Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Morning Interview: Scandalous Drama in the Church

Today's MMI was a fun one for me.  A while back, I got back in touch with one of my high school English teachers, Gwen Kandt via facebook.  I was touched at the time that she even remembered me!  Then I was weirded out that she has kids the same age as my oldest. Anyway, it was really cool to have the chance to interview her and catch up on old times! You can follow her blog, as I do, at The Kandt Khronicles.

If you have follow up questions, please feel free to comment with them and we'll get back to you with some answers.  And as always, if you are interested in being interviewed on The Squirrel Factor, let me know and we'll get something set up!
Charissa Howe: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Gwen Kandt: Well, I've been married for 21 1/2 years. Two daughters: Leslie is 14 and Eastin is 10 . . .
I taught high school (as you know) for a few years, and I've homeschooled at least one of my girls for the last 7 or 8 years. I've been in charge of drama ministries at three different churches now. And I'm writing the scripts for the sketches at our church here.

Writing scripts is a relatively new venture for me. When we lived in New Jersey, a guy at church who did the drama there was a professional writer (his name's Randy Petersen -- look him up) and he encouraged me to give it a try.

CH: How are you liking it?

GK: Writing specifically?

CH: Yes, the scripts.

GK: Love it! Really, really love it! More than I ever would have thought. I never had any confidence that I could write "creatively" (I've always been a good essay-writer and such), so it took a lot of prodding from Randy. The first script I sent to him for feedback, I fretted at my laptop for 10 minutes before I could get the guts to hit the "send" button. But I love setting up a situation and characters to prepare the audience to hear the message God is about to deliver through the pastor.

CH: Some people are really wary of performing arts in the church. What is your response to that?Facebook

GK: (laughs) I picked up a free cassette at a homeschool convention entitled "The Evils of Drama in the Church". Had to laugh at that.

God instructs all sorts of people to perform in worship in the Bible. Not specifically drama, like we do it . . but a lot of times, he instructed the prophets to do things when communicating his word that were basically a visual metaphor--drama

And Jesus was the greatest storyteller -- hard to imagine him telling these stories without some element of "acting them out" for effect. That's what a great storyteller does.

CH: What's your favorite story He told?Facebook Chat

GK: There's a lot I love about the Prodigal Son story. I played the older son in that when my church did Godspell a few years ago. I LOVE Godspell! Have you seen that?

CH: I've DONE Godspell. Facebook Chat

GK: Really? Who were you? I sang "By My Side". Beautiful song -- hard to understand.

CH: Oddly, so did I! (laughs)

GK: (laughs) That's great! I didn't know you were a singer. It's still weird for me to think of you doing "grown-up" things . . like raising children.

CH: Are you still in touch with many of your students from when you taught high school?Facebook Chat

GK: No -- just you and Glenna, on FB.I've wondered about several, but to be honest, I see faces and don't always remember names. I used to come back to school in the fall, see a students from the year before, and I couldn't remember their name. I could tell you what hour they were in, where they sat in the room, even what grade they got on their final . . . but not their name. 

CH: What is it that makes particular students stand out?

GK: Some because of great work they did. Some because they were huge behavior problems. Some because they were particularly charming and pleasant to remember. You would have fallen into the final category. You were so sweet to write me after I moved.

That was kind of a tough move, because my Hutchinson friends stopped writing me before I had found a place for myself with new friends in Springfield, really, so I felt kind of abandoned. It made me feel really good that I had students who enjoyed me enough to want to keep in touch. I wasn't sure I was always a pleasant person in class -- and I knew there were students who hated me (as there always are!).

CH: Moving can really wreak havoc on a person. Do you have advice for anyone going through a transition like that or with a friend going through it?

GK: I think my later moves were helped a lot by just recognizing that would happen -- that my friends "back home" would fill the hole I left before I made a new niche for myself in my new home. That sounds bad to say it that way, I don't mean it to sound so negative. It's just reality. And I learned to give myself time to make that niche. It got harder when I had kids to move with me, because they needed friends sooner than I did. So, much of the focus was on them in the last couple moves.

We've moved a lot in our married years. Let's see, we lived in Wichita, St. Louis, Kansas City, Hutchinson, Springfield, New Jersey, and now Sioux City. Only the last two of those moves involved kids, though.

CH: You should try Pittsburgh sometime.  My daughter will show yours around.

GK: My neighbor in Jersey was from Pittsburgh. It always sounded like a nice place to live. I like Pennsylvania in general.

CH: If you could choose one place in the world to live, where would it be and why?Facebook Chat

GK: Probably Kansas City. I always liked Kansas City. It's big enough to have just about everything there you would need, but it still has very rural looking areas. It still feels mid-western. And it's close enough to family to visit easily but not have people just dropping in unexpectedly, you know? I liked living on the east coast when we were there, but it didn't feel like a natural home to me. I still felt like a transplanted midwesterner.

CH: Yeah, it takes a while. I actually interviewed another transplanted midwesterner a few weeks ago and we talked about the prairie dust running through your veins

GK: The first time we came back for a visit after moving there, on the drive from the KC airport to Wichita, I made my husband pull over and I got out and just BREATHED. I didn't realize how clausterphobic (sp?) I felt in Jersey until I was in the wide open space of Kansas!

CH: I need to start wrapping up here, so, in closing, what above all do you feel like you need to communicate to the world while you are here?

GK: Oo, that's a big question. And it's kind of interesting. I've often said before that God rarely blesses me with original thought.  I find that God's calling to me has always been more in the area of finding ways to communicate the truth he's already given us, ways that hit home and are effective. (Teaching, drama, etc.)But if I were to have my OWN message, it would be something about the value of truth.  That you should never be afraid to seek out truth -- it is strong and can stand up to your questions and doubts. And that it will always be the most satisfying.

I always find it fascinating that human beings are capable of lying to themselves -- telling themselves something that they know isn't true, and believing themselves! How neurotic. "The truth will set you free." If we really believed that, we would live so differently.

CH: Thanks so much for making the time to do this! I've enjoyed it!

Interview conducted on 1/1/2011

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting interview. As someone who also writes church drama, I enjoyed hearing about Gwen's experience. Drama is a great way to encourage people to examine hard truths about themselves yet in a way that's not confrontational.