Belief Encounters is a collection of six New Testament-inspired monologues providing examples of creative preaching, resources for contemporary worship and ideas for developing preaching styles. It also includes a creative story-telling workshop, and can be purchased with a full set of scripts. The six monologues are based on several stories from the Bible, including Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, the healing of the leper and the feeding of the five thousand. The DVD can be used as part of a church service or in prayer and Bible groups as study resource, in schools as part of Religious Education or Theology lessons or by church leaders and trainee church leaders to help develop creative preaching styles. The video below is an introduction to Belief Encounters. To watch clips from the DVD and meet the Biblical characters please take a look at the Belief Encounters trailer.

A collection of ‘talking head’ presentations inspired by characters from the New Testament

Belief Encounters offers ways in which two-dimensional stories on a page, can be translated into three-dimensional drama for a stage. Adding that ‘extra dimension’ can have a significant effect as people relate to the characters sharing their deepest thoughts.

In these characters you will find the profound, the confused, the elated, the disturbed, the transformed – indeed, a wide range of real human emotions which identify reactions to real encounters with Jesus Christ.

Whether as a discussion group starter or as an item in contemporary-style worship or maybe woven into a regular preaching slot, Belief Encounters offers church leaders a new resource. It may also prompt some within churches to write and present their own Belief Encounters stories, and the inclusion of workshop material for creative story-telling, offers a guide to help get such projects off the ground.

Brian Pearson has worked as a freelance broadcaster, writing and presenting material for regional TV and providing commentary on national TV. He has appeared on national, regional and local radio stations. Belief Encounters has been performed in churches across The Midlands. It features in the programme of events for the 2007 Somerton Arts Festival prior to a short tour of South West England. You can buy a copy from our online store.

On the DVD:

Introduction (2’30”)
More Than Skin Deep – a leper returns (10’15”)
An After Dinner Speech – Simon the Pharisee reflects (8’30”)
Fish Supper – a view from one in five thousand (8’14”)
Young In-Sight – an enlightened youth recalls (11’00”)
Betrayed – Judas anticipates (7’00”)
Old John, Young John – one man speaks from two ages (13’15”)
Workshop – creating a drama from a story (12’00”)

Belief Encounters performed live providing an entertaining and informative evening

Belief Encounters can ‘go live’ in your church, school, theatre, village or town. The performance in its entirety (lasting approx two hours including an interval) was warmly received when featured as part of the 2007 Somerton Arts Festival. Plans to tour the south and south-west are on-going but one-off performances can be arranged in churches, schools and theatres around the UK through Wild Duck Productions.

Individual monologues from Belief Encounters can be performed on their own in place of an after dinner speech (for instance the monologue ‘An After Dinner Speech’ would fit in very well) or as part of a larger stage show or performance evening. Brian Pearson can also provide workshops and training in creative preaching, Christian performance and drama.

Belief Encounters Live is the on-stage version of the ‘talking heads’ dramatic monologues featured on the Belief Encounters DVD. Between the monologues short videos are shown featuring images from the Holy Land. These sequences have been created especially for the show by Wild Duck Productions. The beautiful, flowing images – used by kind permission of BibleWalks.com – are captioned with related scripture references and set to music. The videos are available for you to watch below.

Booking Belief Encounter’s Live is the first step to providing an entertaining and informative evening. It is ideally suited for an all-age church activity, a special ‘Churches Together’ or Deanery occasion or as part of a bigger Christian or community festival. Wild Duck Productions specialise in organising and managing special church events, providing all sound, lighting and stage equipment as required. Please contact Wild Duck Productions to discuss a Belief Encounters Live presentation or other events. We look forward to hearing from you and serving you soon.

You can watch the videos of images from the Holy Land by clicking play on each window below. Each video may take a few moments to load. Please make sure your speakers are turned on.

A collection of ‘talking head’ presentations inspired by characters from the New Testament

Unsurprisingly, text from the Bible was the primary source of inspiration for this material but from the outset the primary aim was to allow the ‘two-dimensional’ characters on the printed page to take on a three-dimensional form, on a stage. But for visions to become solid ideas, and for those ideas to become viable projects, there are many steps and, probably, as many stumbles! On the way to the making of ‘Belief Encounters’ many people have supported and contributed to the project but three in particular, unwittingly, provided significant help.

