You don’t often find a second-grader and a high school sophomore collaborating creatively and logging hours of theater rehearsal together. This is the beauty of the Jeremiah Players Club, a theater production group at Calvary Lutheran Church in Edina that invites young performers of all ages to participate. Now in its second year, the Jeremiah Players will perform its third production this November. The group was created by Rebekah Moir and is named after the biblical figure of Jeremiah, who said that all children have a view and a voice worth sharing. “Children can have a very unique and powerful voice,” says Moir. “We can always learn from them and their perspective.”
Moir has always loved theater, something she says is in her blood. She first discovered this love in church, where she sang and performed while growing up. She got the teaching bug while working at a summer camp during high school. There she worked as an assistant to the music director, and the following summer, took over the job. “I just got this bee in my bonnet to do a musical with the camp kids,” Moir says. So she did, and although she didn’t realize it at the time, this would set the stage for her future at Calvary Lutheran.
After college, Moir earned a teaching license with a non-degree program at the University of Minnesota. She and her husband, Dan, moved to Grinnell, Iowa where she got involved with a local church and once again flexed her creative muscles. There, she started the church’s youth group and collaborated with students to perform The Little Drummer Boy. Moir moved back to Minnesota in 1996 and joined Calvary Lutheran Church in 2005. She first partnered with her mother on a youth program at Calvary in 2009, and last fall, her idea for a church-based production group came to fruition.
The Jeremiah Players Club performances are a collaborative effort. Students in kindergarten through high school are invited to participate, without restrictions or auditions. Moir picks a Bible story and then sits with her student performers to discuss it. She asks students to reflect on and relate the story to their own lives. Moir then writes an original script that includes the group’s ideas and applicable life lessons. “I think kids are proud of being able to produce something like this and know they did it,” she says.
Jennifer Nelson’s 6-year-old daughter, Lorelai, performed last year in Jeremiah Players Club’s fall and spring plays. Nelson says “the amount of what Moir can do with limited time is pretty impressive.” Natalie Buckman’s 11-year-old daughter, Emma, also performed in both shows and says the age range is what makes the performances unique.
The Jeremiah Players’ first show included eight performers, ranging from kindergarten through tenth grades. They performed The Vacant Lot, a play based on the Sermon on the Mount and focused on loving your enemies. The performance featured a series of stories that Buckman says highlighted each actor’s strengths, with an overall message that loving your enemies is no guarantee that your enemies will love you back. The second production was called The Beatitude Adjustment (How to Count Your Blessings).
“It’s pulling talent that kids and their parents didn’t even know they had,” Buckman says.
Nelson and Buckman agree that the most incredible part of the Jeremiah Players Club is that it gives young actors a start in a stress-free environment.
Jeremiah Players Club welcomes kids of all ages, including non-church members, to participate. All performances are free and open to the public. Visit calvaryedina.org or call 952.941.1251 for more information.