For the past 30 years, Swartz has entertained audiences across the U.S. and internationally with creative storytelling that sheds a new light on biblical stories and social justice issues. His performances have ranged from one-man shows to full score musicals, but within each of his shows Swartz aims to find an intersection between theater and theology, between humor and biblical stories. This is what he calls “comedic exogenesis.”
Next week, Goshen will experience the range of abilities in Swartz’s repertoire through a variety of shows and seminars. “The Big Story” is a one-man show that takes on the entire scope of the Bible, from Abraham’s covenant to the book of Revelations. “Laughter and Lament,” a monologue and multimedia show, takes a personal look into mental illness and the creative process. “I’d Like to Buy an Enemy” is a satire piece that explores the position of the U.S. within social justice issues.
Bob Yoder, campus pastor, is one of many community members who worked to make Ted & Co.’s visit possible. With the generous help of numerous Goshen College departments, College Mennonite Church, JustPeace Seminars and Oaklawn, 80 percent of the total costs were covered.
In addition, all ticket profits from the events will go to The Window, a non-profit organization that provides basic services to low-income individuals. Given the high unemployment rate in Goshen for the past few years, Yoder and the other organizers felt the need to give back to the community. “We wanted to benefit a local non-profit agency that is serving the needs of the financially challenged,” Yoder said.
According to Yoder, the committee also hoped Swartz’s presentations would serve as a gift to the various communities they represented: the Goshen College student body, the employees of Oaklawn, College Mennonite Church and the local community outside of the church.
“Even though we all had our different reasons for bringing him to Goshen, we all believe that Ted’s ministry is powerful and important to hear,” said Yoder. “He certainly brings an interesting ‘faith and drama’ perspective.”
For many in this community, Ted Swartz is a familiar face. Over the years, Swartz has performed in a number of area churches and Mennonite youth conventions.
Emma Ruth, a sophomore, recalls joining Ted & Co. for a traveling show that came through her hometown of Harleysville, Penn. “He was looking for people to sing in the chorus, so I joined,” she said. “It was a neat experience. I think he’s going to be a lot of fun to have on campus.”
Schedule of Events:
Wednesday, February 8:
– 10 a.m. Church-Chapel: “The Big (& Ted) Story”
– 7 p.m. Umble Center: “The Big Story”
Thursday, February 9:
– 9:15-10:30 a.m. Koinonia Room, College Church: “Incorporating Drama in Worship”
– 7 p.m. Church-Chapel: “Laughter and Lament” (tickets required)
Friday, February 10
– 10 a.m. Church-Chapel: “Reflections on Laughter and Lament”
– 7 p.m. The Goshen Theater: “I’d Like to Buy an Enemy (tickets required)
By Mary Roth