15 students. 3 rehearsals. 16 chapters in 90 minutes.
Students have been performing The Mark Drama for more than ten years. From Brazil to Belgium, from Chile to Latvia, the impact of The Mark Drama has been tremendous.
The concept is simple. 15 students without props, costumes, training or microphones, acting out the gospel of Mark. They memorise the sequence of the events of Jesus’ life, and then improvise the lines. They rehearse. They invite their friends to come. And then they let God’s Word do the rest.
The first performance of The Mark Drama took place in 2004 in Austria. It’s since been performed by Christian student groups around the globe, as students have passed on the vision to others. Groups with more experience have helped out those putting it on for the first time.
The Mark Drama leaves a lasting impression on the actors as well as the audience. The gospel story comes to life for them in a fresh way. Students from across the world who’ve recently been involved in The Mark Drama performances shared their reflections.
Kathi, special needs education student; actor (Pharisee)
Every week I met with one of my fellow actors to talk through the chapters and to learn the most important titles of each chapter by heart. And that was really one of the main things in experiencing the drama: studying the structure of God’s word to be able to remember it during the drama. Weeks after the performance I still pictured certain scenes when a person talked about any passage from Mark or what Jesus did when he walked on this earth. Suddenly the book is not just a story but you remember your own experience with it.
I would not want to miss this experience and I would do it again, for there is still more to learn.
Raul, engineering student; director
Having the opportunity to direct is special because you get to enjoy every detail of what the actors are learning and you see it transforming them. It was beautiful to see students coming from different parts of the country to form one group of actors. For some it was their first time to get involved in a GEU project. Putting on The Mark Drama was instrumental in reviving student work in this region and encouraging students to do mission. It was performed to a room full of students. Many were interested to know more about the movement. Each person there had the opportunity to see Jesus’ miracles, to navigate through rough waters, to experience the multiplication of bread and fish. Every word of Mark came to life!
Seth, mechanical engineering student; actor (Jesus)
The “Crucify Him” scene — how can I even describe it? Being in the midst of friends and classmates — people I’d spent the last two years of my life with — screaming for my death; and then knowing that if anyone deserved to be in the position Jesus was in, it was me. The only reason I don’t have to stand there in real life is because the God of the universe, who made the moon and stars, decided that he himself would stand in for me. Even now several months later I can’t talk about this without breaking down in tears of gratitude.
Débora, international relations student; actor
When I decided to participate, I had no idea what was really waiting for me. It’s amazing how each moment had something special. I already knew the gospel of Mark but was surprised by how much I learned through this experience.
We ended up doing the second performance in a college, well-known for its aversion to the gospel. Then on the same day there was news of a planned attack in the building. It was unrelated to us, but even so, we weren’t sure whether to cancel the event or not. Our emotions intensified a thousand times! But we prayed and decided to move ahead. At the start of the performance there were only about 20 people in the audience. But by the end there were about 60 — many more people than we had expected, to the point that the chairs were not enough! We could hardly believe what God had done there. Many of them were touched and came to thank us for the presentation, speaking of the impact it had had on their lives.
Sam, 1st year master’s student in teaching; actor (Jesus)
I’d acted in amateur theatre before, but at the end of a production I’d always had these useless lines in my head. It was so much better to finish a production and have Jesus’ words memorised! It’s been super helpful in Bible studies, conversations about Jesus, evangelism and my personal walk with Christ to know Mark’s Gospel so well. Playing the role of Jesus made me think much more about the words that I’d read so many times before — it forced me to think about what he really meant, and how he might have said them. It also gave me a greater appreciation of what Jesus went through — as he taught and lived with his disciples who took so long to understand (just like us!), as he was constantly challenged by the religious leaders of the day and how he struggled with knowing he would die and take on God’s wrath, and yet he still ultimately submitted to his Father’s will. Acting in The Mark Drama has left me with a greater understanding of who Jesus is, and what he has done for me.
God continues to use The Mark Drama both to strengthen Christian students around the world and to draw unbelievers to know him more. If you ever have the chance to watch it — or even better, to be in it — take it! It comes highly recommended by these students and plenty more who’ve been involved over the years.
If you’re interested in putting on The Mark Drama yourself then visit The Mark Drama website to find out more.
Pray with us:
IFES sends out a short weekly email with stories from students and staff around the world to inspire your prayers.
Join us at: ifes.world/pray