Well followers of this blog, allow me to give you an update on the progress of the show and the journey that I have been on. Since concluding the research portion of this project, I have been writing the show…slowly. It is not going as fast as I would like it to but that is to be expected when other classes and bits of life get thrown into the mix. I hope that you have enjoyed this journey as much as I have and are looking forward to the completion of the project.
The show overall has been narrowed down to two acts, each of which feature “flash back” vignettes that, when put together, flesh out the story of not only John Wesley himself, but his many interactions with his brother. These interactions include childhood, the holy club, traveling preachers, love life, conversion experiences, and of course overall brother interaction. I am not sure how much interaction there will be with John and his other siblings, solely because that would make the show very long (and I want a stage play not a movie script).Anyway, I hope that you enjoy this update. and I hope to continue to update as the journey continues so please stay tuned.
For my final blog for a few weeks, and the final blog of the research portion of my independent study, will be a reflection of the process of research. I would like to talk about my thoughts on the biographies, and then go into the personal writings of John Wesley. I will then conclude the blog with a heads up with what is coming up on this blog.
Now when I started the journey of finding biographies about John Wesley, I honestly thought I could get away by only looking at one or two that I already had in my library. I was wrong, but I am very glad that I was wrong. Because I was told to use more by my supervisor I was able to read a wider range of opinions on John Wesley. Each one of them had their own understanding of John as well as their own stories that follow their thoughts on John. I enjoyed reading the stories and seeing John in many lights, the problem that I had, however, was there was so much to process. I am thankful I had my blog to reflect to all of you my thoughts, but there were times in which this blog was not enough to process all that I have learned. I understand that there is more to be learned, but I think I currently have enough for my show at this point. Who knows, maybe during the process of writing I will read another biography. Only time will tell I guess.
I have to admit that I love John Wesley’s personal writings. I will also admit that the reading at times seemed to drag on. But the reading was full of who John Wesley truly was, or at least who he wanted people to see him as. I was able to pull many different stories and insights about John Wesley that I never knew before. It is hard to truly break away from the John Wesley that I grew up with, but it is important to do this because I cannot write a show about the John Wesley I grew up with. I must write a show about the true John Wesley. By reading John Wesley’s personal writings I am able to break my preconceived notions of who John Wesley was, and truly find the real John Wesley among all of this research.
I cannot wait to write this show, but alas I must wait till the semester starts. I have enjoyed the research portion of the independent study but it has come the time for me to take a break from writing in this blog. I will be taking a week off to relax and then return to this blog after the week. I will be reflecting on how the show is progressing, so the blog post may be shorter than you readers are used to. I hope that you have enjoyed this blog and my journey so far with John Wesley. Only the research portion of the journey has ended, but now the real fun begins. I must channel my inner John Wesley and put him on the page in a theatre drama. Let the fun of writing a theatre drama about John Wesley begin!
For this blog I would like to reflect on the people whom have given me nothing but encouragement throughout this journey of research. My wife has been a rock as I take time reading and writing every day. She has been nothing but understanding and supportive. On the days that I just want to stop reading and go to bed, she is the one that keeps me up reading and asking questions that keep me constantly excited. I do not know where this blog would be without her.
I would like to thank my independent study supervisor for believing in this project and not thinking that writing a play about John Wesley was farfetched. It was this professor who turned my eyes toward the project and also gave me many of my resources for my research. Without this professor my dream of writing a show about John Wesley would still just be a dream. So for all of this and much more I thank my United Methodist History professor.
I would lastly like to thank my friends and family for giving me nothing but support. They have been there with happiness for the project and nothing but good ideas. They have been willing to read my blog as well as say they are going to be part of the show, if it is ever put on stage. For all of this and so much more I am excited.
To all of those who are following my blog, I thank you for following. Tomorrow will be my last blog for a couple of weeks and I promise to make it a good one, but after then, stay tuned for more excitement of my journey with John Wesley.
