Max Mclean, Founder and Artistic Director
There is a common saying that has come remarkably alive for most of us this year: I may not know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.
A year ago, when I was in Houston for a talkback session following a performance of The Great Divorce, news came that the city’s annual rodeo and livestock show was canceled. No one saw this coming. And it brought home to me with new force the seriousness of what we were all about to face.
That rodeo attracts hundreds of thousands of people, one of the city’s largest, if not the largest tourist attractions of the year. At the time, there was one recorded COVID-19 case in the metro area with 7 million people.
It was challenging to look ahead to “see what the future holds.” Fellowship for Performing Arts is a live theatre company with a mission to produce theatre from a Christian worldview meant to engage a diverse audience. Live theatre was shut down across the country.
What were we to do?
I did not imagine then what doors were going to open for us.
Amid the loss of life and the economic loss of the past year, FPA has been able to transition to other platforms and accomplish our mission. I believe in the power of art to inspire, to bear witness to God’s faithfulness, to remind us all of what is really important and what lasts for eternity.
In our most productive year, 75,000 people attended an FPA performance. In the past seven months, over 130,000 people have viewed an online event.
The Most Reluctant Convert features Max McLean as C.S. Lewis looking back on his troubled boyhood (Eddie Ray Martin), to stimulating discussions with friends at Oxford that challenged his atheism (Nicholas Ralph), to his rigorous examination and ultimate acceptance of the Christian faith.
And what lies ahead may be more encouraging than what is behind. Theatres will reopen, probably in the fall, and we will return to producing live theatre from one end of the country to the other.
Not only that, FPA will also be a film company, having used the lockdown to complete a film version of one of our plays, The Most Reluctant Convert, as we shared in previous newsletters. It’s not a video of a live performance, but a full-blown film with a first-rate production team, a 15-member cast, 190 extras and 270 costumes, shot on 20 locations in the United Kingdom. And this was all done during strict COVID restrictions.
God closed a door in March. It got our attention. But as we prayed, as we trusted God, we walked through new doors that will alter FPA for the better. Not a change to FPA’s mission but to our method. Live productions will be supplemented with new platforms, reaching communities where it is not feasible for us to tour. Reaching across borders. (People from 44 countries have seen our work so far.)
The pandemic has tested everyone’s faith, but it has proved the Lord’s faithfulness.
Perhaps a world so shaken will be open to God’s promises and ready to give them a fair hearing on stage, or online, or on screen.
Throughout this past year, FPA’s Fellowship Circle has been an amazing support to us as God opened up these new opportunities. I thank you for it. It is my belief that our most productive days lie ahead. And I know Who will be there with us.
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