Church Stars was delighted when Canadian Scholar and Playwright, Dr. Elaine Brown Spencer agreed to interview with us. We were intrigued by how God orchestrated the blending of two totally "different 'meeting of the mindsets" and jumped into the interview with both feet.
CS: Welcome to the Church Stars Network Dr. Spencer. Tell us a little bit about your production and how you made the leap from Author to Playwright?
EBS: Thank you, I really am excited and thank you for the interview.
I wrote the book Private Pain In Public Pews in 2010 and I can’t say I went to theatre school or always dreamed of being a playwright on the contrary. I’m a University Professor and work in social policy with the government so the Arts was very far from my professional career. I honestly didn’t even know what theatre was all about, It literally fell into my lap. I was in prayer after couple months into writing the book and as clear as day I heard the voice of the Lord say “put the book in theatre form”. I had no idea what writing a play entailed, I got some help from some church members to get things kick started and after the first play, the rest is history.
None of the stories are based on real people, yet, the stories are real. I constantly have people write me or speak to me on how much they can relate to the story line and how relevant and “real” the stories are. I strive to present the stories in our world -the church, in our language and of course our music.
CS: Without giving too much away, tell us a little about this play?
EBS: SAVED is an adaptation of Private Pain In Public Pews2: Prayer Still Works. I introduced some new characters and streamlined the story line.
The story focuses on the after math of the Terry-Tia infamous “fall” and Terry’s relentless focus to get his life back on track. But with some unexpected news that Tia gets from her Doctor, it sparks more questions than answers that may affect Terry’s life forever.
Meanwhile foundational members Mother Blair & Sis Betty schools a new zealous Minister of how to be “SAVED” and ignored Gabriel reminds the whole church about his messages that all comes full circle.
SAVED is a heartfelt drama of love and redemption juxtaposed with comedic moments of wisdom, drama and good ole fashioned Gospel Music.
The play is currently touring 4 Canadian cities, with our 3rd stop in Toronto, Ontario, on Saturday October 14th at the Yorkwoods Theatre. We previously travelled to Windsor and Hamilton Ontario. Following Toronto, we will be going to Montreal, Quebec on Saturday November18th at the DB Clarke Theatre.
CS: Is this another installment of your "Private Pain in Public Pews"Collection and will be there more of this collection or will this play stand alone?
EBS: Yes. This would fall under the 2nd instalment of PPPP, more like a re-boot of the classic Prayer Still Works done in 2012.
All the plays stand alone, so you don’t necessarily have to see the previous play, but after our shows people normally get our DVD’s to get caught up on the other sequels.
There will be a new instalment of PPPP coming out in 2018, God willing. I’m currently putting the finishing touches on that script. I’m very excited about Part 4 of the PPPP series titled: Amazing Grace, and trust me, it will Jbe amazing
CS: How did you choose the cast?
EBS I conducted casting calls and some of the actors I have previously worked with in the past. I’m also known for “tapping” individuals who have unknown talent in theatre so to speak, so I’ve also approached actors for them to consider acting in a Gospel play.
CS: What is your writing process like? Do you have any specific rituals before or after writing a play or book?
EBS: My writing process is deeply reflective and spiritual. I take this process very seriously and never just “write” because I can. I wait for the “gush” or when I sense the Lord is speaking to me about a new story and in prayer, I ask Him to disseminate his word into me to develop the script. It’s almost like a pregnancy believe it or not as I feel the story grow from infancy to full maturity.
After I write, I like to travel somewhere to get rejuvenated as writing takes a lot out of me as its such an intense process.
CS: Please share the one piece of advice you would give novice playwrights?
EBS: I’d say, always think about the optics of what you want to put out there. Pay attention to details in how you want your story presented. Often we have great ideas but executing it is an important part of the process to get buy-in of your audience.
I would also say, ask God for an authentic script. We are all unique and see the world in a particular way based on how God made us. So find your voice, ask God to reveal how he wants to use you uniquely, in his way, not through the eyes of another.
So in other words, just be you.
CS: We know that the majority of the time, a play ministers first to the playwright and then the cast. Can you share an example of how your play is touching the lives of cast members?
EBS: Ahh, its been a Ministry for many. Before we can minister to others, often the very words or scenes of the play come alive.
We have had persons dedicate their lives to the Lord, become professional actors, playwrights, get employment, the list goes on and on.
We’ve had our rehearsals turn into full out prayer meeting based on a need that presents itself.
CS: What do you want your audience to walk away with and what will the discussion be in their cars on the way home?
EBS: Never assume you know someone’s story. There is an untold story we never hear in the church. Often we over focus on the “transgressor” without understanding the events that led up to it. And just because someone has fallen, doesn’t mean we stay in that state. Often, there is a very different picture to a how a negative story has been presented.
God will work how he wills, and when he SAVES, no man can pluck us out.