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.
There were some new developments in today’s reading. More details about the relationship John had with Sophia and his wife Mary. Some of the new developments will definitely make their way to the stage, but also some will not because it shows a side of John Wesley that may not be treated too well by the audience. I do have some new locations and people that will be unique to have on stage. One of the new people were part of the Moravian tradition, which speak German.
The person that I am speaking of is Peter Böhler. John Wesley met with him in February 1738 and was intrigued by Peter’s understanding of the nature of faith, and so he wanted to learn more. It was Peter that told Wesley to “Preach faith till you have it, and then, because you have it you will preach faith” (Collins 1999, 56). Wesley took the words to heart and begun to preach faith while he himself did not. This would be something that would be unique to see on stage because this was a very important point in John Wesley’s life. The Moravian faith was important to Wesley and bits and pieces made their way into the Methodist faith. In the end, however, the Moravian faith did not agree with what John Wesley was trying to accomplish resulting in John Wesley disconnecting himself from the Moravians.
I have often heard that John Wesley had denied a woman communion. This is a shocking fact that as a Methodist I was a little disturbed, based on the fact that United Methodists have an open table. I was more shocked, however, to who the woman was that was denied communion. It was none other than John Wesley’s love in America, Sophia Hopkey. John Wesley loved this woman, and wanted to be married to her, but in the end lost her to another man. However, what is interesting is how after he lost her, he began to publicly humiliate her for how she lived and her religious practices. It was during this public humiliation that he denied her and her family communion. Because he denied her communion he had to defend why he did so. In the end, the reasons he defended were not enough and Sophia’s husband had John Wesley thrown in jail because of what he had done to him and Sophia. Before John Wesley could be convicted of anything he escaped America and headed back to England. This story is unique to John Wesley and the story of Methodism in America. He would never return to America after these events and would side with England during the war. Wesley would, later in Methodism, rule over the Methodists in America from England because of his previous bad experiences. I plan on using this story because of the historical significance in future Methodist decisions, but also to show a more human side to John Wesley. It was part of the John Wesley that often gets glossed over in discussion about him.
The problem I am facing in writing the show is not quantity of information, but how long John Wesley lived. He did so much up until the day that he died it is going to be hard to make choices of what to include and what not to include. I want the story to be interesting, so in order for that to happen, I may have to combine many years together. Years that all he seemed to do was preach will most likely be put together into one or two scenes. Times in which he is conversing with his ministers in many locations may have to turn into face to face conversations with only one or two ministers. I do not want to take too many artistic liberties but I do understand that in order for the show to be enjoyable some liberties need to be taken. Wesley’s life is one of greatness and all of his events should be looked into and portrayed in some way from the letters to his family to the annual conferences of his Methodist movement, from stealing kisses from Sophia to arguing against predestination. The journey is far from over, but the show is beginning to come together. I see how the show will start, most likely the fire early in his childhood, and how it will end, his final words as he dies. It is the parts in between to look forward to.