Saturday, May 29, 2010

Learning to Rap

- Jenny Salisbury

There is so much to say about the creation process of Roots Among the Rocks.  I could tell you about our improvisation sessions, the guest artists and theologians who have come and spent time with us, the big discussions around who is God and what is the kingdom, and what can the church be.  But I want to tell you about one moment. It happened yesterday.

Peter Reinhardt, my co-director, is an extraordinary rap artist.  He can make me, a bookish girl with a love for Shakespeare, ballet and guitars get REALLY EXCITED about rap.  He has lead the company to write a rap where each member of the cast has a verse of their own, speaking to their own faith story and their dream for the church.  I don’t want to give too much away, but it is a great piece, and one of the highlights of our show. Some of my favourite lines include:

‘Stop trying to spread the word simply through skits,
with no questions, inspirations, or space to struggle with it’

‘Grounded in tradition and rhythm of prayer so we can be
hearts and hands working for the good of all humanity’

‘There ain’t no stupid church club for winners of the lottery,
Jesus said ‘Everybody come and get a piece of me’.

‘Doesn’t matter where it happens, or if it’s in a designated spot,
It’s right here, right now, ‘cause church is what we’ve got!’

The best thing about this piece is that it’s one of the few moments when the whole company is together doing the same thing, and rocking it!  We blocked and rehearsed it yesterday, and the company just lights up with energy and passion.

We did a run yesterday, and it was 22 minutes over our time limit, so today I’m editing.  I don’t want to cut a thing – but trimming is healthy for the tree, right?  (There’s a roots joke to be made, if you can figure it out, send it my way).

i cannot wait to get on tour!

- Melissa Glover

rehearsing one of my monologues

It has been a busy month. It seems like just yesterday I arrived, only to be packing on this coming Tuesday evening and heading out on tour. The creation process has been very rewarding and bunches of fun. We also have a great time outside of rehearsal and I have enjoyed living with the cast, we all offer something unique and are all learning from one another. There is a great sense of community with this group, something I haven’t always felt in other theatre projects. I have learnt so much about myself as an actor and more so as a person. Everything in our show will, I believe, speak to everyone but in different ways. There have been so many funny moments I wish I could recall, also some of them may not be appropriate for a blog…we also have great guidance from Judy, Jenny, and Peter and the eight of us have created something fresh that I think will make audiences think. I cannot wait to get on tour!

Friday, May 28, 2010

what it's like to create together in community

-  Karyn Guenther
 the night of the nerf gun war
Gah what a process.  What a large task we are undertaking.  The last month or so has been very inspiring for me as a theatre artist, a member of the church, and, well, as a human, desperately trying to connect with other humans because that’s what we do.  

The most joyous occasions this month have occurred during moments of struggle and challenge, both in rehearsal and in our home.  It would not be truthful to say that we feel happy and loving towards each other all day, every day.  There are moments of frustration, anger, awkwardness, tiredness and I think what makes our company so healthy is that I see us leaning into those moments instead of shying away from them.  Because we are in a creative process almost all the time, the stuff of our lives has and is coming out and it has been most rewarding for me to be able to feel comfortable enough to share the parts of our lives that we don’t share in everyday conversation and know that I am with people who accept those parts of me and who support the struggle.  I am also very fond of our kitchen parties, which are frequent and full of laughter.  I don’t think I’ve laughed nearly as hard or as much as I have this last month.  It is good.

on the blackboard

So, I walked into the rehearsal space and saw this on the blackboard...

            I liked it!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

But really, what is it ABOUT?

Under the heading of "Frequently Asked Questions"... lots of people are wondering "But, what is the play ABOUT anyway?  What is the story?"  Well, until earlier this week, that was a hard question to answer given that the process over the past three-and-a-half weeks has been to firgure out what it is about and to write it.  

But now - it's written!  We have a script in our hands that we have put together out of the stories, ideas, people, places and themes that have emerged through our work.  Here's the gist:

Roots Among the Rocks seeks to share stories from the people who make up the church in Canada.  Based on interviews with Christians from coast to coast, the show brings the Body of Christ home to itself, and asks the question: Who is Church?  Characters tell their stories around a kitchen table, friends whisper is church pews, some choose to leave and others choose to stay.  Music, poetry, dance and drama combine to explore just what it is that brings us together.  Journeying through the themes of Sunday Morning, Identity Crisis, Resilience and Grace, Confession and Absolution, and Finding Home, come hear the stories and meet the characters that make up the church we call home.

Warning: Roots Among the Rocks is a show written for the whole church.  In it, the cast confronts issues of identity, community, trust, and forgiveness.  
It does not contain: violence, swearing, nudity, smoke effects, reality TV hosts, strobe lighting, an obligatory kiss scene, or robots.  
It does contain: confession, dance, poetry, drug addiction, humour, cancer, biblical stories, St. Augustine, an irreverent tribute to Sunday morning worship, human sexuality, rocks, prayers, hopes, dreams and rap.  
We think anyone age 12 and over will enjoy it.

Our play does not have a linear plot.  It is a series of moments, connected through prayer, music and movement. There are two major components to our show: monologues, based on interviews, and scenes, based on big questions we want to ask of the church. 

(editorial aside from the producer - I saw the first full run through yesterday and, well, it's freaking awesome!  If you love church, if you hate church, if you are weary of or inspired by church...come see this play!!)

   After running through Act 3 - Notes from the Director!
Carolyn rehearses a monologue

Thursday, May 20, 2010


We had a night off recently, and went to see singer songwriter Martyn Joseph and poet Stewart Henderson playing at the London Music Club. He was on a tour to support world vision.   Andrew, one of the mentors at Ask & Imagine told us about him and we were hugely inspired.  Go visit his website and listen to some of his music.  
After the show, he came over and spent some time sharing stories with us, talking about his tour, why he does what he does, and listening to us share what we are doing this summer.  His advice?

"Be Real.  Whatever you do, be real.  There are a lot of liars out there, including in the church..."

Thanks Martyn and Stewart, for an amazing evening that made us think, gave us perspective and a little music and friendship.

Monday, May 10, 2010

We have begun!

We have just finished the first week of our production month and the energy and creativity is AMAZING!!

There has been lots to learn and do; everything from setting up the kitchen, planning meals and menus, working out a cleaning schedule ("did they teach me this is theatre school/theological college??") to improv, drumming circles, establishing group covenants, exploring characters, sharing the stories we gathered from interviews and more!  Dennis Hayes from Toronto spent a fantastic afternoon with us as we shared stories and told many of his own to help us begin the process of distilling all of this into a 75 minute show.

Meanwhile, we're learning to live and create together, feeding off each other's energy, learning about boundaries and grace and (as can be expected) laughing a LOT!

One piece of sad news - on the weekend we had to say goodbye to one of our cast members.  For personal reasons, Michael made the tough decision to return home for the summer.  We're thinking of him and look forward to seeing him when the tour swings through Saskatoon in July.  Blessings Michael!  Thanks for your love and energy.


1.  'Look Mom, we ARE eating our vegetables!'  Life at Cronyn House, our home at Huron University College
2.  Concentration through Big Booty
3.  Peter inspires JD and Melissa to great creativity in an improv game called "Duck Duck WHAT?"
4.  Every margarine tub needs a face
5.  Jenny's opening session - 'what IS theatre?'