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TJ @ Viz-A-Viz

Number Tree - SN Dublin

Some of this newsletter was actually written before you read the last one. Because the last newsletter was full of LIFE news, the Dublin news has had to wait until now.

We were in Dublin (strictly Dun Loughaire) the week 7th-14th October, doing work mainly in two schools, in conjuction with three churches, as part of a Sound Nation project. During the first part of the school week, Propaganda and Ian were mainly taking small lessons, so Simon and I were not needed. Later, they performed DJ (see elsewhere) several times, which required technical support. We also helped produce and edit Big Bruva, and other material for the end of the week show; Sound.

Throughout the week we had excellent support from the churches, and, in particular the local youth workers who looked after us. They also made sure that we had Irish pounds and we kept amused in the evenings. On the first Sunday, at one of the churches involved I was approached by a visiting Northern Irish lady who was returning to NI and gave us her remaining Irish money. Our hosts were similarly generous throughout the week.

Normally, the event at the end of a SN week is just to promote acceptance and the cafes, and the real preaching of the Gospel is done later. In Dublin, however, there were several occasions when God said that this week would be different, and the youth in Dublin were ready for the Gospel. Having promoted Sound all week, we had no idea how many would come the the event. In the end, the hall was filled (about 300), and everyone ha a great time. At the end Dennis asked for a response from those who wanted to come to the cafes and find out more about God; at least three-quarters of the hall stood, which was an amazing sight. In all we had a very encouraging week.

Since then we have done a whole host of things - a day in Southampton doing a Golden Years show (for older people) and a youth show - a few more LIFE shows - performing DJ (eight times) in a school near Bristol. Probably our busiest week since Dublin was a mission week in Wallasey (on the other side of the Mersey from Liverpool). There we did DJ in schools, children's shows, a Golden Years show, a LIFE show and a sort of mini youth show.

The DJs that we did in Thornbury, near Bristol, were my first solo trip. DJ only requires one technician, so I went with with Propaganda in Andy and Joy's vehicle: a Toyota Space Cruiser. This had enough space for all four of us and the PA equipment that we needed. It also had a sliding door like a minibus which delighted James who sung the A-Team theme tune and jumped out at every opportunity.

Since then we have been preparing and rehearsing for the Tinsel and Truth show in December.

Prayer

Pray for the youth of Dublin, that God would continue to move powerfully there and bring many of them back to Him.
Pray for the Tinsel and Truth tour, and our stamina. Having local shows involves a good deal more late night travelling that staying away.
I am now coming to the point where I need to start thinking about what I will do next year, get a job, continue as a technician somewhere, do a PhD, or something else. Please pray for me, decisions are not my strong point.
One of the things I found hardest in Dublin was just relating to the kids, and trying to get along with them. I don't really need to do this very much, but would like to be better at it so I don't feel quite so redundant.
Viz-A-Viz as a whole is growing, developing and changing quite fast. People are moving on and others will be joining. Pray the the directors will find God's will and the right resources for Viz-A-Viz.

The Sound Nation Project

The Sound Nation project is a very long-term mission. On the surface, we do a week of school lessons and assemblies in an area, culminating in a big end-of-week multi-media in-yer-face, on-yer-feet, loud youth event. In reality, Ian, the project manager, spends months planning the event with the local churches and giving them the training they need to follow up the week with a series of cafe venues, and later a discovery course for those who want to find out more about God.

Deconstructing Johnny

One of the most powerful pieces of theatre that Propaganda Theatre Company produce is "DJ". A short sketch introduces Johnny, a promising young footballer who is also something of a "bad-lad". Johnny is in trouble at school, caught up in drugs, stealing, and now has a pregnant girlfriend. After the sketch, the audience get to meet Johnny in a Jerry-Springer-style show (The Jerry Spring Onion Show). They get to put questions and their opinions to Johnny, and often the exchange gets quite heated. DJ gets the young people to highlight some of the problems that might be present in their own lives; they tell each other what is wrong.

Big Bruva logoFor the end of week show in Dublin we took a camcorder and created our very own Big Brother film. The team was filmed "arriving" and "living together", all of us with the aim of being the most popular team member in a vote at the end of the week. Two of the team were voted out before the end of the week, each team member having two votes to cast in the "diary room" (okay, so it was a toilet cubicle). TJ was first to go, and, when the rest of the team caught onto his underhand tactics "Sly Simon" followed. When it came down the the vote at the Sound event, Dave's classic rendition of a medley of Bewitched singles, accompanied by, erm, stylised Irish dancing gained him the winning cheer.

TJ = Thespie John?

As you know, my role in life, as well as in Viz-A-Viz, is not to be an actor, but a technician. It came as a surprise to find myself increasingly involved in acting roles, though I haven't quite been absorbed into the ranks of Progaganda Theatre Company yet. A brief resume:
  • Both Simon and I act as bouncers for the Jerry Spring Onion Show, breaking up the "fights" that occur between Johnny and carefully positioned plants, and attempting to prevent Johnny from hitting anyone who is not a plant.
  • My voice now features in the Golden Years Show as a voice-over for one of the sketches.
  • My role in Big Bruva was as the annoying, arrogant know-it-all, and it was only because of considerable acting talent that this got me voted out first.
  • I also got to play a role in a Blind Date show we did in the lunch-hour in one of the schools. And no, the girl picked Welsh Dave, not me. <sniff>
  • In Wallasey I performed twice for children's shows. I had to play the part of five parrots, two squirrels and a hedgehog - two at a time! They were puppet shows.
The one reservation I have with this is that I appear to have been typecast already. Most of the above roles required an upper-class accent or manner. (Obviously this is not true of the puppet shows - the squirrels were very common).