August 24, 2005
Enacted Prayer Workshop
What is Enacted Prayer?
Enacted Prayer (EP) is a way to pray through images. It was developed originally by Jeff Barker and the Drama Ministries Ensemble of Northwestern College. The techniques they used are the ones I will be sharing, since I was part of that team. Jeff likes to say that all Christians are students in the school of prayer. EP is one way to learn. Refer to his handout for the history of EP, its form, and some exercises. It's very important for everyone praying to be prepared in their hearts to come before the throne of God, and to be open to the moving of the Holy Spirit throughout the prayer performance.
Tips from Heidi
1. For the Prayer Leader
- The prayer leader usually needs a microphone to speak over the congregation and the music. The person sharing a request should also speak into the microphone so all the actors can clearly hear what the prayer is to be.
- Casting according to age, gender, and appearance is good but not imperative.
- When clarifying the prayer request, try to collect details that will be visually interesting and helpful to the actors.
- Make sure you know exactly what is being prayed for, and encourage specificity. One helpful question to ask is something like, "How will you know when this prayer has been answered?"
- When casting the prayer, remember that it doesn't have to be realistic. An actor can represent a group of people, a disease, a disagreement, or anything else that helps illustrate the prayer effectively.
- Try not to change the prayer request or praise from what is explained to you by the one requesting the prayer.
2. For the Sound Technician
- Use music without words, ideally stuff that no one will immediately recognize. The idea is to focus on the images, and the music should help facilitate that.
- It often works well to choose music that does not correspond precisely to the assumed mood of the prayer. Contrast can be rich.
- Choose music your actors are familiar with. It works well to have a CD full of chosen pieces that you use with a team on a regular basis.
- Live music works well because it can respond to the action. Our team has used voices, piano, and drums.
- Listen carefully to the request so you can represent it accurately.
- Don't try to plan out the prayer before you pray it. It's improvisation guided by the request.
- Work with your fellow actors with a "yes, and" attitude.
- Make the prayer a journey. Don't jump to the final image too quickly.
- When your part of the story is finished, move to the side and turn away so you won't distract from the other action.
- Think about where the focus is, especially when more than one thing is going on at once.
- Don't interact with the actors playing the Trinity as though they can be sensed the same way as the actors playing people can be.
- Feel free to cover a range of human activities and emotions. Prayer doesn't have to be limited to placid, graceful, meditative action.
- The actors playing the Trinity should work both independently and together. At least one of them should always be with every part of the action happening on stage. Remember that you are acting what the congregation wants to see God do, or what they are praising him for having done. You are not claiming to be God, and you're not saying that what you act is exactly what he would or will do.
- The end of the prayer is always a frozen image. Freezing simultaneously is best. However, if an actor or group of actors have not completed their part of the prayer, it's better for them to finish what they're doing than to freeze without completing the prayer.
- Our team had consistent symbols to represent certain actions and objects. For example, we held our hand in a certain way for a phone, folded up a letter with a certain motion, and presented money in a certain way. This helped eliminate confusion on stage.
A Note from Rich Swingle (RichDrama.com)
Enacted Prayer is derived from sociodrama. For information I recommend Sociodrama: Who's in Your Shoes, which was co-written by my sociodrama mentor, Patricia Sternberg. It may be purchased at RichDrama.com/BookStore.
For information on Bibliodrama go to Bibliodrama.com.
For stories of how I've used enacted prayer click here. If you're reading this on paper, go to RichDrama.com. Click on Workshops in the right margin, then click "here" where it indicates you can find more information on enacted prayer.