By Katrina ffiske
The Mark Drama is a 90-minute performance, performed by 15 actors telling the complete Gospel of Mark. It was performed by Trinity Church Salisbury at the South Wilts Grammar School on Saturday, 13th May and Sunday, 14th May.
Trinity Church Salisbury relocated to Salisbury in September 2022, and is led by Pete Bentley-Taylor. “We were honoured and thrilled to have the director, Andrew Page, directing the performance of the Mark Drama,” Pete said.
“This is the first time we’ve performed it. There are no props, costumes or professionals, and all 15 members of the cast were from the Trinity Church. They rehearsed for a very short time on Thursday and Friday evening and Saturday all day.”
Deanna, who played the disciple James, said: “Prior to the performance we had six weeks to memorise the order of Mark’s Gospel. Once memorised it is easier to act out the Gospel. The rehearsals were intense but Andrew was so good at putting us at ease. He suggested lines that we could all say throughout the evening and we would improvise during the performance.”
Chairs were set up in a circle with aisles leading into the centre. The actors, dressed in jeans, trainers and t-shirts, used the space expertly with characters exiting and entering the circle as they played out a series of events, from Jesus meeting his future disciples to the many miracles and parables written in the Gospel.
The actors take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster. There is terror on the faces of the disciples as Jesus approaches them walking on water, it is moving each time a child is saved from death. The audience is asked to participate as we accept loaves from enthusiastic disciples, the meagre four loaves miraculously turning into five thousand.
There is laughter as we watch the woman losing her seven husbands – actors tripping up over each other as they fall to their early death. The disciples are like naughty school children, jokes being cracked with mutterings behind Jesus’ back: “I love Jerusalem, I hear they have a good sandal shop.”
“It is important to laugh,” said Andrew, the director. “It helps the audience relax and they are then more receptive to the message the Gospel is making.”
Andrew told how he came up with the concept of the Mark Drama. “I was giving some talks on Mark’s Gospel in Austria, where I used to live, and recognised a discernable structure to Mark. I realised how easy it would be to memorise and how it would work well as a play. The play is almost word for word Mark’s Gospel.”
Andrew has directed over 180 Mark Dramas over the world. He trains directors and they in turn will train directors.
“Mark Drama has been performed since 2004 in numerous countries, across three continents (Europe, Oceania and South America).”
It really was a very impressive performance by the unprofessional cast and hard to imagine that they had only rehearsed for three days. Ed, who played various characters, said how it was a completely new experience for him to act and how it united the 15 of them as a close team.
James who played Jesus was outstanding, never faltering on his lines and confidently guiding the disciples from scene to scene.
Pete Bentley-Taylor encourages people to join an upcoming Christianity Explored course at Trinity Church Salisbury, starting on June 5th.
“We have a mix of ordinary people of different ages and stages, seeking to know Jesus better and live for him together. Whether you’re already a Christian, or just curious to look into questions of faith, we’d love you to come and be part of our community.”