The first was Alan Bennett whose work I have always enjoyed. As a playwright, presenter and person he has always grasped and held my attention. Seeking – I might even say, daring – to adapt his style, which so often gives a voice to ‘the supporting cast’ in life, I wanted to provide a platform to hear more from the perspective of some of the less prominent biblical characters.

Then there was Dr Jim Fleming, a Biblical Archaeologist. An American whose work in the Holy Land, stretching over thirty years, has been so highly respected that he has been a visiting lecturer at the renowned Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His work identifies the land of the Bible as ‘the fifth gospel’, insisting that, without immersing ourselves in that land – that is, its people, their ways and customs – we can never fully grasp what the Bible is saying and why it is saying it.

I was stirred by recollections of working with Peter English. Peter wrote and performed material, much of which he prepared for street theatre. To see him in action was inspirational, not only for the clever and engaging content but for his boldness and sheer nerve. A big man with a big heart and an enormous talent, seeing him I dared to wonder whether one day I, too, might step out and give a fresh voice to familiar words.

So ‘Belief Encounters’ began to emerge. For some pieces almost the entire first draft flowed in one go. For others it started with but a phrase or sentence and gradually – sometimes painfully slowly – grew. Once the early results had been ‘test driven’ in front of a number of church congregations, the shape of the final presentation emerged and the collection was performed and filmed before a live audience in Kenilworth, Warwickshire.

I trust the outcome is entertaining, interesting and informative. And while my intention is certainly not to preach or teach, nor anything else so worthy, I hope this material brings people a little closer to those who themselves were very close to Jesus – perhaps even close enough to see and hear Him rather more as they saw and heard Him.

Brian Pearson

Brian Pearson, a Fellow of the College of Preachers since 1996, was ordained as an Anglican Priest in 1979, ministering in parishes in SE London, West Sussex, Somerset, Kent and Warwickshire. He was a Missioner in two dioceses and as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Officer for Mission and Evangelism, led seminars, addressed clergy gatherings and preached in many parts of the UK as well as in the USA, Australia and Canada.

Brian has worked as a freelance broadcaster, writing and presenting material for regional TV in SW England, providing commentary for national TV and appearing on radio. He contributed the chapter on ‘Creative Preaching’ in the College of Preachers publication ‘A Preacher’s Companion’ and has led many workshops, particularly on ‘Preaching in a Contemporary Culture’. He is a Regional Tutor for the College of Preacher’s MTh Course.

We gratefully acknowledge the valued assistance provided by the minister, Rev Andy Laird, and members of Kenilworth Methodist Church in the making of this DVD.

The Making Of

8th April 2006 saw Wild Duck Productions shooting multi-camera at a church in Kenilworth, Warwickshire for a programme comprising of a series of sketches, performed by Rev Canon Brian Pearson, taking well known stories from the Bible but presenting them from a unique point of view.

On the morning of the 8th the crew of 13 began arriving from 06:30 to unload the large amount of equipment from the vehicles.

The set up included over 5000 watts of light, 4 cameras (plus one other which was used to document the day), a live gallery with digital mixer, 2x 21″ autocue screens and a PAG orbitor (a steadie-cam like device), 6 microphones and 12 talkback headsets and beltpacks.

The live footage from each of the cameras was fed directly to a gallery set up on one side of the room. From here the director, Tom Pearson, could see and therefore direct the cameras and mix their feed live using a digital mixer. The output from the mixer was then fed into the state-of-the-art editing PC to be captured and catalogued live by Davina Hughes and saved on to one of three massive hard drives.

At around 08:00 Alex East, the Head Cameraman, met with the other camera operators to ensure that all the settings and functions on the Sony PD170P camera were fully in place.

At 08:45 the crew got together for a production meeting in which they discussed the finer points of the day’s shoot ahead.

On the cameras would be Eddie Hughes, up in the balcony, Bobby Cliff, stage right, Daniel ‘Taylor’ Chesterton, stage left and Alex East on the Steadi-Cam assisted by Nick Pearson, Joe Burke and Matt Nolan.

Rachel Hughes would be operating the autocue and working alongside Althea Pearson, the Script Supervisor.

As well as assisting Alex, Matt was filming for the ‘Behind the Scenes’ extra on the DVD and Joe was taking high quality digital photos of the day for use on the website and in publicity for the programme. Nick would white balance and use the clapper board when not needed at the start of a scene. When he couldn’t be spared Daniel Goodby, Joe or Matt would do it.

