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No amount of roles too many for one man
Pastor Ken Keene dresses as the Biblical figure, Moses. Keene has created more than 75 solo dramas based on stories from the Bible.
For more than 40 years Pastor Ken Keene has performed solo dramas based on well-known figures from the Bible. His love for performing theater has inspired more than 75 one-man plays.
The first character he portrayed was an old shepherd, who Keene created to share the story of Christmas.
“My goal is to make the Bible come alive. As the Bible comes alive they see real people and real issues,” Keene said.
Keene performs regularly at Trinity Assembly of God, where he has been pastor for five years.
One of his first performances at Trinity was as Darius, the man whose daughter Jesus resurrected. He performed this solo drama for Father’s Day and received a good response.
Keene also performs at camps and other churches. Earlier this summer he performed at a sleep-away camp as Elijah.
“I enjoy doing Elijah because he was a wild prophet,” Keene said. “Some of the principles of his life are interesting and unique.”
Keene was formerly executive director of the Heartland Conference Retreat Center for the Assembly of God. While he was leading that ministry, he developed new characters including Obadiah Smith, who was involved with the Underground Railroad.
“I retold about the horrors and the slave ships,” he said. “We had a slave ship they could walk through with different things.”
Keene grew up attending Memorial Methodist Church in Cleveland. Every year the church produced a play to help youths raise money for camp. Those early days of theater got Keene interested in drama.
Keene later attended Asbury College in Kentucky and studied speech and religious drama.
One of Keene’s most requested performances and one he enjoys performing is the story of Noah. He said there is a lot of humor involved in it.
“In all of my dramas, I try to include a little bit of humor, try to see the lighter side of some of those things,” Keene said.
He adds a little humor into his dramas, like Noah sharing information about the conditions of the ark. Noah did everything God asked including feeding and watering the animals. After you feed animals, animals do what they do, Keene said.
“You can’t believe the bottom of the ark and the stench of it,” reads the dialogue in the play. “To this day Mrs. Noah will not let me have house pets. Even in the center of God’s will, serving God can stink. Even though the ark really stank, no one wanted to leave while the storm was going on.”
Keene performs most of the dramas by himself but enlists help when needed.
Last year around 40 people put on a drama about Jesus Christ being led to Golgotha to be crucified.
Youth pastor Gary Buchanan said the dramas foster unity among church members. The dramas also provide an outlet to worship God that is not boring, Buchanan said.
“Trinity is not just a brick building. It is a place to enjoy yourself, where you see the Bible come alive,” Buchanan said.
The performances have also increased attendance at the church. A couple of years ago the church had declined in numbers, but the dramas brought out visitors.
“We have been able to keep some of those folks,” Keene said. “When we go out to other places we are not trying to recruit.”
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