Liturgical Drama

What is Liturgical drama?

Liturgical drama ranges from the simple Palm Sunday procession of children carrying leaves down the street and into the Church, through a range of ceremonial variations to sophisticated operatic presentations of the Elijah and the Messiah.

Liturgical drama highlights certain Biblical stories and is often performed during festivals on the Christian calendar. Most liturgical drama is performed around Christmas or Easter, however other special events may be celebrated with a play as well.

Liturgical drama may stick very closely to the Bible text or creatively explore and modernise the original story. The art form has a long history dating from the early centuries of Christianity, and was most prominent during the Medieval period of history.

Liturgical drama may be performed in a church, school, hall, theatre or outdoor area. It may be organised by the church, the community or a professional company. It may also be filmed or recorded.  

My Experience:

I enjoyed being involved in Christmas Eve programs as a child and have recently had the opportunity to work on organising the annual Live Nativity of my local congregation. Performed one week before Christmas, this program is more of a play than carol service and has a script, cast, and set.

The advantages of working with liturgical drama are the fact that you have a church full of people willing to be involved: for example by dressing up and acting, providing resources, ushering and and advertising the program. There is also a ready made audience of congregation members with the possibility of attracting more audience members from the community. Churches commonly have stages in their hall and all but the inner city parishes have car park facilities. There are also musicains of some quality willing to be involved.

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picture from morguefile.com
picture from morguefile.com

The disadvantages and challenges of working with liturgical drama include: working with a limited budget, fulfilling congregational expectations, organising a cast of ameteurs and creating something original from well known subject matter. Liturgical drama may also be percieved as having lower artistic status than secular drama.

However, my experience as both a performer and organiser have shown that Liturgical drama is a worthwhile activity. The challenge involved in creating a smooth and professional event outways the disadvantages of being limited to a "niche" or special interest area, and the events are certainly enjoyed by all attendees

Nativity Programs around the world.

Browse these sites for interesting information and images. As these sites are independent and I can not create a return link, please use the "back" <-- button on your browser to return to my hub page.

Picture from bigfoto.com
Picture from bigfoto.com

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is often the site of Special productions.

Photo courtesy Photos8.com
Photo courtesy Photos8.com

Our 2009 Live Nativity Production (with images of varying quality)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Setting up the stageScenery SetsThe finished resultCostumesThe Camel
Setting up the stage
Setting up the stage
Scenery Sets
Scenery Sets
The finished result
The finished result
Costumes
Costumes
The Camel
The Camel

The 2010 production used my script. We met frequently throughout the year, with the production team reading the script through to see how it ran and adding their suggestions. The first time this happened, I was pleased to find that they did not wish to change the basic structure and appreciated their close attention and feedback.

The script used the same stage as the previous year, but with the addition of a modern hotel in the corner, because I had employed a device where the modern hotel reminded the travelers of the inn in Bethlehem. 

The day of the production threatened rain, which was very unusual for December in Australia. It rained several times during the day, but the evening was cold and almost fine. About 300 people attended despite having to wear winter coats and bring blankets.

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2 comments

Linda Whiteloco 6 years ago

Ever since my pastor said "your gifts are with your passion", I knew God was calling me to do all sorts of liturgical drama as my major in College was Speech/Drama and my love for Jesus. Could anyone out there get me started in my UM church? thank you in advance-lida


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creativearts2009 5 years ago Author

Sorry Lida, I missed seeing your comment before. Your Pastor has already recognised your talents, now you need an occasion, an idea and a few other people involved. Try working with the Worship Committee regarding worship segments, the Sunday School regarding children's presentations or the Social Committee regarding a special evening. Of course if children are involved, you need to be police checked and trained in safe working with children.

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