Tom would direct the action and mix the feeds from the gallery while Davina captured and catalogued the mixed feed as it was streamed to the computer.

Tom’s right hand man would be Daniel Goodby, the Floor Manager. He would be in charge of all that went on within the studio area before, during and after filming, enabling Tom to stay in front of the gallery monitors. Daniel would also be in charge of cueing Brian and calling cut at the end of a take. Once the audience arrived Daniel would explain the filming to them and how the afternoon would pan out. He would also talk to the audience between takes, explaining what was going on where necessary and keeping them relaxed, as well as being in charge of Brian’s props.

All the crew would be able to talk to each other using the talkback headsets and beltpacks they were all wearing. This meant that Tom could whisper instructions throughout a take to the cameras and instruct cameras which weren’t being used in the live mix at that moment for repositioning.

At 10:00 camera blocking began, a process during which the cameras run through their main positions and, directed from the gallery by Tom, making sure that they knew which shots would work best.

Once the blocking was completed a full rehearsal began; Brian performed the scripts while the cameras tracked the action, while Tom and Davina watched from the gallery.

At midday it was time for a much needed lunch; Production Assistant Robin Stangroom had taken people’s orders earlier in the day and had been out to the local bakery and supermarket. The crew spent a few minutes eating but were quickly back in the studio area working away, setting up, many still with a sandwich or cake in hand!

Brian began another rehearsal at around 12:30 but there was a problem. Davina, over in the gallery, could hear the feed from his radio microphone and the audio kept dropping out. Brian would be talking and there’d be a click and the sound would disappear and a moment later there’d be another click and the sound would appear again. After a quick check of connections and batteries it was discovered that the battery in the radio microphone that Brian was wearing was running very low. The odd thing was that it had only been replaced with a brand new one just minutes before. Another brand new battery was put in and the rehearsal continued. Moments later Davina heard another click and the sound dropped out. The battery in the radio microphone was the culprit again. The batch of AA batteries we had were obviously not up to standard. Joe offered to run out to the local supermarket to pick some more up. When he got back, a few minutes later, anything with the old batch of batteries in had them replaced with the new. This did the trick. No batteries had to be replaced for the rest of the day!

At 13:00 Althea and Rachel began laying out A6 flyers on the audience’s chairs. The flyers told when the programme would be available and how copies could be ordered as well as explaining that by attending the recording they were agreeing to terms expressed in the release form on the reverse.

Brian headed into a side room to get changed into his first costume and crew took their positions. It was 14:00 and the audience were arriving. Daniel began his meet and greet and once everyone was sat down he commenced the all too familiar announcements regarding mobiles, pagers, watches, fire exits and toilet breaks.

At around 14:30 filming began and was going well until the computer which was capturing the live feed stopped communicating with the mixer. This meant that final output, the mixed edit, was no longer being recorded. The crew was now relying on the cameras alone to record onto their tapes. If things were to continue like this, when they got to post production they’d have to capture each camera individually into the computer and then edit between them. This could double or triple the post production time.

Tom explained the problem to the crew over talkback and Daniel called cut. He then explained the problem first to Brian and then to the audience, and assured them that Tom and Davina were doing all they could to rectify the problem.

After a short break normality was restored. The computer started capturing again and the shoot continued.

At 15:30 the audience had a refreshment break and half an hour later filming resumed.

At 17:30 the shoot wrapped. The audience headed home, but before the crew could begin the long de-rig the introductions to the monologues had to be filmed.

It wasn’t until 20:30 that the last remnants of the crew finally left for the day, tired, exhausted in fact, but very pleased with how the shoot had gone overall.

On the DVD:

Introduction (2’30”)
More Than Skin Deep – a leper returns (10’15”)
An After Dinner Speech – Simon the Pharisee reflects (8’30”)
Fish Supper – a view from one in five thousand (8’14”)
Young In-Sight – an enlightened youth recalls (11’00”)
Betrayed – Judas anticipates (7’00”)
Old John, Young John – one man speaks from two ages (13’15”)
Workshop – creating a drama from a story (12’00”)

Wild Duck Productions, Commerce House, 2 Victoria Way, Pride Park, Derby, DE24 8AN Click here to visit the main Wild Duck Productions website

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