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Three Similarities in Theater and Writing


(first printed Dec. 7, 2018)

“All the world’s a stage,” so they say, and a backdrop for what we experience, how we react and respond, what we do, what and how we learn.

For six years, I worked in theater, the person behind the scenes as production manager, costume assistant, seamstress, hair/makeup assistant, and as backstage rehearsal support. Long hours, late nights, and large cups of strong coffee were my best friends during those years.

And now as a writer, long hours, late nights, and lots of coffee are still my best friends. I get to work with a different type of “stage”: the backdrop of paper and the illustration of ink. And my characters are, well, the actors. And I’m the director. Or at least I try to be.

Do I miss the stage? You bet I do! A piece of my heart belongs to the world of theater, and I secretly want to join a traveling acting team. (Shhh, don’t tell anyone!) The picture above is special to me because it was a debut production. “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” and the actors who performed each role ravished students, faculty, and staff with its swashbuckling, wit, and intense moments during every night of the performance.

Delightfully enough, the acting and writing are similar. And without further ado, may I present three things wherein writing and acting similar.

  1. Creativity
    Just as the director must devise creative ways to direct the cast in how to produce just the right emotion, the right action, the right message that conveys the correct audience response, so does the writing need to create compelling characters, engaging plot, and a strong message that encourages readers.
  2. Conciseness
    Just as the script must include those actions, cues, and dialogue needs to tell a tight story with a lesson, moral, truth, or concept, so writing should convey a well-planned plot that presents only those details that further enhance the story’s message, the character’s desire/goal, and the author’s intent.
  3. Cleverness
    Just like every road has a turn, every great play has that twist, that sudden “What? No way! That can’t—” which catches the viewer off guard and sets them on the edge of their seat. Likewise, a great story will have that shock factor that grabs the reader by the throat or causes their heart to connect with the character, and thereby compelling the reader to read just one more chapter until they’ve reached the end.

My creative friends, seek to craft a work that is creative, concise, and clever, for in doing so, readers (and viewers alike) will have a wonderful reading (or viewing) experience.

Your Turn!

What other similarities would you add?

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Shining Light Players

Working backstage theater is one of the most rewarding aspects in the creative world. You get to see a lot of things happen, take shape, and touch a lot of lives. Plus, you’ve never seen so much coffee consumed or donuts eaten in your life until you’ve been backstage!

During the time I worked backstage primarily in the costume department but covering many other areas, I met a lot of wonderful people, including Stephen Burke and family who have a beautiful outreach with the Shining Light Players.

Since 2013, Stephen and his family has written and produced several plays  featuring the lives of missionaries and scenes from classic literature. At an event several years ago, I watched Stephen and his wife, Alisha, perform the story of Jim and Elisabeth Eliot. Such a powerful story with a heartwarming message of hope and inspiration about the dedication of this great missionary and his wife Elisabeth.

The Shining Light Players travel all over the US and perform in local theaters, universities, and churches. In 2019 alone, they have been in sixteen churches from Atlanta, Raleigh, NC, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Some highlight performances include The Hiding Place: Life of Corrie ten Boom, The Day of the East Wind (Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth), and A Little Women Christmas.

Information about Shining Light Players.

Upcoming Performances

The Hiding Place: Life of Corrie ten Boom

The Bill Rice Ranch, Murfreesboro, TN, October 11, 2019.
Pensacola Christian College, Pensacola, FL, February 8, 2020.

A Little Women Christmas
A delightful new Christmas play adapted from Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel.

December 13, 2019, 7 pm
December 14, 2019, 3 pm

The Rex Theatre, Pensacola, FL

Follow Shining Light Players.


Who Is behind Shining Light Players?

Stephen Joseph Burke, Artistic Director.

At age twelve, Stephen and his two sisters established their own theatre company, producing a Christian musical every year for the next five years. And since then, he’s been involved in performance and dramatics, using his gifts and talents however God leads. While earning a bachelors and masters in performance and dramatics, he was blessed with the opportunities to further develop his skills as the Staff Production Director and Playwright. He enjoyed writing numerous plays and directing twenty plays and musicals until 2013 when the Lord led him and his wife to step out on faith and work full time with the Shining Light Players.

Alisha Burke, Assistant Director.

Alisha’s mother, Brenda Wood Coggins, was a gospel singer and pianist who always encouraged Alisha to use her talent for the Lord. She coached Alisha to sing her first church solo at age four. She grew up singing in church and attended Pensacola Christian College where she received bachelors and masters degrees in music and speech performance. She went on to teach music and speech classes at Pensacola Christian for thirteen years, and then studied for four years under acclaimed Metropolitan Opera Tenor, Ray Gibbs. Alisha has been a featured soloist on numerous recordings and television broadcasts with Rejoice Music and has acted in over twenty plays and productions including “I Am The Way” with Jerome Hines.