Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A DIY Murder Mystery

The Girls Brigade national conference had a great evening with our Murder Mystery Dinner on Saturday night. Bev and I had a ball, as did 112 others from around the country.
But the night before, at Mahurangi East Community Church they did the show by themselves. This wasthe first time in 14 events it was not managed by me personally but Ferelyth Roffey reports that it went very well. “We had no power cuts but we did set off the smoke detector which blared out before the main course and added to the enjoyment of the evening.”
She said that the diners listened to the personal statements in absolute silence, eyes riveted to the speaker so as not to miss a word. The script was excellent. As the suspects moved around the tables the volume of conversational/questioning rose exponentially. All reports indicate a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Ferelyth says they chose their suspects, “on the basis of who was keen and who was available” not on the basis of acting ability. “The script is robust. A little hesitation and the odd bumble in reading probably added authenticity to their statements.” She felt that any group could give it a go. Her full report from Snell's Beach is here.
Ask me for the CD and your group is in business.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Girls’ Brigade NZ at Conference

I haven’t had much to do with Girls’ Brigade for most of my ministry so it’s going to be really interesting to be at their national conference on Saturday -- not that I’ll be doing much to lift up the standard of study or work for the organisation. Nor will any contribution of mine elevate their moral or ethical standards which I am sure are at the heart of their great movement.

Bev and I are going down to Hamilton to stage our Murder Mystery at their big dinner. Most of the cast will be female, of course, though at least the “Bishop” – Methodist Minister Gloria Zanders – has agreed that she will cross-dress on this occasion. I’m told that the two of us will compete for star status with Father Christmas. Oh, what a night it’ll be!

Since their foundation in 1893, Girls Brigade has become well known as a fun, interesting, challenging and relevant provider of activities, skills, care and Christian love for hundreds of thousands of young people. I hope our brief contribution to their conference will be seen as a kind of Thank You from the rest of us in the community.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Focus on Paihia

On Wednesday evening the Paihia community gave enthusiastic support to a suggested programme to define a common vision for the town.
I can’t think of any time over the last couple of decades when more people met in one place to share their concerns and hopes for the town. There were 120 seats available but some people stood in both the plenary and group sessions during the two hours. It was very gratifying for the half dozen enthusiasts who called the meeting and suggested the programme.
Individuals listed their own ideas about what they liked, disliked or hated about Paihia and these were stuck up for everyone to read. They’ll also be transcribed and placed on the website in the next few days. Groups of about ten or so people then listed what they felt Paihia would look or feel like if they should arrive in the town in 2029.
It was hard for the groups to separate “look” and “feel” from concrete issues like “better street lights” but gradually the concept of a vision for the Paihia of the future came through. Groups reported very briefly but their full written reports are already on the website. Their comments reflect growing awareness of the link between tourists’ and residents’ needs, and a developing understanding that “business” and “residents” are not in competition with each other but can work together for a better Paihia.
In a brief final session there was no difficulty finding volunteers to attend a meeting to establish a working group to put the programme together. Another community consultation will be held July 14th.
The first meeting of half a dozen Focus Groups will be held that night and they will plan their work for the coming weeks. Each will work at its own theme and the working group will coordinate discussions and assist with the development of the Vision. It is expected that this will be complete by the end of November.
Those of us who took the initiative in calling this group are convinced the time is right, the economic climate demands some serious thinking and the political climate is more sympathetic than at many times in the past. The growing maturity of the community is becoming evident and there’s a will to work together to produce a significant result.
Great stuff!

Visit "Focus on Paihia" on http://www.paihianz.co.nz/ and add your comments

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rioteous humour

My birthday present for this year was two tickets to the play The Day they Kidnapped the Pope, staged at Theatre Pitt by Pilgrim Players.
It was an absolutely marvellous romp. The large and talented cast threw themselves into the story with enthusiasm and conviction and just the right blend of tongue-in-cheek slapstick and theological insight. The audience didn’t have to make any special effort to show their appreciation of religious jokes; they roared with laughter as the Jewish cab-driver held the Pope in his pantry for a ransom by which nobody in the world would be killed during a 24 hour period. Interfaith chess games and exploding bombs in the front yard added to the riotous spectacle.
The play ended with a successful 24 hours of total world peace; the Pope declared he’d just been taking a couple of day’s vacation with friends; the SWAT team was stood down. Our sides were aching from laughter. But, at the end, the world went back to killing people all over the place. Was nothing changed?
Well, personally, we could have been at a church meeting somewhere else. It wouldn’t have been as much fun and probably wouldn’t have considered world peace as even a remote possibility. For a couple of hours we were transported out of our everyday existence and into a madcap world of dedicated imagination and delicious humour. We were made to laugh; we were made to think.
Maybe church should be more like that.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lights killed at mystery dinner

Last night, eighty of us were packed around tables at St Chad’s Anglican-Methodist Church, Huapai, for our Murder Mystery Dinner “Death by Cooperation”. The Bishop opened the meeting, the sudden death was discovered and, as the Detective Chief Inspector, I was woken up and commissioned to lead the table groups in solving the mystery.
As the soup was about to be served the lights went out. Many people thought it was part of the show. But after a few minutes of local men stumbling around in the dark to see what fuses had blown, it became apparent we had a serious problem. The power had failed at the pole fuse in the street. Nothing could be done because nobody present knew who the power supplier was.
However, within minutes some people had popped home or to the supermarket around the block for candles. The show proceeded according to schedule: everyone threw themselves into it, the suspects made their statements and answered questions at the tables and, eventually, in spite of the difficulty of reading clue cards and other resources by candlelight, the denouement revealed that one table solved the murder and the guilty party was arrested.
It was another hilarious evening, made all the more exciting by the difficult conditions in which it was held. It’s been a privilege to be a part of bringing so much enjoyment to so many people through so improbable a scenario as the merging of three congregations in a mythical small town. Next Friday, we’ll be with Beckenham Methodists where, hopefully, the power will be on for the whole evening.

“Death by Cooperation” is available as a complete kitset on CD ROM. You can do it yourself, or negotiate with Bev and me to stage it for you.