Amazon.com Widgets The Swingles' Dramatic Developments: July 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Amazing Month of MasterWorks!


We had an amazing month at the MasterWorks Festival!

Ken Wales (far right), producer of Amazing Grace, Christy, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the original Pink Panther films, among many others, met with most of our students to help them see how their unique giftings can help them fit into the entertainment industry. This was his fourth year, and the reason he didn't get to every student this year was because he was hard at work on another film he hopes to shoot in Winona Lake, just before MasterWorks.

John Kirby (next to Ken), acting coach on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Count of Monte Cristo, Déjà Vu and about 20 others, shared about his work as director of The Word of Promise: Next Generation and directed us in Our Town. People were saying our production was better than renditions they'd seen at Notre Dame University, New York and London! One faculty member attended at least two performances and told me that the third act of the play got him thinking about eternity years ago. That was what started him on a journey toward Christ, and we're confident our four performances planted and watered a lot of seeds.

Bev Holloway (next to John), casting director for Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, The Ultimate Gift, An American Carol, and about 30 others, did a casting session with our students, and some of the roles they read are for two upcoming films! A man who lives in the community came up to me with tears in his eyes and shared that he's always enjoyed MasterWorks, but when he attended Bev's workshop and watched her giving direction and the students taking that direction and instantly making great adjustments, it finally dawned on him: MasterWorks is really training up the next generation of professional artists!

Patricia Mauceri (center), called us the week before she arrived, saying that she'd been given a script she couldn't perform. She made rewrites, but they were refused, and the role was recast. Her bold stance was a great witness to our students.

All four of them participated in one of two panel discussions, set up to answer questions the students had. Both panels were recorded for Romanian radio by one of our students, Krisztina Fekete, far right in the photo below.


This panel featured (from left to right), myself, Kohli Hessler Calhoun (dialect coach at NYU and the Stella Adler Studio, and our first master class instructor who attended the program!), Susan Sommerville Brown, and Harvey Johnson.

I was so thrilled with all that Harvey, Susie and Kohli brought, not only to this session, but to each one-on-one and class session they had with our students. The level of artistic and spiritual growth that was achieved because of their efforts is mind-boggling.

The only master class artist who wasn't around during a panel was Mac Nelson. He shared stories from his work with Liz Taylor and Jerry Lewis, from his most recent book, Memoirs of a Hollywood Adventure. He also shared from his first book, Waiting for my Fingers, about how he was healed from near-paralysis of both arms through surgery and the Lord. After the surgery he only had one note in his vocal register, but during a faculty recital he sang with his full range and tap-danced, swinging both arms with full-strength, to the Glory of God!

One of the spiritual highlights of the festival was when Joyce, my bride, led our students in a foot-washing. After we finished, the presence of the Lord was so palpable that I didn't want to lead them in anything. I just said, "Do whatever you want to do." They chose to wash each other's feet.

By the end of the month, one of our students asked to be baptized. Since Joyce is an ordained minister, we made plans. Another student had been taking baptism classes but had never been able to follow through to actually being baptized. She was delighted to do it with the close friends she'd made over the month. We went down to Winona Lake, the site of our festival, before church on Sunday. Their parents read scripture and prayed over each of them. Joyce baptized them officially, and then I got to dunk them. As we were walking off the dock singing, "Down To The River To Pray," Joyce yelled, "We've got another one!" The friend of one of our students was so moved by the service he asked to be baptized, too.

Photos from top to bottom by Nathan Nesbitt, Rich Swingle, Bernie Bernhardt (last two).

To download a PDF of this article, click here.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!


Wishing you a great Independence Day from Winona Lake, where we're at the half-way point of the MasterWorks Festival.