Auditions are announced! Scores of talented people show up! Some are previously known by the creative team in charge of casting; some are fresh, new faces. Difficult decisions are made. The musical is cast! Actors join the team of directors, designers, crew, and musicians. A company is born.

A “meet-n-greet” party occurs where old acquaintances are re-kindled and new ones commence. Because the production company is faith-based, part of the kick-off event includes prayer and brief discussions of the spiritual ramifications and scriptural connections of the play. Then there’s square dancing and reading of the script.

Rehearsals begin. Previous friendships deepen. New friendships form.

Then…we learn a key member of the design team is stricken with a rare form of cancer. Due to his prognosis and treatment schedule, he will not be able to fulfill his commitment to the production.

Within a matter of days, two beloved members of one cast member’s family pass away.

Another cast member, a 5-year cancer survivor, discovers that her cancer has returned.

The fiancé of the sister of yet another cast member dies on the operating table during surgery.

On top of these frighteningly serious occurrences, there are other minor disturbances to the rehearsal process: though no one is hurt, a car accident totals a cast member’s vehicle; a fender bender in the parking lot involves two cast members; renovation work on our rehearsal space necessitates cancellation of one rehearsal and the need to move a couple of others to a different space; severe thunderstorms occur just as people are trying to get to rehearsal and to load in sound equipment and musical instruments.

We begin to feel that because our play deals with racial reconciliation (among other themes), that there are spiritual forces working to thwart our efforts to bring an excellent production. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Through it all, the company of BIG RIVER encourages each other, supports one another, and prays. In fact, we are no longer merely a company; we are a community of friends, bound in fellowship and common purpose. The waters of this creative endeavor have become uncommonly and surprisingly treacherous. We trust in the Lord to guide and protect us.

Please come to see the fruits of this community effort. We are at The Bijou in downtown Knoxville Friday, July 15 (7:30), Saturday, July 16 (2:30 and 7:30), and Sunday, July 17 at 3:00.

Soli Deo Gloria!