A&E

All the World’s A Stage: Transformed Drama Ministry

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ost people are not comfortable performing in front of crowds – let alone performing without a stage, or lights, or even a concrete script. However, these are all just regular variables for a performance by Eastern’s Transformed. Transformed is a traveling drama ministry that strives to worship God through a wide variety of student-written skits. The ministry is unique. While its focus is performance, it thrives as a family.

The title “Transformed” comes from Rom. 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” (NIV).

The members’ lives reflect this concept of transformation. The actors not only meet to write and rehearse their skits, but they also have family dinner and Bible study once a week. Freshman Katarina Rorstrom remarks that while she loves traditional theater, there is something very special about the way that Transformed operates: “It’s a very family-like dynamic. We get very close as a team… [which] makes what we do so much richer.” This bond is notable and valuable to both Transformed’s actors, as well as their audiences. “We have something to give in our dynamic as well as our message,” Rorstrom says.

The group begins the fall semester by meeting weekly and immersing themselves in improvisational activities, which sharpen the actors’ abilities to think quickly and create a powerful level of comfort and camaraderie between members. This is then followed by a sharing of testimonies, and an abundant amount of time spent in prayer. Freshman Alysia Green recalls one such moment: “After…we practiced, we had a moment of prayer that was supposed to last ten minutes, but ended up being two hours or so…we all stood in a circle and one by one each member entered the circle and we laid our hands and prayed over each other. That is the kind of bond that Transformed has and it is evident that God is with us and our ministry.”

Once there is a firm bond established among the actors, they begin brainstorming and collaborating about their skits for the year. The skits depict a wide range of topics, from divorce to suffering to comedy, but they are all firmly rooted in the Gospel. The Transformed actors view their performances as conduits through which they can share the Gospel in new and creative ways. Green describes Transformed’s skits as performances that “evoke the emotions of an audience…whether this emotion causes laughter or crying, it leads people to the Sustainer of all our lives, Jesus Christ….we are not sugarcoating the Gospel; our skits deal with real issues and creatively show how scripture and the Holy Spirit help us understand God’s purpose for our lives.”

There is something extremely effective about the simplistic nature of Transformed’s performances. Because each performance is in a different location, there is little certainty as to whether they will have access to a stage, lights, or even working equipment. This lack of certainty leads to the performers relying heavily on their bodies and their improvisational abilities.  Rorstrom reflects, “Everything we do revolves around us as actors and our bodies…[we are] going to the people.”

Physical factors aside, Transformed also interacts with a variety of audiences. The group has ministered to churches from all over the denominational spectrum, and also has plans to perform in conjunction with the ministry of EU’s YACHT club. As a newcomer this year, Rorstrom remarks that participating in Transformed’s ministry is even better than she expected. She reflects that even the level of uncertainty that the performers face “gives the Lord a chance to work in our weaknesses.” The group comes together with the intention to minister to churches and off-campus groups, but the actors also end up ministering to each other. Rorstrom says that the message of Transformed is to focus on presenting one’s body as a sacrifice to God, and that having this mindset is drastically transforming each actor and drawing them closer to one another and to God.

Transformed will end their spring traveling season with a free performance on campus at Eastern from 7-9 p.m. on Sunday, April 24 in the Gough Great Room. This should prove to be a funny and moving night that will give members of the EU community the opportunity to experience a ministry that is not only transforming its audiences, but also its actors.

For further information on Eastern’s Transformed Drama Ministry or to schedule a performance at your local church, email Andrew Laro at alaro@eastern.edu or Zoe Boroughs at zborough@eastern.edu. Thanks to Katarina Rorstrom and Alysia Green for their irreplaceable assistance in the writing of this article!

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