Q: How Do We Produce the Show? What do we do?
A: First, you need to read the script. You may order the Perusal (reading) Script on our Order Page. Then you need to apply for-- and sign-- a Performance License (don't worry, you'll be accepted-- it's a legal formality) and pay for the Performance Packet. We'll then send you a download link to a file that has the scripts (you're given permission to print all the copies you need for your production) and all the notes to help you present the show in the best possible way. The low fee you pay for the Packet also includes the Performance Royalty for up to three performances. If you present more than three public performances, you'll need to pay KMR Scripts' regular royalty rate of $35 royalty for each additional performance. After your performance(s), all copies of all scripts you printed from the performance Packet. The only exception is that you may keep one (1) copy of your production script for archive purposes.
Q: How did the show come about?
A: Our church had always done a Maundy Thursday drama of some sort. I was speaking with the person in charge of the event, and she mentioned she was running out of ideas. I told her I would be happy to write a new Last Supper drama for her. Well, I really didn't expect her to remember that conversation-- let alone hold me to it! Well, bless her heart-- she did. Now, my problem was to come up with a script. I knew I couldn't write yet another Last Supper play with 13 guys sitting around the table quoting the Bible. (not that there's anything wrong with that-- but by now most Christians have all that memorized...) So I started brainstorming. In that process (or should I say "chaos?") I kept coming back to memories of my childhood where my Mom, my sister, all my Aunts and any other female that was in the house, were all gathered in the Kitchen preparing whatever meal we were gathered for that day.
I wanted to tell the story in a way that would make the audience sit and really listen-- because I believed (as was my case) that it has probably been a long time since they've had to do that with this story. As I said, most Christians have it all memorized by now-- but by "mixing it up" a little, changing the faces, the location, the perspective, I could perhaps help bring some new life, some renewed pertinence back to the story for them.
Q: Where did you get the idea for your version of the story?
A: I'm an adapter. Most of the children's shows I've written are adaptations of traditional children's literature (Fairy Tales). When I write an adaptation of a fairy tale, I have to find a "hook" -- a reason why I am going to add yet another version of the story to the countless number of other variations of the story. When I wrote Little Red Riding Hood, the hook was that the Wolf was silly and bumbling, and he was more interested in the goodies Little Red was carrying than he was in Little Red. Likewise, when I agreed to write this show for my home church, the last thing I wanted to write was yet another version of 13 guys sitting around eating bread and wine. It's been done. Many times. A few times too many. I'm not taking away anything from Jesus' story-- my salvation is based upon it-- it's just that ... been there, done that. During the research phase of my writing routine, I was at a family get-together. I come from a rather large family. My mom had 17 brothers and sisters and my dad had 7-- so I always had a lot of aunts around. I remember all the various family reunions, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas parties, etc., with all my aunts in the kitchen doling out advice and observations about cooking, men, kids, life. I thought it would be interesting to explore Jesus' Last Supper story from the perspective of the women.
I've long wondered why it was that men were declared the the guardian of the Law, the spiritual leader of the family, the head of the household-- and we were told this in the Bible, which was 95% written by men. I'm not casting dispersions on the authority of the Bible. It's what we have of God's Word and my Faith is based upon what's written inside it. I'm just saying that it seems strange to me that God would deny mankind 50% of its humanity (the woman's perspective) by having so much of the Bible being "inspired" to men. Men and Women look at things so differently-- the Bible would have been a much different thing had more women been more "in the loop."
Q: I found a copy of the script. I can just photocopy it and produce the show, right?
A: Oh, no. Beneath the Upper Room is copyrighted and fully protected by US and international copyright laws. This is not a public domain skit that is up for grabs by anyone who chooses to do it. I make my livelihood from the sales of my scripts and payment of performance royalty for them. Photocopying scripts (except as authorized under our Performance License) and unauthorized (unlicensed) public performances are expressly forbidden, both of which are considered theft by US courts. Ignorance of copyright laws is inexcusable and churches are held just as libel as any other group or individual in copyright infringement court cases.
