Unique play to bring Gospel of Mark to life

Posted on Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 9:00 am

Audience members will surround the action during “The Mark Drama,” where 15 performers will take guests through the entire gospel of Mark.

Audience members will surround the action during “The Mark Drama,” where 15 performers will take guests through the entire gospel of Mark.

A revolutionary Christian drama that has gained widespread attention across Europe is set to bring its act to America, with local churches ready to organize and host the play this June.

The play, called “The Mark Drama,” takes viewers into the life of Jesus as told in the book of Mark.  Londoner Andrew Page created the drama ten years ago, molding his approach and the actor’s styles after the methods of early-century Christians, who used their memory to recall the book.

Historical records indicate that the book of Mark was intentionally written in a concise, detailed manner that lends itself to memorization. The Mark Drama divides Mark into six sections, each comprised of three equal subsections. Actors use the symmetrical storytelling to aid their memorization, and go on to perform the book in a style known as theatre-in-the-rounds, where the audience is arranged in a circle around the actors.

On June 7 and 8, locals will get an up close glimpse of the action. Callum Harkrader, who previously attended Gilboa Christian Church in Mineral, first learned of The Mark Drama in 2012 while studying overseas at the University of Oxford in England. Now serving as one of the directors of The Mark Drama, Harkrader said he is eager to bring the production to his homeland.

“[The Mark Drama] is gripping,” Harkrader said. “It literally changes people’s lives.”

It’s that type of opportunity for outreach that made the choice to bring the production to the United States an easy one for elders at Gilboa.

“It’ll be phenomenal,” elder Joe Leslie said. “This is not a Gilboa thing, this is a Christian thing. We’re going to spread the Gospel by having a new way to hear it.”

Leslie stressed that the drama will appeal to a wide range of people, and will require the contributions of many as well. Mineral Baptist Church has already donated the services of their family life center for the performances. Fifteen actors – eight males and seven females – are needed for the production. So far, Leslie said that only two or three slots have been filled, and anyone with a passion for acting or storytelling is invited to participate.

“We’re not limiting involvement to any one group,” Leslie said. “We’re calling any and everybody that wants to be involved. We’re not limiting it if you don’t go to church. People have had great conversions acting in something they may not have believed in.”

Actors will take the audience through the latter parts of Jesus’ ministry – from his baptism to the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection – all without the aid of costumes or props. Three aisles will separate the audience into sections, allowing the actors to navigate and literally surround the viewers with action. According to a video posted on The Mark Drama’s website, nearly every word uttered by Jesus will be included in the 90-minute performance.

“In our increasingly visual age, this is a fantastic opportunity to see Mark’s Gospel come alive in front of you in 90-fast paced minutes,” Harkrader said.

To read the entire story, see the April 3 edition of The Central Virginian.

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