The Season of Hope | Behind the Scenes
It’s Friday night and Phoenix First is full of life. Walking around South Campus, you’ll see people getting ready for the annual junior and senior high District Fine Arts Festival. Up top on North Campus, the Sanctuary is bustling with cast and crew prepping for part one of a three part dramatic presentation of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Sneaking in the back of the Sanctuary to snag a peek of what’s to come, the house lights go off and a video starts. Introducing the sounds of city life in Tel Aviv, Israel with vendors shouting, a rickshaw making its way through the crowds, the music fades in. Your eyes widen as dancers outfitted with bold and bright colors make their way to various places on the stage.
There are many things that make any dramatic presentation at Phoenix First unique. During this season, The Season of Hope, we highlight the life and ministry of Jesus Christ then we are led through his death and resurrection. This is a three part experience.
Part one starts March 31st/April 1st, we pause on Good Friday for observation and reflection on the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. We pick up with part two on April 7th/April 8th, and conclude with the final dramatic presentation on April 14th/April 15th.
If you’ve never experienced a Phoenix First presentation, you are in for a special treat. What makes a presentation at Phoenix First unique? Good question! Is it because it’s free and there isn’t a bad seat in the house? Is it the optimal blend of drama, music and multi-media that engages your senses leaving a lasting impression of what life could have truly been like during the time Jesus was on Earth? Perhaps it’s the hundreds of volunteers—professional and novice, young and young at heart, newly attending and those who call Phoenix First home—that makes a dramatic presentation so unique? Maybe it’s the parking lot experience, the way you were greeted with genuine care as though you are already part of the family?
The truth is, it is all the above!
Each department of Phoenix First is part of the overall picture. When the teams come together, pooling together their creativity, innovation and resourcefulness, you have the right ingredients for a memorable and life changing experience. What does that mean? So glad you asked.
Let’s take the Media Department for example. Before a presentation, such as The Season of Hope, can come to fruition, much dialogue and many meetings take place. As Tommy Robertson, Media Director, outlines the first place we start is the creative meeting with Mark Stoddard and Jeff May. The creative meeting outlines the direction of the production. Once Tommy has the outline, he can meet with his team to brainstorm and gather examples for the next series of meeting.
The next series of meetings are crucial. Meeting to creatively flesh out the story board, special elements, multi-media needs, props and even the use of live animals all needs to be presented. As the script is finalized, the special elements begin to take form: lighting, voice overs, still pictures, videos that are already made need to be found, then there are videos that need to be made, small and large props need to be made/gathered/purchased, special elements need to be repaired/reconstructed/restored, live animals need to be trained.
On any given day during the week, you will find the team members working on a set of tasks to make deadlines for run-throughs and tech rehearsals. The best way to achieve the overall goal is to divide the workload based on a specific focus. Each team member is crucial; no one team member is more important than the other and no one job is more important than other. There is no room for personal agendas.
If you have ever wondered how in-sync the teams need to be, check this out. Between the drama, music and media directors, they each need to have a complete understanding of the direction of the production, checking in with each other as often as possible and making sure that what each other is working on is still on par with the vision of the production.
The media team needs to make sure the lighting queues line up with the entrance, exit and transitions within the production. The pictures, videos and voice over queues needs to ensure authenticity as well as engage the audience with what is taking place on stage.
The music needs to help reflect as well as help tell the story, be appropriate for the time period, assist with transitions and engage the audience with the vision of the production. The props need to be appropriate for the time period, know what scenes need which props, help with the mood of the characters and compliment with purpose.
Camera queues are just as important. Capturing the right angle at the right time is key! It takes a crew to run the cameras. It’s also imperative to know from the drama director the queues throughout the production so the person managing the cameras can queue in the right camera.
Special elements such as live animals are incredibly effective as they engage the audience in another facet. However, in preparation for the scenes with animals, it’s imperative for the drama and media directors to dialogue. Once the animals are chosen for the scene, it takes weeks, even months to train and prepare the animals. For example, the fish that are used in the fishing scene are real live catfish.
Tommy’s team needs to have a special tank for the fish. To ensure the fish are the right color, the water needs to be kept at the right temperature which means ice needs to be brought in. Let’s not forget, the fish need to eat. Last but not least, people are needed to handle the fish for the scene. This is just the fish…imagine the work, care and time it would take to train a donkey! Plus, finding a good donkey is hard to come by.
Though it takes an incredible team to make the behind the scenes happen and run seamless, the key is that it takes a team. Between the drama, music and media teams there are countless hours accumulated in preparation for each scene. If you ask the team members why they do what they do, you just might get a different answer from each person. The reason someone joins one of these teams is because their life was changed, transformed and impacted in some way. Their personal passion and motivation goes to enhance the overall goal.
Each person that walks through the Sanctuary doors is important. The work that is done, the time that is spent, the attention that goes into the details of each scene has specific purpose. It’s all done with you in mind: bringing you closer to knowing who Jesus Christ is and how you can have a real and personal relationship with Him.
If you are interested in learning more about being a part of any of the teams, please don’t hesitate to inquire. We look forward to working with you as well as having you on the team! Please give us a call or send us an email.
If you have a story you’d like to share with us, we would love to hear about it. Please send us an email.