A Play On Words

Most likely, just before God set the sun on fire, but definitely before humans devised a measure for time, is when it really began. For now, we’ll just say it was 1993. It was the year of Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, and Mrs. Doubtfire. There were floods in the Midwest, Blizzards in the East, and the United States Air Force began to allow women to fly war planes. Nirvana was building a “Heart-Shaped Box,” Sting was walking through “Fields of Gold,” and Boyz II Men was still awake “In the Still of the Night.” All the while, something was eating Gilbert Grape, NASA was losing contact with the Mars Observer, Tom Hanks was having trouble sleeping in Seattle, and a handful of Christian Artists in Knoxville were asking God how to serve His Kingdom with their talents.

“Live theatre is a way to tell stories that has a power like no other art form,” says Jeni Lamm, Managing Director and a founding member of The WordPlayers. Where do we start? Well, how about the Word? In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God – John 1:1. It began with words; words to God, words from God, and then lots of words about Him. Little sketches during a church service here; some thought provoking entertainment at a church dinner there. Next thing you know, years have gone by, and instead of fizzling out, it grew to where it was producing four touring shows and three MainStage shows, all in one season. Folks began working with The WordPlayers who would become a part of the fabric for years to come, and other folks, some not even Christians, would be a part of a show and wonder what it was about these people.

I came along in 2010, because of a girl. We were about to get engaged, but she didn’t know that. We both ended up in the cast of Godspell, and I met The WordPlayers. “Surely just a bunch of Bible-belters who want to do family friendly theatre,” I thought. No, they have a mission. Next thing you know, we’re doing sketches at Churches that are getting to me. I thought I knew everything. I thought my heart was fine! But I’m growing because of what God is doing in and around these people. And it was all because a handful of people gave God the things they were good at. The Word is being made known, because while Willy was being set free, and the Jamaicans were starting a bobsled team, a handful of theatre artists prayed. It started with prayer, and we’re still praying. Won’t you join us?

Ethan Norman
Artistic Associate, The WordPlayers

Talk to me.