Inaugural Territorial Scriptwriter’s Conference Held in Atlanta
By: Laura Poff
Forty delegates and leaders from across the country gathered Jan. 6-8 at Evangeline Booth College for the first Scriptwriter’s Conference. Organized by Bethany Farrell, territorial creative arts director, the weekend focused on encouraging, equipping and empowering writers to use their gifts for good.
The event was the first step in achieving a list of long-term goals Farrell set when she took on the role last January, which include empowering off-stage artists and encouraging people to stay involved in the arts into adulthood, in the same way that bandsmen remain active and involved in their craft throughout their lives.
“Drama is available for all ages, and we need people of all ages and backgrounds to participate,” Farell said.
Organizers invited officer, employee and Salvationist writers to lead workshops on the process, craft and purpose of writing scripts for the church. In workshops and general sessions, speakers emphasized the importance of covering mature topics and using mature performers in order to elevate drama as a tool to reach adults, rather than limiting it to children’s programs and services. The small delegation and intimate setting fostered a supportive community environment as writers shared their work, discussed uncomfortable topics and encouraged each other to stretch themselves as artists. “Drama and art open doors for conversations in our community,” Farrell said. “Drama disarms us and allows us to see things differently.”
She said she wants dramatic writing to have a more prominent place in worship services and outreach and encouraged writers and performers to use drama to engage in difficult conversations about divorce, death and injustice.
“We want meaningful writing about hard things,” she said. “We’re hungry for something that’s real. Our creative artists are not claiming to know the answers, but they are willing to have those conversations.”
The weekend ending with Sunday worship where delegates prayed over each other and turned those prayers into wordless dramatic improvisations, acting out the prayer and its fulfillment on stage.
“There was an overwhelming sense of this behind a unique, spirit-led time, and we all cherished it,” Farrell said. “I hope they left with a holy burden to user their gifts to have conversations, open doors and build community.”