Summer, as most Christians know, is the time for Vacation Bible School. For today’s blog I would like to write a scene that shows John Wesley talking to the students and professors at the Kingswood school. John pays special attention to the child who comes up to him inquiring why they rise so early. In all of my research there is very little interaction between John and young children. This allows me to take certain artistic liberties but I still plan on being as true to John Wesley as possible. I hope you enjoy the scene.
(Lights up. John enters a room with students sitting in rows waiting to hear from John)
Professor: Students, allow me the privilege to introduce you to John Wesley. He is the man that has helped created this fine educational establishment of which you all are educated.
John: Thank you professor that will be enough. Good morning children, I hear that your studies have been on schedule and that your knowledge grows by leaps and bounds on a daily basis. I am proud to see that your hard work will help you leave this place of education and you will contribute greatly to the society around you. I cannot stay long I am afraid, so if you any questions feel free to ask them now.
Student: Mr. Wesley I have a question for you if you will answer it for me.
John: Go ahead young student.
Student: Please correct me if I am wrong in this statement. Is it not your rules and guidelines that we must follow every day?
John: This is true. Is that your question child?
Student: My question is this. Why must we rise every day at four o’clock in the morning? Why must we never deviate from your rules and guidelines for the day?
Professor: This is the way it has been for years. How dare you child ask this of Mr. Wesley?
John: It is alright professor; the student is of age to ask such questions. Well child the answer is simple, by having a daily regiment one is able not to worry about the daily task of living but rather can focus on ones relationship with our Lord in heaven. This is the way all should be living. If you follow this practice as a youth you are far more likely to continue to live in this lifestyle as an adult. Is this a sufficient answer for you?
(To be continued)
I rather like this conversation between John and the student. He is very loving to the student when the professor yells at them. However, John is still very stern when dealing with answering the question. John sees nothing wrong in his ideas and guidelines that he makes the students follow. He sees this as the best option for the students and therefore they are better off following his lifestyle. I hope this scene, you feel, is true to John Wesley. I feel that it is, but I will let you be the judge.
For today I felt that I would go ahead and write more dialogue between the John Wesley and another person or persons. I am not sure what this scene will have in the show, if it will make it or not but I thought it would be a possible idea to have a character in which is a narrator of the show. Through this character, I can give the time for set changes, costume changes, and some interesting reflection between the narrator and the character of John Wesley. I see this narrator character to be a student researching John Wesley. By doing this I bring a context in today’s society and can play the difference between the two time periods. This scene below is further in the show as John is spending a moment writing a letter while he waits out a storm. I hope you enjoy this as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
(Lights Up, Student sits on bed reading. The sound of rain is played. John Wesley sits under a blanket as he writes a letter of reflection)
John: As the rain falls on my blanket brother I cannot help but remember that our journeys are never the easiest to travel. They are essential for the souls of our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as our own souls.
Student: This is yet again, nothing but a letter to his brother. When will I find something I can use for this paper? John Wesley is all well and good, but I do not have the time to keep reading pointless letters to his brother.
John: Brother, I cannot share with you all of the horror I have seen in my journeys around these countryside. I fear for my life almost every hour of every day but I do not show fear as I did on the boat to the American colonies. I have had many run ins with mobs of men whom feel that what I am trying to teach is against their beliefs. As I have told you many times my brother, I do not wish to distance ourselves from the Church of England, but rather want to change the church for the better. I do not know how much more I can continue to journey with all this danger filling my days and night. I wish you nothing but the best brother but I wish you would travel to the areas around your home. Your family is one thing but the souls of the nation are what are truly important.
Student: So let me get this straight. John fears for his life every day, does not want to continue with this fear for his life and yet he wants his brother, who is happily married, to leave his family at home and travel spreading the movement amongst all this danger. Why does this man put himself through this torture all for a movement, and what does he get in return?
