5 Tips for Presenting Born for This

Born for this is a powerful presentation of the Stations of the Cross in word, music and drama. Over the past 20 years, our team of narrators, singers, musicians and even dancers have shared Born for This in every possible setting.

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We’ve presented Born for This as part of Parish missions, with just 2 readers, 2 musicians and slides of the Stations of the Cross. We’ve presented in a girls’ school with an all-female cast, and only half a day’s rehearsal.  At the other end of the spectrum, we’ve presented with an ensemble of more that 20 musicians, 6 narrators and a 60-voice chorus in the spectacular setting of Westminster Cathedral.

We are touched to see more and more schools, groups and parishes across the UK and beyond, presenting Born for This and making it their own. We truly hope that legacy will continue.

If you are just beginning your Born for This journey, here are our 5 top tips to point you in the right direction:

1. Start Simply

Our Born for This presentations weren’t always the all-singing, all-dancing productions that we have delivered in recent years. The very first presentation was part of the Soli House Easter Retreat. The Soli team created a focal point or tableaux for each Station in different locations around the house. Retreat participants read the reflections, and Jo Boyce played all the songs on a single guitar.

If you don’t have the resources for a full scale production (yet…), a CD player, slides of the Stations of the Cross and 2 readers are all you really need to get started. Once you’ve made a start, you open up the possibility to iterate and expand. You have to be in motion (however slow and tentative the beginnings) in order to gain momentum.

2. Don’t Let it Be A One-off

There is a saying that ‘repetition is the mother of skill’. It’s our repeated presentations of Born for This year after year that made our 20th Anniversary production at St Chad’s Cathedral the breath-taking experience that it was. Humble beginnings at Soli House led to our first presentations in schools and later churches.

Each year we invited previous cast and chorus members back, and invited new ones to join. As the cast grew and matured they brought new skills to the table. We’d add a new element – perhaps a dance or a new way of depicting a scene.

Repeatedly living the story of Jesus’ Passion from the inside has spiritual benefits too. Just like the cycle of the liturgical year, it takes us deeper into the Paschal Mystery with each turn.

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3. Avoid Biblical Period Costumes

There’s something very distracting about loin cloths, unconvincing Roman armour, spears and sandals. Period costumes also subconsciously lead the audience to view the Passion as an interesting phenomenon of history, rather than a once and for all time reality of our salvation.

Neutral, modern dress (usually all black), allows everyone to enter the story at a different level. We are encouraged to see aspects of ourselves in each character as they emerge out of an almost faceless mob, to play their part before melting into the crowd once more. It makes for a much more profound encounter with the message of the Cross.

4. Make it Collaborative

Our entire ministry is born out of a spirit of collaboration. Collaboration is the catalyst of synergy… In a school context, the most fruitful and lasting outcomes will be achieved when Chaplaincy and RE, Music and Drama and other specialists share their vision and skills. When older students with Born for This experience from previous years, work along side younger students, and even staff.

In a parish, anyone on the rota as a reader/lector can be invited to be a narrator. Singers and musicians from different Mass times or Mass centres could be encouraged to come together to form the chorus and band. Better yet, why not collaborate across a cluster or deanery of parishes and schools?

Sometimes we just have to lay down our egos, pool our resources, stop making excuses and get on with the work of the Kingdom.

“For as in one body we have many members,and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…” {Romans 12:4-6}

5. Take Heart & Have Courage

If this is your first time attempting something like this, the prospect may be a little daunting. Someone will probably tell you that it can’t be done: Maybe the voice in your own head. Maybe a jaded, traditional priest or teacher. Maybe the leader of that ‘other music group‘ who always refuses to collaborate. Do it any way.

Don’t wait for conditions to be perfect – they never will be. Sometimes the resources needed to make it happen only come after the commitment is made. The decision to do it often needs to be made in spite of the fact that the way ahead is unclear.

So decide now. And as the angel whispered to Mary at the Annunciation – “Do not be afraidfor nothing is impossible with God“.

If you need extra support to make your production a reality, click here to REGISTER NOW for the Born for This Online Workshop & Presentation Guide.

Are you a Born for this pioneer? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below…