Today, I’m featuring CITA (Christians in Theatre Arts, www.cita.org) and its executive director Dale Savidge. CITA’s mission is “to impact the world and further the Kingdom of God by encouraging and equipping Christians in the theatre arts.” CITA helps theatre artists through a variety of ways, including its publications, conference, and regional groups.
Dale Savidge has been involved with CITA since its beginnings in the mid-1980s, serving as either President or Executive Director ever since. Dale has two masters degrees in theatre as well as a PhD in Theatre and English from the University of South Carolina. Of CITA, he says, “It has been my passion and very rewarding work.”
LeAnne: One of CITA’s goals is to address the isolation that Christian theater artists feel. Why do they feel isolated?
Dale: Not all theatre artists feel isolated, but those who do speak of their situation as between the church and the theatre: the church doesn’t always understand (or accept) their position in the theatre and the theatre community often doesn’t understand their faith in Christ. This is less common than when CITA began some 20 years ago, before the church had co-opted the theatre for its own purposes. But there are still underlying theological/philosophical suspicions of theatre which are commonly found in Christianity and which sometimes manifest themselves in an antitheatrical prejudice.
LM: What are some ways CITA provides support to them?
DS: We are a network, a community of people, so our primary means of support is to forge connections between people who are Christians and who love theatre. We publish newsletters and a magazine, we hold conferences and publish books, we hold auditions and play contests, but the single most valuable service we offer is creating times and places where Christian theatre artists can interact.
LM: What are some ways the church can support or encourage fellow Christians in theater?
DS: #1 – Buy their work. If they write a play, produce it. If they produce a play, buy a ticket. It’s that simple. You can pray for them, welcome them into your church, treat them nice, etc., but theatre is a terribly competitive field and everyone, Christian and non, has to work very hard to earn a living in it. If the Christian community would spend as much money on live theatre as they do on other types of entertainment (sports and movies to name two) it would have an immediate and profound impact on the arts in their local community.