(TO BE CONTINUED)
After writing this I am not so sure if I will use a narrator for the show. Yes it gives a different perspective and breaks up the old English. However, by breaking up the old English there is a possibility of the show not having flow and becoming too choppy. This is far from what I would like the show to do. I thought I would try the idea out, this is just a rough draft and it looks like I most likely will not keep it. But we shall see what the finished product looks like in the fall. Who knows whether the narrator will continue to be a character or not, I guess you will just have to stay tuned.
So for this final week of research blogs I thought it would only be fitting to begin to write the show and reflect on this tremendous journey I have been on with my new friend John Wesley. For today’s blog I wanted to reflect on how this journey truly began as well as a dream that I had during this research process.
As I have told many friends before, I have had an idea to write a show about Methodism and the people involved, and who was not more involved than John Wesley. I left undergrad constantly thinking about how I would use my theatre background at seminary. After my first year on campus I began to think of ways I could try and use my theatre knowledge. The chapel on campus has a lighting system that can be used for theatre, and then I learned that the campus used to have a group of students and staff that performed theatre shows. That group had long been disbanded and there was nothing currently going on. So I then decided this needed to be changed, I just needed an opportunity to show itself.
This is when I was graced to take United Methodist History. In this class many people talked about the different images of John Wesley. Some of which were good, some of which were not so good. In any case, however, they often were only pictures, stories, or movies. I did not encounter any portray of John on stage. It was then and there that I decided that it was time to begin a journey that would change my life. I then talked with the professor of the class and she was just as enthusiastic as I was. She guided me into looking further into other theatrical shows about John Wesley. To my surprise I found many but none that have been really successful or modern. By modern, I mean something that was around after the 1980s. I understand I make take some flak for that, but it is my opinion. I see that John Wesley has not been shown on stage for quite some time and that needed to be changed.
I then went into the process of making this be for credit, and getting the approval of the school. I thought this would be the point that would end the journey. I honestly felt that the school would not agree with me on undertaking this project, but to my surprise, they were more than excited to go on this journey with me. There are some professors that have told me that they would like to see it performed when the show is finally finished. I was also surprised to hear that almost all the students I have told about this project, have told me that they would love to be in the show. Many of which whom want to be John’s mother Susanna. I truly hope that the show is completed and edited to the point that I feel comfortable with allowing it to be performed. I cannot say that I am not super excited to see it performed. This brings me to my dream, one in which it is performed.
In my dream I had completed writing the show and it had been performed at the seminary. To my surprise there were many different upper level United Methodist pastors and staff was in attendance. At the end of the show some of the people from the greater church were wondering what I wanted to do with the show further. I told them my idea to have the show be shared with Methodists in America and around the world. I told them that I see it as a traveling show and that being a ministry all in itself. To my surprise they agreed and told me that they wanted to have me travel with the show, help cast it, and make changes as the show tours. I was so happy to have that happen. Unfortunately I woke up after that moment, but I now have a new goal for this show. My goal is to see this show tour the United States and then the world. I want Methodists to embrace the show, and go see it. I want to see how far the show can go. Does it have Broadway capabilities, I do not know, it is not written yet. But no matter what I plan on seeing this show through to the end, whatever that ends may be. Until then, I will blog, write, and enjoy this journey with John Wesley, I hope you keep following cause this ride is now picking up some speed.
I will be honest to you readers and say that this reading for today was a rough one because of its similarity to yesterday’s reading. So in lieu of this I have chosen to do what I did in my last blog…DIALOGUE BLOG. I hope you enjoy.
(Lights come up, the stage is bare. Samuel Sr. runs in from off stage)
Samuel Sr: Fire, Fire, Fire!
Susanna: Come along kids. We must get far away from the house. Keeper do you we have all the children?
Keeper: I counted heads Mrs., however we seem to be one short.
Susanna: Which child is still in our home?
Susanna: Samuel you must retrieve John from the house!
