If you watched the Oscars this past February, one name that you probably don’t remember is the winner for “Best Production Design.” This person is behind-the-scenes, but has a key role in visually telling the story. The job description includes set design, decorating and even some costume design, in addition to supplying all the props.
Why am I bringing this up? We’re not Hollywood, but even our our small-scale skit at a retreat or women’s event benefits from the skills of a person with the gift of “production design.” The setting and props, no matter how simple, can go a long way toward getting the message across. Someone with that gift can read the skit, envision the set and the props needed, and then make it come together. That’s a gift I don’t have!
Since we have no budget for our skits or props, these ladies not only “see” the setting, but they are able to create the scene by repurposing something from around the house, or by using a little cardboard and paint. For example, one of our skits required something that would represent jail bars. So what did our “production designer” come up with? A child safety gate, propped on a desk. It got the point across.
If you plan on using skits, pray for a person with this gift to join your team!
We just added a new skit for free download called “Heart Transplant.” If you haven’t been to the website itself for a while, we have added several new free downloadable skits and graphics over the summer. But “Heart Transplant” is actually one of my favorites, and we have used it in many different settings–from our women’s retreat to a youth mission’s trip. Many of our skits are theme related, and this one was, too–originally. Our retreat theme was “Hearts Entwined with His” and the graphic for that retreat is also available on the website (under “resources”→”graphics”). However, this particular skit is something that could be added to any retreat or event. Its themes of salvation and transformation can be used with any Christian retreat, and applies to any salvation message. Check it out! Find it on the home page under “Latest Free Downloads.”
Just some tips that we have learned over the years that may be helpful for you:
- JUST DO IT! Start small, but try it! Taking on a skit production in addition to the normal event planning may seem like a daunting endeavor, but your efforts will be much appreciated. In an event where teaching takes precedence, skits will be a welcome respite for your ladies.
- Keep an open mind as you assign skit parts. You may not realize that God has gifted the introvert in your group with hidden acting talents. More than once, I have asked an extrovert in the group to participate in the skit and she has refused, while another quieter woman has turned out to be the perfect person for the part.
- Be sure that you as the director have all the contact information for every woman who has a part in your skit. If you are away from home at a retreat location, be sure you have each person’s room number and cell phone nuber. Have everyone meet (or check in with you) before the beginning of the session when the skit will be performed. If someone doesn’t show up, you will have time to find her.
- You may begin skit preparations before retreat registration has opened. But do not give out final role assignments to ladies who have not registered (and made their down payment) for the event/retreat.
- Every actress should have a backup! Even as you are doing read-throughs and rehearsals, everyone should know who they are the backup for. I normally have women with smaller parts to be backups for main characters; I can more easily find women at the last minute to play a minor part.
- Have a person in charge of props and setting up. The director and actresses may help, but you need someone whose mind will be totally focused on the props and sets.
- Make sure props which are to be returned after the event are labeled with the name of the owner. For the most part, anyone contributing a prop to the skit should be responsible for picking it up at the end of the skit.
As I have said, I like hats. However, when there isn’t an appropriate hat to be found, we have made our own simple head attire. One of the simplest ways to do this is to buy a simple headband to decorate. I have to confess, this is not my original idea, but I have some talented ladies who created these “hats” from headbands. We have a skit where all the characters are trees (“A Tree Planted by the Water”), and the headband with leaves glued to it was effective for each of the “saplings” on stage. You may have a skit with sheep or wolves, and how much easier to just have a headband than to try to costume those characters in other ways! Even the bridal veil is an easy way to portray a bride on stage.
Like hats, signs are another friend of the minimalist, or the one producing a skit with limited funds. A well-made and well-placed sign can give your audience a wealth of information. As you can see by some of the signs that we have used above, a sign can tell you location of the action, explain the event, or indicate the passage of time. You may find that one of your ladies has the “gift” of making signs!
Some tips on signs:
- Of course, signs must be large enough for the audience to see, and the font or lettering must be large and legible.
- Letters can be printed out using whatever fonts you prefer from your computer. Then simply cut and piece them together. Using double-sided tape works best to adhere the paper to the board and doesn’t leave the bumpy effects of glue.
- Use something heavier than posterboard if possible, so they don’t bend or fall over easily. Foamboard is nice, or you can back your posterboard with cardboard. Remember, both sides can be used to reduce expenses.
- Outlining the sign using electrical or duct tape helps to make the sign stand out and gives it a professional appearance. These tapes can also be used within the sign to give it dimension or a further “pop”.
- Signs must be placed where the majority of your audience can see them.
- We sometimes use an easel to hold a sign that will be on stage for a while. Other times, a person has walked across the stage with the sign. If possible, signs can be hung up on props or on the wall.