Wednesday, August 3, 2011

After "The End" // Colt Mavity reflects on a life-changing and faith-changing play

On July 19th, 2011 at the Riverside Church Theatre in Manhattan and then again on July 23rd at University Lutheran Church in Harvard Square I was blessed to be part of a play that transcended anything I've ever witnessed within the bounds of "theater." It was an original play titled I Come To The End (the title taken from Psalm 139:18 NRSV) which I wrote and which was performed by 7 students from a rural town which most of you have never heard of in North Dakota. It was part of a larger ministry trip to New York City and Boston which sought to accomplish a "dual-pronged ministry" comprised of "basic needs ministry" (ie. serving meals to the homeless) and "ministry through the arts" (which included not only the play but an original visual art exhibit which featured original photography and paintings by the students on the trip and which was organized and curated in large part by one of our incredibly talented young photographers: high school sophomore Brittney Ann Berg).

Our group of 7 high school students was a mix of 4 Lutheran students and 3 Catholic students ranging in age from 15-18 along with 4 chaperones: University of North Dakota senior English Literature major Trista Schlosser as well as one of the foundations of the church where I work (not to mention an extraordinary photographer), Terri Houghton. Our chaperones also included two Duke Divinity grads: Toby Bonar, who was the play's live musician, as well as myself.)

A few weeks back, before just as we were about to debut the show at Riverside, Sarah Howell asked me to offer a reflection of the experience(s) of performing the play once it was complete and to post it on New Creation's blog. I immediately said I would love to, but after reflecting upon it, I think it is far better that instead of hearing from me (the youth pastor) that you hear from one of the students who was absolutely integral to the production from all the way back in March through the final scene on July 23 in Harvard Square. That person is an amazing young man named Colt Mavity.

Colt was my assistant director, a key actor, and the show included two full original poems that he penned as well. In other words, he was an essential part of the huge heart beating at the center of our remarkable play. Colt graduated a couple months ago from high school and will be attending Dakota College of Bottineau in a few weeks this fall on a basketball scholarship. I doubt that many young men on a basketball scholarship anywhere in America can act and write poetry as well as Colt. You can reach him at:

Alright Colt, take it away! -- Leif Erik Bergerud

"To say the absolute least, performing this play changed my life. It was so much more than just a play to everyone, actors, actresses, audience members, crew members, etc. Performing this play was such a spiritual journey. A bunch of random high school students were able to become a family of their own with unspoken bonds that can never be broken. All because of a play about coming to the end and going through the end this was possible. We didn't perform it for the reviews or the audience or even ouselves, but for God. Through His light this play was able to flourish to the absolute fullest.

Sitting in the audience, I believe it would be unmistakenly clear that the emotion behind each "actors'" face can come across as so real and touching to anyones heart. The reason behind that is because each individual had the same mindset that we really wanted to help somebody just by performing this play to get its message across. It didn't matter who it was for. It could have been for a spectator in the audience, the sound guy in the back, or even one of us on stage. The fact the we can all say it helped us in some way shows us that this play was without a doubt a success. I believe that it has the potential to help any single person in the entire world in some way."-- Colt Mavity.

[Photos: At upper right, Colt Mavity in rehearsals at The Avalon Theater in Minneapolis. Group Photo below: Our entire cast/crew after our debut performance and talk-back discussion session on 19 July 2011 at the Riverside Church Theater inside the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan. Left to right: Lucas Stroh, Colt Mavity, Ashley Brew, Jessen Dolechek, Leif Erik Bergerud, Trista Schlosser, Karly Houghton, Brittney Ann Berg, Tess Gaugler, Terri Houghton, Toby Bonar.]

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