From Typo to Great Show

It was a good night to appreciate humility as I sat at the head of a table for the first read through of a play I wrote and am now directing. It’s not my first rodeo. I’ve already set aside worrying about whether they will think it’s amazing or be unimpressed; if they will follow my leadership or want to change all the lines. I know I’m not Shakespeare and I know I need the team in order for this thing to be meaningful. The team will come together eventually and it is always interesting to see what gets us from being strangers introducing ourselves across the table, to dear friends, sad to be at our final performance together. This time, it starts with a typo.

The stage direction was supposed to say “as they pour themselves a cup of coffee,” but instead I had written “poor themselves.” A minor thing, but we had a moment to laugh about it and make fun of me, a little, for the typo. At that point, I remembered a typo from last year’s Advent script that was far worse. I told that story, we all had a big laugh, and all of a sudden we were all on the same plane, with no need to impress each other. To the world we were laughing “at my expense,” but the wealth I have in Christ means this is the kind of expense I can afford. We got back to work on the play – this thing that each of us has to give our self to in order for it to become something with weight. I’m just the writer; somebody had to bring a script. Cliff is just Herod the Great, and Melody is just the stage manager … We all have to play the part given to us and we will all shape each other in the process.

Humility is often understood as this stoic, fasting-from-anything-pleasant-while-beating-myself-up kind of thing. But that’s just not true. Humility only pulls the rug out from under prideful people. Those who accept humility as a general practice in Christian character, find that it’s quite joyful. It is humility that allows us to laugh at our own expense, to see the beauty in others, or receive correction so that we can become better than we currently are. I love being a part of a Company of Christian Theatre Artists because the humility we share in Christ makes us more professional and more enjoyable to be around. And it’s the thing that will take a little script called West of Bethlehem, and turn it into a show that will touch lives this Advent season. Look for it, perhaps you’ll see what I mean.

Talk to me.

Ethan Norman
Artistic Associate, The WordPlayers