Foothills Alliance Church will host their seasonal Christmas theatre production once again this year. The church has been producing seasonal plays for Christmas and Easter for over sixteen years now. “We do it because we want to cast some input on the true story of Christmas that gets compromised pretty easily,” said Ian Trigg, lead pastor at Foothills Alliance. With how multicultural Canada is becoming, Christmas has turned into a controversial subject in recent years. The staff and volunteers at Foothills want to ensure that the story doesn’t get forgotten.
“We try to find a creative way to the tell story,” said Trigg. “We do it for our community. It gives people opportunities for art, music, acting, things like that.” This year’s Christmas play will be titled ‘The Missing Piece’ and it was written by Adam Schnell. Schnell volunteers with the church writing theatre plays as well as various short skits for regular church services. He’s been writing for Foothills for six years now. Schnell says that the inspiration and ideas for plays usually come from various sources but two in particular—reaction to other scripts or being commissioned to write an idea.
For the upcoming Christmas play he was commissioned by a sort of brainstorming team at the church to write the story based on their idea. “Even something that’s fictional has to be true or it has no power,” said Schnell. “Critics who attend our church plays can’t argue with it. We’re giving them an experience.” Some of Foothills previous theatre productions have been set in the first century A.D. but this year, The Missing Piece is set in the twenty first century.
The broad theme of the play is peace and Christmas and how in a world of tragedy and brokenness peace can be found at Christmas. Rebecca Schnell, Adam’s wife, has worked at Foothills Alliance Church full time as a creative arts and worship arts director since 2012. She’s a producer and the assistant director for the Christmas production. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and puts it to good use at the church. “There’s power in the arts to break down walls as church as regular,” said R. Schnell. “One of the most powerful ways to create pathways for people to know God is to leverage the art.”
FAC’s seasonal theatre productions allows for people a better opportunity to invite friends in to the church. “Our productions are an incredible way to connect people and build a community,” said R. Schnell. Many people who may be uncomfortable inviting friends to a regular church service have the chance to invite them to a professionally produced Christmas theatre production. “Our plays provide a great opportunity for people to invite friends,” said R. Schnell.
FAC’s seasonal plays involve a great deal of staff and volunteers. “Each show within itself always has some kind of challenge, it’s just part of the artistic process,” said Schnell. “There’s lots of planning and determining volunteer’s abilities.” Mark Holmes is a professional actor in Calgary and a good friend of the Schnell’s. He’s the lead actor in most of FAC’s productions. Holmes is one of the core people who makes FAC’s theatre productions happen. “Mark’s ministry is through the arts,” said Schnell. R. Schnell said that Holmes is a valuable asset because he’s an experienced actor and has a high level of professional quality.
Holmes started acting in 1997 and his first FAC production was in 2011. “Arts is another way for people to connect to God, find God, meet him,” said Holmes. Holmes said that theatre is a different way for people to personally connect. “I believe I have a gift in acting and I think it’s important to give my gift back to the church.”