It’s been a very full week, to say the least beginning with last Saturday evening, May 2 when I was in Ardmore, Oklahoma for the first of two performances of “Testament of a Naked Man” within 24 hours – preaching there on the Sunday morning (at three services) and then hot-footing it down to Sherman, Texas to perform at 3pm.
This was the first time I have done two public performances within such a short space of time. Both seemed to go very well and people were characteristically appreciative. At the Sherman performance I had an odd sensation two or three times where I thought for a fraction of a second that I was repeating myself, but then I realized that I was remembering the night before in Ardmore! This has happened a few times since then during the week, and I think is a phenomenon of performances coming so close together.
After Sherman, I had a day off on Monday and then was at Rockdale on Tuesday, Llano of Wednesday and Austin last night, Thursday. Three nights in a row. I have a day off today (it is delicious!) and will be at Port Isabel tomorrow evening (May 9) way down pretty much as far south in Texas as you can go.
I do enjoy having the dates this close together. It means that each performance is the dress rehearsal for the next one! You might imagine and hope that they get better each time (though there is also the danger of stagnation too, which I am acutely aware of and consciously focus on channeling my energies into not allowing it to become rote…). I don’t know whether they are getting better as I go along or not – they are each one unique and different, not least with variations in the set because of the configuration and size of the various venues – but I am very comfortable with the material (at least in terms of knowing it, the content of some of the Gospel is another matter, and I don’t think we’re ever going to be totally comfortable with it, and nor should we!). I still make minor slips here and there (which really annoys me, but most of the time I don’t think anyone notices); but I notice that with performances coming so close together I usually remember the slips I made in the previous performance(s), so make sure I don’t do it again!
It seems this week that the performances seem to go by quicker (though I am sure they are consistently more or less the same length). Usually, when I get to the story of Jairus’ daughter and the woman with hemorrhages I am surprised that we are almost at the first break – it seems like I have only just started. Then I always consciously focus energy on the second “act,” as I know it would be easy for it to drag. Then when we get to Jesus telling the disciples about whoever wants to be first of all must be last of all and servant of all, I know that we are almost at the end of the second part, and once again I am surprised. I think I enjoy the third section most of all. Certainly that has been the case this week. So much great material – blind Bartimaeus providing a comic moment, then Jesus driving out the money changers from the temple, then the parable of the vineyard and the various disputes with Pharisees & Herodians (!), Sadducees, Scribes etc., then the signs of the end of the age culminating with the admonition to keep awake! (Which I always consciously direct at the audience – especially if they look like they are flagging!). Then comes the Passion, which I am always mindful that I need to summon up all the emotional energy that I have to bring it all back home.
Still don’t know who that naked man is – other than ME of course!