Q: Why are there different fee structures?
A: I would not feel comfortable accepting my usual fees from churches who want to present this show to their congregations. As long as a Church is presenting this for its congregation and not trying to make a profit from it-- I want to make it as inexpensive and easy as possible for them. However, if a church is using my script as a money-making project, or if a theatre or other non-church group is presenting the show and charging admission, I think they should pay the standard royalty fee used for any of my other shows.
Q: Why not just make it free for churches?
A: Beneath the Upper Room is a copyrighted script. Giving it away for free would open up a can of worms that makes a big mess, legally speaking. $50.00 (plus shipping) is a small amount of money for such a production. If we just sent the scripts out and everything was free, it would be too easy for people to assume that it was "public domain" and we would lose control over the content of the show and how it could be used.
KMR Scripts is a play publishing company. If we charged the same fees we use for our other scripts, churches would pay $180.00 ($80 for scripts + $100 for the Production Packet) just to get the rehearsal materials, then pay an additional $35.00 per performance for royalty. So, if they were going to do the show just once on Maundy Thursday, it would cost them over $200 (not counting any deposits). If a church can't afford to spend $50.00, then they probably can't afford to present chancel drama.
Q: This isn't how we get cantatas and other chancel drama scripts. Why the difference in ordering procedures?
A: These are the same procedures used by theatres to present published plays to their audiences. KMR Scripts (our publishing company) handles over 70 other plays that are presented all around the world. The fact that this play appeals to churches doesn't change the way KMR Scripts licenses its use (actually, we've significantly reduced the cost for producing this play for churches, see above). If you want to legally produce this unique play by Kevin M Reese, you will need to follow our procedures.
Q: Why do I have to pay to read a script-- what if I don't like it and don't present it? That doesn't seem fair.
A: Anytime you experience something created from another's imagination-- a script, a book, a movie, a song, etc.-- you are affected, you are changed because of that experience-- that's the creator's intent. The affect may be profound and life-altering -- or it may be as subtle as "boy, I'm not going to read another book about THAT again." There is no way you can go back to the state you were in before you experienced it. It's not like buying a car or a stereo where the "experience" stays with the object (you get rid of the object, you no longer have the experience).
That's the chance you take in presenting published scripts to your congregations/audiences. The script is a published work of copyrighted literature. You wouldn't walk into a Barnes & Noble store and ask to take a book home for free to read, just to see if you liked it first. Think of the $5 (plus shipping) we charge as an investment. It would be silly if we made you pay $50 for our Performance Packet without an opportunity to read the script first. That's why we offer the Perusal Script for only $5. If you visit any theatre office, you will see the bookshelves lined with hundreds--if not thousands-- of scripts that they purchased for the possibility of producing. Some they produced, many more they passed on for one reason or another-- but they keep it for reference, in case they decide to produce it in the future. Also, it's the income from all those script purchases that allows playwrights to keep writing plays instead of working all day long as a greeter at WalMart.
Q: I'm not REALLY a director-- can I get some help?
A: Boy, are you ever in the right place! There's not much an ol' actor/director/teacher loves to do more than give advice. HA.
When you produce our show, you get a handy-dandy Production Packet that is full of ... stuff. Sure, it's got the scripts (you're allowed to print off as many copies as you need for your actors and staff), but more importantly, it's chock full of notes, lists and schedules. We help you figure out your production and rehearsal schedules, we show you what vegetables to use, we give you a detailed floor plan that even shows where each of the ladies stand during the show. We even throw in a video of the original production that lets you see how everything goes together. It literally doesn't get much easier than this! CLICK HERE to see all the help we provide to those who are licensed to produce BTUR.
