for the
Family Service
St. Augustine's

March 27, 2005

These are notes and comments on some of the items which appear in the Family Service script. Links from the script point to these entries; clicking the links in the left hand column of the table takes you back to the corresponding link in the script  - or, where more than one link from the script points to the note, back to the first such link.

The comments are typically related to features of the service which are specific to our church or the time of the service, or which for some other reason we think might require alteration for another setting.

For references to the internal geography of the church, it might be helpful to inspect the plan.

Properties :
  • Shawls, head scarves for the actors ( looked after by the actors );
  • Large key for DD ( on the altar by the imaginary door );
  • Lipstick or marker to mark Jesus's hands and feet ( at the back of the church );
  • Easter eggs to hand out at the end of the service ( in a basket on the table by door ).
Furniture :
  • On the altar : Six unlit candles in candlesticks and the cross;
  • Two pavement candles, unlit, stand in front of the altar on either side of a small table with unlit tea candles on it.

CONGREGATION There are several "crowd" parts where the congregation can join in. The relevant fragments of script were displayed on the projector screen, and also included in the programme.

DO NOT USE THE DOOR .... because Jesus is no longer in His physical body. John 20.26 : "The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them ...". Details will obviously depend on the geography of your performance space.

DOOR Our door into the Upper Room was imaginary, situated at the end of the imaginary passage into the Upper Room. The context of the action - particularly the repeated unlocking-locking sequence - should identify it satisfactorily.

( - but if we'd had our "paper door" when we presented this service, we might have used it. )

HIDE This is an inelegant device to get Jesus into a position from which he can later appear without coming through the door. It worked well enough, perhaps because the congregation were concentrating on the words of an unfamiliar hymn. It also relies on our potted palm tree, which is just about big enough to hide someone reasonably well. You might well be able to do better.

KEY The key to the door of the upper room. It is significant as an indication of the disciples' fear and confusion after the crucifixion; it is kept on the altar, and always used when anyone enters or leaves the room. It should be large enough to be recognisable as a key from the congregation, though not so large as to look comical.

KNOCK ON THE DOOR As the door is imaginary, so are the knocks ( - and the locks; see below ). The knocker should go through the motions of knocking on the door; a ( fairly ) synchronised "sound effect" of knocking adds to the effect.

LOCKS Mimes locking the non-existent door, using the key on the altar, then puts the key back.

MARKS The wounds left by the nails through hands and feet. They don't have to be overemphasised. We use lipstick, or similar colouring material.

ON SCREEN - or by other means. We had a screen, so we used it. Or just leave it out; the Narrator is about to announce it. We thought it worth emphasising.

PASSAGE church plan with path marked The passage is an accident of our church. We have no way of reaching the area round the altar, which is where the action of the service takes place, without coming from the back of the church to the front. ( See the plan for details. ) In many cases, where entries and exits are part of the action we can suppose that the ways in and out are between the body of the church and the altar area, so that movements through the church are natural. In this service, though, we wanted the body of the church to be a part of the "Upper Room", so for consistency the doors had to be effectively in the church walls.

The imaginary passage was our solution. By consistently imagining that the green path in the diagram was outside the wall, we were able to move people in and out as required. We didn't make this assumption explicit, but it was clearly easily understood by the congregation.

PAVEMENT CANDLES Technical term : candles in tall candlesticks, which stand on the floor with the candles at elbow to shoulder height. They're not necessary for the action, but add a litle variety.

READER 1, READER 2, AND READER 3 There is no particular reason for having three readers for the prayers. We usually have several so that more children can be involved in the prayers.

SHAWLS At the beginning of the service, all keep their faces covered with shawls to indicate despair. As they begin to believe in the resurrection the shawl begins to slip to their shoulders.

TEX WILL NOW SING ... There's no dramatic reason for a solo, but it adds a little variety. It also means that no one else can sing the song. You decide.

UPPER ROOM All the action in the service takes place in the "Upper Room" in which Jesus and the disciples met for the Last Supper. ( This is a convenient dramatic device, not entirely implausible but not supported by the scriptural accounts. You might wish to introduce some comment on this in the service. )

Events which happen outside the room are introduced as eye-witness accounts by characters who have seen or taken part in the events. This has the advantage of consistency, and the congregation do not have to cope with repeated changes of scenes which are mostly or wholly imaginary anyway.

See also "PASSAGE" and "DOOR"