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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)

TITLE: Alone In The Spotlight
By Jan Ackerson


The auditorium is shrouded in silence; the stage is empty save for a single spotlight.

The actress—we will call her Alone—waits in the wings until the precise moment when the audience commences a restless stirring. Then she walks into the spotlight, carrying a large wooden block. It is almost too heavy for her to bear.

She drops the block at the edge of the light, then turns to face the audience. From her pocket she produces a pot of stage makeup, and she applies to one cheek a large, glistening tear. After closing the little makeup pot, Alone walks offstage—there is a long pause—then she returns with another large block.

This block is placed heavily beside the first. Many times Alone leaves and returns, and it becomes apparent that she is building a four-sided wall which will soon entirely enclose her.

Now and then other actors enter, also carrying heavy blocks; these they add to Alone’s structure. When the wall finally surrounds her at left, right and behind, she stands inside, facing the audience with wide eyes. The others complete the wall, which is nearly five feet tall. Alone’s forehead and nose are just visible above the blocks.

The wall-builders leave the stage.

After several seconds, the audience begins to squirm—was that all? Is it over? Alone jumps up once, twice, three times. It seems that she is feebly attempting a hopeless effort to escape. A few moments more, and her hands can be seen scrabbling at the top of the wall. She attempts to dislodge a block, to no avail.

Silence…silence. Alone is still.

An actor enters; his name is Preacher. There is a large and ornate cross dangling at his neck, and he carries a hefty Bible. Alone turns her head to watch as he approaches, then passes, her wall. He strolls by her and steps out of the light, becoming invisible for a short time.

Alone strains to see him over the wall, then faces front again. With one white-tipped finger, she paints another tear.

A pause, and Preacher re-enters the light. Curiously, he tests the side of the wall with his shoulder; it is sturdy. He straightens up and sees that Alone is watching him.

Preacher strides offstage and returns with a wooden box. Setting his box directly in front of the wall, he takes out a pot of red greasepaint and gives himself a large, clownish smile. Then he steps onto the box, facing the audience, and holds his Bible aloft in one hand.

Soundlessly, he begins to preach, with large and exaggerated gestures. His back is always, always to Alone.

Occasionally the audience can see Alone craning her head for a better look at Preacher, who continues to grandly gesticulate.

After several minutes of impressive pantomime, Preacher closes his Bible with a satisfied snap and turns to Alone. With a gracious, sweeping gesture, he indicates that he is leaving—would she like to follow? Alone tests her wall—still strong—and sadly shakes her head. Preacher shrugs and walks out of the light.

A silent minute passes.

A second actress approaches, carrying a canvas bag on which is painted a crimson heart. This is what we shall call her, then—Heart. She slows as she nears the wall, and she walks all around it, her fingertips dragging on its surface. When she has circled the entire wall, she stops and waggles her fingers at Alone.

Alone looks all around—did she wave at me? A few fingers appear above the wall, a bashful greeting.

Heart sits on the box left behind by Preacher, and from inside her bag she produces a soft white cloth. Now standing on the box, she reaches into Alone’s wall and wipes away her painted tears. With a smile and a light touch on Alone’s cheek, Heart shares with her a simple meal drawn from the canvas bag: bread and fruit, a bottle of water.

Finally, Heart reaches into her bag and brings up a mallet, and then another. She looks to Alone for a go-ahead; receiving a nod, she knocks the topmost block from one side of the wall. A few more swings, a few more toppled blocks, and Heart gives the second mallet to Alone.

Together they demolish the wall.

As they walk away, Heart removes her zippered sweater and drapes it on No-Longer-Alone’s shoulders. The audience can now see, on the back of Heart’s shirt, the outline of a Dove.

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This article has been read 1438 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Leigh MacKelvey02/29/08
What way to nail the topic!
Simply written, with stage directions and everything ... to give us a drama of the topic. This was so creative and I, for one, would never have thought of the unique idea! The title ... PERFECT and meaningful.
Lynda Schultz 02/29/08
Kudos—this is superb.
Glynis Becker03/01/08
Oh wow. This is right on and so poignant. What an illustration!
LauraLee Shaw03/02/08
My goodness, this is brilliant. I could picture the whole scene, and I was moved to tears. Masterful. Anointed.
Tim Pickl03/02/08
WOW! I would love to see this acted out... very convincing and convicting.
Seema Bagai 03/02/08
Excellent story. I could picture it clearly.
Pat Guy 03/03/08
Still one of my fav.s Jan. I hope David Ian picks it up and goes with it. His 'Muse' sent him over so I hope he listens. ;)

I think this should be a drama skit in every church. (don't think the pastors would appreciate it but ... if the shoe fits ... ) ;)
Hanne Moon 03/03/08
No Jan, you didn't blow it! This is so unique! I love the mental images you create with this. A wonderful picture of walking our talk.
George Parler 03/03/08
Never have I read anything so vivid. Your descriptions had me sitting on the front row on the edge of my seat.