Samuel: He is already lost Susanna, we must be thankful for what and who we have with us now.
(Lights fade on stage. Lights up on side balcony. Young John is lying in bed while smoke surrounds the room. Young John wakes.)
Young John: Mother? Mother? Father? Brother Samuel? Sisters? Anyone here? (coughs) There is smoke (coughs) Mother where are you, I need you.
Susanna: (offstage) John, John, John
Young John: Mother please help me.
(John locates a chair and picks it up from the floor. Young John throws the chair offstage. A chair flies on stage.)
Susanna: John, my baby boy!
Young John: Mother
Susanna: Someone save my son.
(Extras enter from offstage begin to mimic rescuing Young John. Lights out in balcony and stage)
TO BE CONTINUED
This is a very rough beginning of the show. I want to build off of this scene to make it more dramatic. I will say that it is interesting having read the vast amounts of biographies and personal works, resulting in me now having to take this new found knowledge and put it to paper. This task, I will admit will not be easy, and those around me will probably be annoyed when I begin to start talking in Old English in order to accurately write in the setting of the show. I hope that you readers will continue to journey on with me as what I thought would be a short journey, may have well turned into a long journey full of me loving and hating the man I have studied for this entire summer. But the research journey is rounding the final turn. One more week of reading and reflecting, which I hope you have enjoyed, and taking time to storyboard. I am hoping readers to be able to share more another time. But it has once again come to that time in which I must ask you to stay tuned, because you never know what I will write next
The reading for today was John Wesley writing to many different people, of whom I feel, is not going to be important to the story that I want to portray on stage. So for today’s two blog posts I have decided to combine them and would share with you readers an idea for a scene that I have been mulling over in my head. I would like to lay out the scene so that you understand why the characters are acting in the way that they are.
To set up the scene you must picture John Wesley on the boat traveling to America. The boat is tossing back and forth as the waves come crashing along the side of the boat. John is a younger man and is traveling with his brother Charles to America. They have Moravian traveling companions whom seem to not be scared of the storm, as John and Charles are. Here is the scene of John Wesley and Charles Wesley on the boat to America.
(Lights up, John looks out over the water trying to keep his eye on the horizon. Charles enters)
Charles: My brother, there you are?
John: Charles this is not the time to be by my side.
Charles: But John the service has begun to start (singing begins off stage) Can you not hear the Moravians beginning to sing.
John: Believe me Charles I hear their voices, but I am in no proper physical shape to be preaching to them.
Charles: I understand, but it was you that always told me that it is our duty as Christians to preach to all those that will listen.
John: (yells) how can I preach when I have no words to share!
Charles: You are beside yourself John. What has gotten into you? You never have yelled at me in such a manner. I feel this sea air has put a damper on your spirit.
John: It has done so much more than just damper my spirit Charles. I fear this journey. With every moment that passes I feel closer to death. Then I look at the Moravians and they just seem at peace amongst the storm. It is as if they do not fear death at all. Do you fear death brother?
Charles: I do not know. I have never thought about death in the mass that you have.
John: How can you not consider death, it is what we have been planning for as we have shared the word with the English and the reason we are traveling to the American Colonies.
Charles: I know, but I know that what I am doing is the Lord’s work. If you no longer feel the same I do not know what to say. So I will leave you with your thoughts and will join the Moravians in their worship. I just pray you join as well. (Exits)
John: You brother may have the saving faith but I am no longer sure I do.
(Lightning flashing across the sky and screams come from off stage. John falls to the ground as the boat seems to rock back and forth. Peter Böhler enters)
Peter: Are you alright there Brother John.
John: Yes Brother Peter, I am well.
Peter: You say that you are well but I look into your eyes and see no happiness but rather fear. What are you fearing John?
John: Yes, Can you answer me this question that has been weighing on my heart.
