Dramatizing History, Part I: Why Dramatize History?
A significant part of story telling is retelling true stories. From news articles and headlines to ballads and epics, the tone of conveying history is vast from generation to generation.
Webster’s New World 3rd College Edition
drama: greek roots/1. a literary composition that tells a story, usually of human conflict, by means of dialogue and action, to be performed by actors; /2. the art or profession of writing, acting or producing plays.
dramatize: to make into a drama; adapt (a story, events, etc.) for performance on the stage, in a movie, etc.
1828 Webster’s Dictionary
DRAMA: [Gr. δραμα, from δραω, to make] A poem or composition representing a picture of human life, and accomodated to action.
DRAMATIZE: To compose in the form of the drama; or to give to a composition the form of a play. At Riga in 1204 was acted a prophetic play, that is, a dramatized extract from the history of the Old and New Testaments. Tooke’s Russia.
The stage and screen have a way of presenting history to a wide audience – the young, the old, the illiterate and the inarticulate. Of course, a medium so effective for communication is, like the internet, excessively flawed in many ways. Freedom of speech is often abused, morality mutilated and “artistry” sickening.
Many proper Christians throughout time have decided that avoiding such a potentially tentative industry would make things better. Unfortunately, with few believers actively protecting and improving the field, it is now largely governed by an elite and wealthy group of people that abide by a liberal code with a vengeance. No, there is no need for generalizations and stereotypes, but the facts are cold and hard. Non-discerning people produce material that becomes a hit thanks to a non-discerning audience. The vicious cycle continues, and everyone in the industry begins a limbo challenge: how low can you go before the audience simply can’t bear to watch it anymore?
I heard that not too long ago some atheists stated that “Christians aren’t very creative”. Us? The ones that read the History Book of the Universe? The ones that understand the awesome story of creation, corruption and redemption better than anyone else? The ones that see history as CHRIST’s excellent plot – more intricate and beautiful than anything a novelist can conceive of?
These past two years I worked on writing a historical screenplay, and during that time I learned a lot about not only history, but the artistry of telling it. I would like to share what I learned and perhaps make that the main theme of my blog.
Dramatizing history can cover a wide range of topics and styles. Sometimes it covers historical events with fictional characters (historical fiction), and other times is actually covers historical characters and historical events. The latter is often more challenging because it requires you to harness your creativity within a pre-set plot. The fun in it is that it is similar to an artist painting from reality and a photographer taking and enhancing a photo – the writer gets to show the audience his or her perspective of the whole picture and enhance the shades and details of the story that they find fascinating.
By the way, the Christian authors are – or should be – the best. They are the people that see important meaning and themes of history and understand why it is worth remembering. If you think they aren’t creative, it is because there are too few of them in comparison to the non-believers that have taken over the professional story telling industry. Those people have, as Geoff Botkin said, worked extremely hard to get to where they are while many Christians have been lazy and thus surrendered the creative industry to them. Furthermore, the devil has been around long enough to make up some pretty convincing stories himself – and he wants to retell history in a way that glorifies him rather than the CREATOR.
The painting in the banner is of a scene from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is the scene in which his uncle, the king, is convicted of his sin while watching a play that Hamlet produced about a character who acts like the king himself. That is where Hamlet’s line, “The play’s the thing – wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king” comes from. It reminds me of the time Nathan told a convicting parable to King David (2 Samuel 12) – but King Claudius was not nearly as repentant (a la King Saul). I’ve read that even Hamlet is supposedly based on an actual historical character.
Well, I’ll begin my research, analysis and writing and see what comes of it.