Title page for ETD etd-06022004-160351


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Drake, Webster Ford
Author's Email Address wdrake@lsu.edu
URN etd-06022004-160351
Title Performance as Ministry: An Ethnographic Study of Three Christian Repertory Theatre Troupes
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Speech Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Michael S. Bowman Committee Chair
Andrew King Committee Member
Gaines Foster Committee Member
John W. Lowe Committee Member
Ruth Laurion Bowman Committee Member
Keywords
  • religion
  • drama
Date of Defense 2004-05-17
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
This work seeks to define, explain, and place into historical and social context the phenomena of Christian Repertory Theater (CRT). It does so by examining three CRT troupes: Acts 2 from Nashville, TN, sponsored by Two Rivers Baptist Church; The Company from Fort Worth, TX, sponsored by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Gen X from Clinton, MS, which operated independent of external support . Ethnographic fieldwork was the primary vehicle of information-gathering in this case study analysis. The author experienced each group as either a participant-observer, observer, and/or interviewer. CRT was ultimately defined as an activity wherein a constituted group performs short, primarily dramatic and versatile performances within the context of larger worship services. The group also trains and ministers to its own members while maintaining an active performance schedule. CRT is classified as both a performance troupe and a ministry team. CRT is an active movement primarily within the Southern Baptist Convention where thirty-two states have annual drama festivals/workshops, there is an annual national meeting, and a decanal celebration. Churches and religious organizations are utilizing the dramatic arts in a variety of forms on a more frequent basis, and CRT is a part of that movement. CRT struggles with its dual functions of ministry and performance, walking the line between self-glorification and humble ministry. A third, less vital, function is the training of the group members. The survival of a troupe rests largely with a driving force internal or external to it which provides both vision and leadership. Performance styles for the groups vary, but the one consistency is the presence of "straight drama" in which the performers fully embody characters and the audience suspends their disbelief. Further, CRT contends with the impression of frivolity as it does not contain the inherent gravity of more fully-developed and technical main-stage plays. CRT fills an important role both for its practitioners and the members of the churches and groups for whom they perform. The art form presents religious truth in a unique manner and provides an opportunity for growth and ministry to the members themselves.
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