for the
Family Service
St. Augustine's

2008 May 18

These are notes and comments on some of the items which appear in the Family Service script. Links from the script point to these entries; clicking the links in the left hand column of the table takes you back to the corresponding link in the script - or, where more than one link from the script points to the note, back to the first such link.

The comments are typically related to features of the service which are specific to our church or the time of the service, or which for some other reason we think might require alteration for another setting.

For references to the internal geography of the church, it might be helpful to inspect the plan.

Furniture :
  • Lectern by Hospital wall;
  • Kneeling desk out of the way near the organ.
Properties :
People :
  • Narrator at lectern,
  • Reader at lectern,
  • Computer person at computer,
  • Organist at organ,
  • People to hand out orders of service,
  • People ready to give out music if required,

ADULT AND CHILD In this service there are several short sequences of dialogue between "Adult" and "Child". These are quite independent, and can be given to different performers at different times.

BEHIND BRICKS The bricks happened to be convenient, but aren't necessary for this part of the story.

BEHIND THE CLOUD Depicting Jesus's ascension was a tricky one. The original idea was to have a "cloud" which could be lowered from above to hide Jesus. This was deemed too hard.

The solution adopted was to have a permanent "cloud" of fabric attached to the back of the altar and to the wall higher up ( visible in the picture below ); Jesus walked behind the altar from the right and up a step "into" the cloud. The step gave some impression of rising up, to fit the ascension theme.

BOGIE WITH STRAW A fair-sized pile of straw with provision to move it about. We used a child's bogie which could be pulled with a steering rope.

The straw was the product of mowing ( with a sickle ) a small area of long grass, and letting the result dry. It made a tangled pile about 1m long and half as much in diameter, and was loosely and invisibly tied to the trolley with string. ( This is almost certainly unrealistic - it's more likely that the bricks were made with straw chopped into fragments a few centimetres long - but does look like straw. )

BRICKS Rectangular polystyrene blocks, coloured to look plausibly like bricks. Ours were a fawn colour. They should be of such a size that the bricks carried in one procession to the front are sufficient to construct a recognisable wall.

BURNING BUSH The 'camp fire' is on a stool, with leafy branches arranged round it We used our "camp fire", standing on a low table with green branches arranged around. It worked surprisingly well.

BURNING COALS Our "burning coals" were a collection of "coals" on a brass dish. Each "coal" was a crumpled ball of black paper ( the fuel ) with a projecting "flame" of red and orange transparent paper. It worked well enough, but something more self-luminous might be an improvement.

CHERUBIM Several sources suggest that the creatures in this passage are really Seraphim. Change it if you feel strongly about it.

FLAME CARDS Small ( about 10cm ) red, orange, or yellow cards shaped as flames, with folded sticky tape stuck to the back to make them work as lapel badges.

JESUS HIDES Not part of the action, but in our production, the actor who played Jesus also took the part of a cherub. This is a convenient way of moving Jesus to the front inconspicuously. It is helpful that the cherubim, like Jesus in his next appearance, were dressed in white robes.

KNEELING DESK Part of our church furniture. There's nothing in the reading to suggest what Isaiah was doing in the temple, and it seemed reasonable to assume that he was at prayer or meditation. The kneeling desk seemed to fit in with that theme, and gave Isaiah somwhere specific to go.

SET THE SCENE The imagery in this sketch is somewhat iffy. It is about using the bricks, not making them - which makes the straw rather pointless. In the event, either nobody noticed or nobody cared; the point was made anyway.

SIX WINGS We didn't even try. Our cherubim had two wings each. ( We noticed afterwards that they used their wings three times in the following action; perhaps one could think of that as six wings ? )

SLAVE B One of the slaves, delegated to move the bogie, but otherwise just another slave.

SPOTS LIKE SNOW We didn't try to simulate spots. It would have been visible only to the front couple of rows of people if we had.

STAFF For Moses's staff we used a walking stick. It was a rather elaborate walking stick, with a very appropriate "snake" carved as though coiled round it.

In fact, the elaboration is unnecessary. All the action of the stick takes place on the floor at the front, where very few people can see it.

STEPS An accident of our church  there are three steps between the nave and altar, but they fitted in very well as an additional obstacle to the slaves, and an excuse for complaint from the Overseers.

TONGUES OF FIRE The "tongues of fire" were flame-shaped pieces of crepe paper, about 35cm long. They were released from a fabric "hammock" above the congregation.

The tongues of fire were effective; the method of delivery left something to be desired. The "hammock" was a long and narrow strip of fabric supported by strings from each corner to the sides of the church, with the long sides of the fabric held tightly across the church. The two long sides were held quite close together, so that the fabric formed a gutter into which the "flames" were loaded before the service. The "flames" were released when required by dropping one of the long sides of the fabric.

It worked well, but was very obvious and clearly intended to do something in the service. It also limited the area over which the "flames" were delivered. Something less obtrusive and broader in area would be better, but the "hammock" did work.

TOUCHES ISAIAH'S LIPS Well, that was the idea - but here's what actually happened :

The head cherub is holding the tongs close to Isaiah's open mouth; unfortunately, the glowing coal has dropped out of the tongs and is obviously falling down.

Isaiah recovered magnificently, caught the "coal", and carried on without a pause. Well done, Avril !