Tips and photos for dramatizing all or portions
of the stories in Women of the Last Supper are suggested here.
"My" church has been portraying these vignettes for ten years now,
so these tips are based on plenty of experience. ~ Millie
Tip #1 ~ Timing
Portrayal/performance time options for these story vignettes varies. In my church, it takes us two years to perform all of them ~ doing approximately half of them one year and half the second during our five or six special Lenten services each year. We portray two or three character stories per 45 minute service, along with Scripture reading, music, and prayer. HOWEVER, each 8 to 10 minute story can also stand alone or be paired with or without the total cast of characters. We have done this for Sunday morning worship services, and I have personally used this option many times when speaking to other church groups, retreats, clubs, schools. Recently, a church study group told me they are using the book a chapter per month for as long as it takes. Group members volunteer to lead the study each month, often by performing the character/s first. IN ADDITION, at the end of the book there is the option of very brief portrayals by all the characters for a single, hour-long service or performance. We have used this option in combination with Communion for meaningful Holy (Maundy) Thursday services, using many of the "disciples" to assist the pastor in serving the Lord's Supper. JESUS is usually a character in "my" church's portrayals only for Holy Communion services, such as Holy (Maundy) Thursday. For such occasions, there is a special Jesus monolog in the book appropriate for Holy Communion services.
Tip #2 ~ Staging
Early in my church's portrayals, we learned that the costumed disciples themselves are the best (and easiest) stage props. So all twelve men, twelve women, and six children are now our staging -- along with a few symbolic props, like plants, large baskets, a cross, etc. -- when we dramatize these vignettes, which is usually for five or six services during the weeks Lent. Approximately thirty live props surrounding the portraying characters (usually two or three per service) are truly dynamic staging, as the posed photos above and below suggest! During performances, all disciples focus intently on the narrator, agreeing with an occasional gesture or head nod. Before the performance, at my church the characters sit among the audience/congregation. At a signal, they all head towards the stage, carrying their props (baskets, staffs, palm branches, scrolls, etc) and talking about the Lord to each other and the audience. This always grabs and rivets the audience's attention, both young and old, on the disciples and the narrator/s.
Tip # 3 ~ Costuming
While my church does have a large costume room, most of the disciples provide their own costumes, and really enjoy doing so. Careful research shows that many of Jesus' followers were well-off (not poor peasants), so jewelry and rich-looking clothing are in order, especially for the women. We know from the Gospels that a number of Jesus followers were descendants of royalty, including his earthly parents, Mary and Joseph. Jesus' own outer garment was so fine that the soldiers at his crucifixion cast lots for it instead of cutting it into pieces as usual. Some Lent we plan to try something new -- one evening when everyone in the audience/congregation will be invited to dress in clothes from Jesus' day.
Presenting "Men, Women and Children of the Last Supper," 2010.