Earthen Vessels Drama Company is a ministry of Shady Grove Baptist Church, in Van Buren, AR. Our dramas involve both current church members, and drama-lovers from around the Fort Smith/Van Buren area.
EV Drama’s mission is to perform wonderful stories that have the potential to transform lives. We strive to present the Gospel in every production, and hope to see the hearts of our actors, support staff, and audience, drawn closer to the Director of life itself. To that end, we aim to honor and magnify Jesus Christ by giving Him our best, on and off the stage.
Our name comes from 2 Corinthians 4:7 – “But we have this treasure in EARTHEN VESSELS, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
Since 2000, we have produced two plays, Catacombs and A Christmas Carol, for a total of 15 productions, and over 72 individual shows!
Shady Grove first performed their version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, in 2000. Directed by Joseph Owen, Becky Hartsfield, and Mary Hout, the two performance run was a success, prompting a three show production of the same play in 2002, directed by Mary Hout and Janelle Mahan.
Catacombs was directed by Joseph Owen and Faith (Wasson) Beeman in 2001 and again in 2002, and by Joseph Owen in 2003. All three years, the drama was performed in the historic King Opera House in downtown Van Buren, AR. Although there was some shift in cast members from ’01 to ’03, several reprised their same roles for each production.
In 2005, EV Drama moved the production of A Christmas Carol from Shady Grove to the King Opera House. This time it was an eight performance run, under the direction of Joseph Owen and Joanna Owen.
The Owen and Owen team once again produced and directed ACC in 2007. This time there was a grand total of thirteen shows in the King Opera House!
Catacombs came back in 2009, with several of the original cast members returning. John Owen took the Director position, with Joanna Owen as producer. Because of a fire in the King Opera House, the production was staged at the Butterfield Auditorium in Van Buren.
ACC 2009 had five performances, was produced by Joanna Owen, and directed by Jolene Barker.
The ACC 2011 production was directed by Jolene Barker, with a production team of Roger Owen and Paul and Jolene Barker. It ran for 4 performances.
A Christmas Carol 2013 was a miracle production! With show dates set for December 6-8, we had only one Dress Rehearsal to go, when we found out a massive ice storm was headed our way. We waited and prayed, and then listened to the sleet, freezing rain, and snow coming down. With about half of our cast iced in, we knew we’d need to cancel most if not all of the four scheduled shows. Then we found out that the King Opera House was available for the following weekend. This was highly unusual for the KOH to have an open weekend during the busiest month of the year. Amazingly, our cast was almost completely available for that weekend as well. And for those actors who had to miss a night or two, we found understudies who had either already been practicing, or had performed those particular roles in a previous production.
We began the task of re-advertising our play for the new showdates of December 13-15, and announced our plans to work with those who had pre-ordered tickets. At this point we knew this play was out of our hands, and completely in the hands of the Lord. “That the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us”, was truly borne out in the 2013 production. He blessed us with good health for our actors, and wonderful crowds for all four shows. In total, about 800 people came to see Scrooge find redemption.
ACC 2015 saw at least two firsts. All 4 audiences were at capacity, and we surprised the audience (and the cast!) with snow in the final Street Scene for the first time ever!
A Christmas Carol 2017 was wonderful! Five Showdates brought about 1500 people to witness the life-changing story of a Miser who found grace.
Our friend and cast member, Jon Harvey, went to be with the Lord in November of 2018. His passing left a hole in our hearts as well as our cast, as he had become well known for portraying Scrooge for 7 productions (2005-2017). As we prayed about how to proceed with the show, we continually felt God’s leading to move forward, and knew that Jon would be excited for us to continue on. The Lord filled our 2019 cast with both familiar faces and new friends who all became a close ACC family, and Matt Ortega took on the role of Scrooge. Six shows brought over 1,600 people through the King Opera House doors, to witness this wonderful Christmas story of redemption, grace, and hope.
We all know what 2020 looked like, and we were very unsure if there would even be an ACC 2021. God asked us to trust Him for longer than usual before giving us the green light to move forward. But He gave us everything we needed to produce the show with three months less for preparation, and a fast-tracked schedule, ending in 6 full house shows, and 1800 people hearing the Gospel through drama.
It’s now 2023, and God is sending A Christmas Carol to the KOH for the 10th time. We are excited for this amazing production to take the stage, and we pray that He will once more use us to magnify His Name and His grace in our hearts and on the stage.
We are so thankful for all the ways God has used Earthen Vessels Drama Company through the years, to impact lives for His Kingdom!