The topper-of-all-the-toppers is that you also get the phone number and email address of Kevin M Reese (the fellow who wrote the script). Anytime you have a question about the show or how to work something in the show, he's just a phone call/email away. He LOVES visiting with people about the show and about theatre! He's directed hundreds of plays in his career, both amateur and professional, and loves to help newcomers-- both actors and directors/producers.
Q: The Performance License says we can video record our performance?
A: Yes, you are granted a LIMITED license to video record your performance-- but only for archive purposes. Click here to see our Video Recording Page.
Q: Our congregation expects high-quality productions. Is there a musical version of this script?
A: No. Sometimes the best way to tell a particular story is with a quiet voice.
Q: We always present a Last Supper play with the Jesus and the 12 Disciples-- can we present your play with ours?
A: No. Beneath the Upper Room is a copyrighted script and nothing can be added between the first word and the last (other than your Communion service and Benediction). There will never be an exception. If you wanted to present your Last Supper play, then present Beneath the Upper Room-- that would be fine.
We did, however, hear of a church that had a "Living Painting" of DaVinci's Last Supper as the background of Beneath the Upper Room. That sounded pretty neat. But the "painting" was just seen-- not heard. Since nothing was added to the BTUR script, that was fine.
Q: Your description sounds great-- can we just order the Production Packet and bypass reading the script? We're kind of in a hurry.
A: We won't refuse your money. But we also won't refund your money if you later change your mind. The reason we strongly suggest that you read the script before you purchase the Performance Packet is that you really have no idea what the show is until you actually read it. We pay someone to write very attractive promos and blurbs of our shows. You won't know the "nuts and bolts" of the show until you sit down and read it. Only then can you visualize if it will work in your church with your actors.
By the way: though we don't offer refunds, if you later decide not to perform the show, we do offer a voucher that lets you present the show at a later time, perhaps in a year or two. The voucher is transferable and never expires. So if you paid for the show and are issued a license, you're not completely out of luck if you have to cancel your show. We'll send you (or whoever you give the voucher to)the Performance Packet and let you present up to three performances-- at no additional charge.
Q: Any plans to offer more chancel drama?
A: Yes. Kevin M Reese has written a new, short (15 Min) Nativity play entitled "Welcome to Holy-Day Inn." We're in the process of figuring out the licensing process. We're looking at making that one a secure download show at a much-reduced price.
Kevin is also in the planning stage of writing a sort of "companion piece" to Beneath the Upper Room," tentatively called "The Upper Room." It will be the story of what's going on in the Upper Room while the ladies from "Beneath the Upper Room" are serving the Seder Meal. The play can be "Act II" to Beneath the Upper Room-- or it can be a stand-alone play. We'll keep you posted!
Q: Why are all the documents in the performance packet (such as the program, etc) PDF files that we can only read-- not edit?
A: That's just how we set the Performance Packet up. We were just concerned with showing how the various documents looked. If you have the full version of Adobe Acrobat, you can edit the PDF file. More and more word processors are able to edit them-- I know WordPerfect can. We're making changes to the materials we send out ever year-- mostly based upon requests made by our customers. Most of the original documents were produced using WordPerfect. I would guess that most churches us Microsoft Word as their word processor. Word can import WordPerfect documents easily. If you would like to see if we have the documents in a particular format, feel free to contact us. Chances are good we can find a work-around that will work for you.
Q: Our congregation is accustomed to hearing more inclusive language. The play referes to MANkind a lot and seems to be very male-ordiented in word choices. Why is this?
A: (from Kevin's note in the script) The language used in this play typically uses male gender, following usage patterns of the Greek Text of the New Testament. It is understood that this usage does not follow best practice for modern audiences. I have attempted to maintain the generally-accepted usage of first century Judah, which highlights the prevalent male-dominant atmosphere in which the women of the time had to endure. To modernize the text to inclusive word choices would, in my opinion, take most of the "bite" out of the play. In that respect, this is a play about how it was– not how it should have been.