In the Beginning: Our Journey
A man was going away on a journey. He called his three servants to him and divided his property and wealth amongst them to look after until his return. The two who received the most, invested the money and used it and speculated and accumulated and when the master returned, they had doubled what had been entrusted to them. But the third servant was too scared, he squirreled the money away, and when the Master returned he was angry with that unfaithful servant.
This is a paraphrase of the parable of the talents – a pretty well known story and one that I heard many times growing up. But one day I was struck by one aspect of it - the third servant wasn’t in trouble because he didn’t have much talent, he was in trouble because he didn’t use what he’d been given. I was an actor and I’d always been worried about whether I was good enough. How talented was I? Could I make a living? Could I become a star? What if I couldn’t? And then I realised...none of that was my job. My job was to use what I had and to trust God with the results - these talents, that so defined my self-image, they weren’t mine at all, they were God’s.
I always struggled to connect with God through church, I just found what was said and done lacking... something. I enjoyed being part of the youth group and I believe I met with God in that setting but this was the exception. Then I began to really get serious about theatre and I realised that through story, if you could bring the characters to life again, experience the emotions of the events and share this with an audience, then something special could happen, you reached something other, something spiritual, something beyond the normal, the something that had been lacking.
At the time I was working with Saltmine Theatre Company as an actor and a writer. But I came to see that part of my role was to help others to use and develop their God-given talents for performance. This led me, with Saltmine’s blessing, to help to create a BA (Hons) course in Applied Theology and Performing Arts with Regents Theological College in 2009. Our desire at Regents was to see what happened when performers had worked hard to develop and deepen their skills and had a considered and thought-through theology – what would their work then look like?
I also discovered that I had some talent for acting and performing and decided that I needed to use these talents to share what I had realised with other people, perhaps they felt the same as me and this was a way to make theology ‘live’ for them too. So I set up a youth theatre that ran for a year, this was great but didn’t capture what I was searching for. So how could I get closer to this ‘alive/special/something’ that had inspired me? I felt like there was this amazing horizon in the distance, this potential, but I was marooned on a small island with no way of getting there. I decided that what I needed was to hone and develop my skills in an attempt to reach that horizon. So eventually I arrived at Regents Theological College (after swearing that I was done with education) where I met Rich and the next stage of my exploration into story and performance began.
One of the students on the first cohort of that course was Ollie Ward. In his final year, his dissertation looked at Jesus’ parables as vehicles for revelation – it asked why Jesus taught in that way and what value story and parable might have for the church today. Since then Ollie has assisted me in teaching the course whilst continuing to study further at Masters Level (after swearing he was done with education). The questions he raised in that dissertation however have continued to energise and inspire us both.
Atticladder is the next step on the journey towards answering those questions. It is a place where the theories and ideas of the course can be given shape. As such it is an experimental company but one that seeks to speak beyond academia. We hope to inspire others and to help them develop their talents. We believe that this is our job and we will do it to the best of our ability – and the results are in God’s hands.
If you are an actor/performer and wish to develop your talents further click
to see more information about the
BA in Performing Arts and Applied Theology at Regents.
If you are interested in booking Atticladder to run workshops please click