On Wednesday, I went to the Golden Broom Awards of the Jewish Cultural Arts Theatre. I directed The Sisters Rosensweig for them earlier this year, and wanted to go support the kids who teched my production.
J-CAT (as they term themselves) mostly works with kids and teenagers, with a smattering of shows for adults. The Golden Brooms was an awards ceremony by and for these kids, particularly some beloved seniors that were going off to college.
It was a great time. Not something I normally say about an awards ceremony.
It was great because in every little skit that these kids had put together, you could see the love that they had for the artform and that they had for this theatre. In the middle of this, I thought, "Micheal and Lillian Andron have a fantastic ministry here."
Now, Michael is a Jewish religious professional (a mohel), but I doubt he would consider his theatre ministry.
But I stand by my original thought. Micheal and Lillian's work with these kids at such an awkward time of life is nothing short of a mitzvah.
When I was a teenager, I whiled away the hours at the (now defunct) Davis Discovery Center, performing in Shakespeare. While I think I was in the world's worst productions of some of these classic plays, I was taken out of myself and transported to someplace wonderful -- a place where I was accepted and loved, even if I was an awkward, tall, overweight kid. I could disappear into a role and I became strong or hilarious. My time at the Davis Center made me feel whole and loved in a way that I didn't get in school or at home. I wasn't the only one saved by this environment -- I was one of many suicidally depressed teenagers who found that performing the words of the Bard could elevate their lives and make them feel loved and loveable, accepted and acceptable.
And what the Davis Discovery Center did and what Micheal and Lillian are doing is no less than what I think of as ministry. Making people feel loved, needed, accepted, and whole.
I've spent the past two years volunteering for a congregation that I have since left. During my time with that congregation, the congregation itself was in turmoil over ministry. Who did it serve? Why was it here? I asked those questions again and again, and received no clear answer. I left because it seemed to me that they were more interested in having a church building than having a ministry. And all along, below my office, a fantastic ministry was already going on.
I started this blog and openly declared my intentions to the world because I'm no longer interested in art for art's sake or church for church's sake. I want more out of my creative life. I wanted to share my desire that theatre can heal the world. And this past week, I got a nice little reminder that it already is.