Why do Performing Arts at Urbana 15?

The Urbana 15 Performing Arts Team is here to tell stories and make them live in ways that will help you experience and remember them, be challenged and changed by them. We do this because Jesus did it, laying out the gospel using comedy, drama, angst, and suspense in stories and images that have not only stayed around, but have also shaped us for thousands of years. We think that’s pretty compelling.

For us, the best part of the process is getting inside the story, seeing what the characters saw, understanding how things went down and why, and asking, What was that like?  We spent over a year studying the passages we’ll be working on here at Urbana, getting to know Matthew as a writer and his audience as hearers. The Performing Arts Team basically takes the same path as the Bible Study Team, studying, exploring, applying, and coming to grips with the text. 

What does that look like? Here’s a glimpse. Last summer we were sitting outside a cafe studying the women at the tomb. (I don’t want to wreck anything for you, but Jesus rises from dead at the end of Matthew’s Gospel.) Galvin made this observation about the text: “It’s kind of odd that Jesus meets them. The women are already doing what the angel told them to do—they’re on their way to Galilee to tell the disciples he has risen from the dead.”

We all look at the text: he’s right.

He continues, “It almost seems like they’re the last ones hired. Like the landowner, Jesus doesn’t really have to show up to greet them—he still does. But why?”

Then we make the text dance. Or sing. Or act. Why? Because while talks and Bible studies are fantastic (we love them), different modes of communication help different kinds of people...and some stories are better danced than acted or sung than spoken. Art calls our attention to fine points in the text; it directs us to what we might prefer to avoid and coaxes us to consider angles and voices that might otherwise have stayed hidden. 

A couple notes:

  1. For Urbana 15, we chose to have different actors and dancers play Jesus in different sketches and dances. Jesus is a huge personality, so it’s nice to get different sides of him in different players.
  2. Now that Urbana 15 has happened, you can watch the recordings of the performances. If you want a script or song, go to alisonsiewert.com and order what you want. There’s a nominal fee, and you’ll get both the script and the performance rights to use it, as well as a link to music. Please do not attempt to copy scripts from videos. Our work is copyrighted, so that would be stealing. If you want to use videos for large meetings or broadcast, contact Urbana so we can work out permissions.

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