2021 Faith in 3D virtual performance of scenes from The Living.
In its seven-year history, Wilshire’s Faith in 3D has produced dramas, musicals, famous plays and lesser-known works. But never before has it done a socially-distanced, 100%-Zoom-recorded, YouTube-streaming play about a pandemic during a pandemic.
Due to COVID-19, this year’s show, scenes from Anthony Clarvoe’s The Living, is being rehearsed and recorded entirely over Zoom with cast and crew working from their homes.
It will be shown Wilshire’s YouTube channel at 7:30 p.m. on three consecutive nights: Thursday, Feb. 4, Friday, Feb. 5, and Saturday, Feb. 6. Due to our contract with the publisher, the show will be available to watch only at 7:30 each night. Unlike worship and other church events, the videos will not remain on YouTube after premiering.
The Living is a poignant, sometimes humorous look at the London plague of 1665. Based partly on first-hand written accounts, the work explores the reactions of the citizens as well as the government’s management of the crisis. “The play was written in 1991 and first produced in 1993,” says director Nancy Poynter, “and yet there are many lines that sound as if we are discussing the current pandemic.”
Cast member Molly Shepard observes, “The way people are reacting in the middle of the coronavirus is very similar to the reaction between people during the plague. I wish that wasn’t the case, but it makes the play especially relevant right now.”
Jim White, another cast member, says, “The show holds up a mirror to our society… What will the crisis bring out in our culture? Will it be every man for himself — or woman — or will we be able to come together, work together and call on our better angels?”
The three D’s in Faith in 3D stand for drama, dialogue and dessert, and each production has featured a theatrical presentation followed by a time of dessert and a moderated discussion of the play’s themes.
This year will follow suit as much as possible. Following the drama, Senior Pastor George Mason will reflect on how the issues raised by the playwright can be applied to the concerns we face today. The presentation will also include a musical number performed by Darren DeMent, Molly Shepard and Amanda Mintz.
As for the third D, dessert, viewers will be left to their own devices. Normally the dessert served is carefully chosen to match the play; in this spirit, Poynter suggests “anything apple, preferably apple pie a la mode.” The reason why will be apparent after seeing the show.
This year’s team has never been together. Auditions, planning meetings, rehearsals and the recording of the performance have been done over Zoom. Each actor created a video studio at home; cast members have rehearsed or performed from their kitchen, home office, bedroom, a closet and even a bathroom. Actor Meredith Mosley attended one rehearsal from her car while waiting for her daughter, and Poynter worked for more than two months from Northern Virginia.
Mary Morgan and Laurie Diffee are coordinating technological and logistical matters related to production while David Hammons is the show’s video editor.
Faith in 3D was an outgrowth of Wilshire’s Vision 2020 strategic plan. Associate Pastor Doug Haney recalls, “Mary Ann Hill and I were co-leaders of the theological dialogue team for Vision 2020, and we were searching for a forum that would promote theological conversation in a non-combative way. Wilshire had a long history of various sorts of dramatic enterprises. So we wondered if we might lure Nancy Poynter out of retirement to lead the effort. Thankfully Nancy agreed, and the rest is history.”
Many of the actors have participated multiple times — some of them every year. Faith in 3D veteran Steve Brookshire says, “I think it’s another way for our church to explore challenging and difficult issues in a setting that lets you think creatively about the issues and be entertained.”
Haney notes, “I don’t know of any other faith community producing plays of this caliber with the goal of helping people of faith consider where God is in all of this.”
How to watch
• You have three chances to see Faith in 3D. It will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4, Friday, Feb. 5 and Saturday, Feb. 6. It will be a YouTube premiere, meaning it will stream starting promptly at 7:30 each night after a brief countdown.
• Please note that the show will not remain on YouTube after the premiere. Each night the video will be deleted from YouTube shortly after the premiere ends.
• The direct YouTube links will be shared in Wilshire’s churchwide midweek email on Wednesday, Feb. 3, and on social media. Even without the links, the show should be easy to find by visiting Wilshire’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/wilshirebaptist.