Peter: Go ahead brother
John: How is it that you and your fellow Moravians can be on this boat during a storm such as this and sing hymns when everyone else around you shivers in fear?
Peter: Because we have faith in the Lord. May I ask you a question John?
John: Of course
Peter: Do you have faith in the Lord?
(To be continued)
Well there you have it readers. That is a very very rough draft of a scene for the show. I know I have to work more on my old English, and I hope to do that in my future posts. Tomorrow may be more of the same, or not. But I promise you readers, I will keep you on your toes, so stay tuned.
As I have for the past few days I will be writing a letter to the person that I read John Wesley wrote letters to. Today’s letter is addressed to Sarah Ryan. What you might find interesting is how John Wesley addresses the letter. This is not something that I chose to do, but how John actually addresses all his letters to Sarah Ryan. I have chosen to write more about the aftermath of the altercation between Sarah and John’s wife. I hope you enjoy this letter.
My Dear Sister,
It has been yet a few days since the incident at dinner with my wife. I cannot help but feel that I am partially to blame because as I have written earlier, it was my letter to you that led her to interrupt our dinner that night. I pray that you did not at any moment that night felt the sting of danger. I pray that your days have gotten better since this incident with my wife and that it does not deter you from continuing sending letters to me. Your letters often find me when I need them most, and for that I thank you. I pray that my wife has not scared you away from doing your Christian duty and serving God as you have been these past weeks. Stay strong in faith and in this movement in which we are a part of. Do not forget that the Lord loves and is the only judge when our earthly bodies breathe their last breathes, let no human, and whether that be male or female deter you from doing God’s work. I am eager to receive your next letter with excitement as always.
Your affectionate brother
So it has finally appeared. In a previous blog post I wrote on the confrontation between John Wesley’s wife and a woman by the name of Sarah Ryan. Sarah Ryan was believed to be a woman that John was enamored with, at least that is what his wife grew to believe. In this altercation John’s wife bursts into the room in which Sarah Ryan is serving dinner to John and his guests. John’s wife then proceeds to ridicule and judge Sarah Ryan, her lifestyle, and her history of men. The problem with that past post was that there was no actual account or backlash to this point. What I was writing on at this point was based on biographies and not on the actual written work of John Wesley. Well readers, this is no longer so, because in today’s reading I read several letters written by John Wesley to the woman Sarah Ryan. More importantly there is a letter that is written shortly after the incident between John’s wife and Sarah Ryan.
John’s letter that followed the incident reads as such: “Last Friday, after many severe words, my —— left me, vowing she would see me no more. As I had wrote to you the same morning, I began to reason with myself, till I almost doubted whether I had done well in writing, or whether I ought to write to you at all. After prayer that doubt was taken away. Yet I was almost sorry that I had written that morning. In the evening, while I was preaching at the chapel, she came into the chamber where I had left my clothes, searched my pockets, and found the letter there, which I had finished, but had not sealed. While she read it, God broke her heart; and afterwards found her in such a temper as I have not seen her in for several years. She has continued in the same ever since. So I think God has given a sufficient answer, with regard to our writing to each other.” John will later conclude the letter with questions that deal with how Sarah’s life is going, not as one that is too much of a spiritual nature but more of a general interest.
I find that this letter adds so much more to the story of Sarah Ryan and John Wesley. All of this will make an appearance in the show because Sarah Ryan was deeply important to the person of John Wesley. She is one of a handful of women that John wrote to on a regular basis and he often wrote about how she had renewed his strength in God. I would like to show more about Sarah Ryan than just her altercation with John’s wife. I desire to write about more of how Sarah renewed John’s strength, but I also realize the power that lies in the scene with the altercation. I am extremely grateful for John Wesley writing more about this event. It should be interesting to see what happens as I take this letter, other similar letters, and research I have gotten from the biographies to write the scene, or scenes, for the show. Stay tuned to see what happens in the future with John Wesley and Sarah Ryan when their characters are portrayed on stage.