As many students already know, Northwestern is frequently booming with opportunities. Regardless of major, department or interests, there is something for everyone to be involved in. This lengthy list of possibilities is home to one of the theatre department’s most beloved groups – Drama Ministries Ensemble. Currently, this group of students is being directed by Molly Wiebe Faber and consists of six students, all varying in majors. Together, this band of actors craft shows using verbatim scripture and perform in schools and churches within the area as well as some travelling gigs.
A semester with DME is marked with Black Box theatre shenanigans, piling in the 15-passenger van and sharing the gospel with all ages. Freshman theatre major Jessica Schulmeister notes that her favorite part of DME has been “the development of a Christ-centered ensemble.” To most of the members, it truly feels like another family.
Presently, DME is preparing a full-length production, titled “The Passion.” This play follows the life of Jesus, beginning with His baptism and ending with His crucifixion. All DME students would agree that this show is something different in many ways. For one, the dialogue is unique, following more of a Shakespearean style rather than modern text. Additionally, as this play is ordinarily produced with a cast of nearly 30, director Wiebe Faber had to get quite creative with the casting. Consequently, each student portrays upwards of four characters throughout the course of the play.
Regardless of challenges this group has faced with “The Passion”, they are all thrilled to watch it take the stage. Freshman public relations major Hope Wallace is particularly a fan of the scenes in which she portrays Jesus, saying, “My favorite is the role of Jesus in the last supper scene because He’s just chopping it up with His disciples and I think it’s a fun way to portray Jesus’s humanness.” This is exactly the heart of what DME is getting at – a way to interpret Jesus and His life visually. Wallace said it well, “My hope is that it will reach the people who might not otherwise get the chance to hear the gospel.”
Sophomore public relations major Kaylee Bandstra shares the same love for the message of “The Passion,” but takes a different perspective on who her favored character is. “My favorite character to portray is Mother Mary,” Bandstra said. “It is intriguing to portray all the different emotions that the real Mary could have been feeling during Jesus’s crucifixion.”
For DME members, one of the most gratifying outcomes of participating in these plays is gaining a different perspective on the characters that most of us have known all our lives. There is something beautiful in these people that some would argue can only be attained by attempting to step in their shoes. Junior theatre major Talea Errington said something similar, “Doing ‘The Passion’ has been a neat experience, especially getting to play Jesus. Developing that character specifically has helped me grow in my walk with God as I learn a little bit more about the depths of His love for us.”
At its core, DME is a group passionate about Jesus, theatre, and spreading the gospel through performing arts with minimalistic costumes and set and the belief that Jesus is the mouthpiece of everything that they do. “The Passion” is one of the ensembles more somber productions, but there are still specks of humor and lighthearted interactions on stage. Overall, audiences may be entertained but will most definitely see Jesus. DME’s next performance of “The Passion” will be on March 19 in the Black Box Theatre at 2 p.m.