Wonderful job!
Patty Wysong03/03/08
The tone was perfectly matched to the story--I could feel the silence and the stark aloneness and despair of Alone. Super!!
Chely Roach03/03/08
This was incredible...I absolutely loved it!
Laury Hubrich 03/03/08
This is beautiful! Sometimes I feel like this actress:) and then I have many "Hearts" who come break down my walls for me. You've struck a chord today in me, my dear friend.
Marita Thelander 03/03/08
My name has been Alone before. Very well written. Grabs at the heart strings.
Catrina Bradley 03/03/08
I read this earlier, but couldn't think of words to describe how it made me feel. It's so stark and simple, but deep with meaning and emotion. Wonderful writing from a talented mind.
Mariane Holbrook 03/03/08
I'm speechless. Just totally speechless. I was so immersed in the drama of this that I don't know, don't care if there were any places where it needed polishing up. What I wouldn't give to see this performed! You have such a gift but I fear you don't begin to realize how great it is.
Betty Castleberry03/03/08
Great imagery. I could see everything, and felt as if I was there. Two thumbs up!
Karen Wilber03/03/08
Brilliant concept. I had a little trouble at first figuring out whether this was a story or stage directions for a drama. Then I 'got' that it was a drama.

This would be very powerful set to the right music playing in the background.
[My college group did an almost wordless drama of the story of the woman caught in adultery with "You are so Beautiful" sung by Joe Cocker playing in the background. It was heart-stopping-even changed the meaning of that song for me.]

Hmmm. I'll be thinking about this one for awhile. Does Preacher need the 'clownish smile'? Or does that put him 'over the top' and not possibly apply to me. ;-)

Karen Wilber03/03/08
I'm back because I think this is excellent and I want to clarify my comment. I see that people identify with "Alone" and with "Heart". I think what would take this up a notch is to make us squirm a bit to identify with "Preacher" too. That's why I question the clown smile. But I can also identify this as 'me' painting on a smile and not being real. It would depend on how the actor played it, and the director directed it. I like a drama that has a little squirm along with the feel good.

Just a thought--as I sit here acting this out in front of my computer.
Rita Garcia03/03/08
Heartfelt and wonderfully written! Applause!
Debbie Wistrom03/04/08
NO you didn't blow this at all. My only red ink would be to not use "pantomime", just let us get it on our own, which is so easy becasue you did all this soooo well. This needs to be produced. I would love to see it, especially if I didn't know it. I could "hear" the silence. I will stop now, but there is so much I want to say, but feel unworthy. THANKS!!
Joanne Sher 03/04/08
Brilliant, Jan. I could absolutely picture this so vividly. Moving.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/04/08
Just fantastic. I could see it all unfold in its beauty before me. It would be so easy to use as a drama for teens or to introduce a sermon--so very many places this powerfully simple drama would fit.
Lyn Churchyard03/05/08
This was utterly brilliant! What a great play to do for church or youth group. Jan you never cease to amaze me!!
Loren T. Lowery03/05/08
To me, this was written in the style of say Satre or Samuel Bennet ("Waiting for Godot") though not existinonal, certainly deep and thought provoking. Which, in my humble opinion, makes this so special.
Joshua Janoski03/05/08
A totally unique approach to this week's topic. I agree with everyone else - I want to see this acted out on a stage.
Mandy White03/05/08
Brilliant drama!
Sara Harricharan 03/05/08
Brought tears to my eyes. I really liked this. I could sympathize with Alone and I was glad that Heart came to help...and befriend her. Awesome writing. ^_^
Peter Stone03/05/08
Such a beautiful way to show the Holy Spirit setting someone free from a prison they've built for themselves. Awesome!
Joanney Uthe03/06/08
I love the title. Wonderful illustration of the topic. Very convicting on how we present the gospel to hurting people.
Sara Harricharan 03/06/08
***Congratulations, Aunt Jan!*** Awesome writing! ^_^
Sheri Gordon03/06/08
Congratulations on your EC, Jan. As always, masterful writing, and very creative. Outstanding illustration of the topic.
Benjamin Graber03/06/08
I love it! Another excellent work of art from your pen, Jan!