Paul's Online Resources Emporium
picture of Paul at work

Frequently Asked Questions

Downloading scripts

About the author

Copyright issues

Advice on performance

About the web site

How do I create a printed script?

Every resource page has a link to an rtf file. Click on this and your browser will either open it using a word processor, or prompt you to save it to disk. Alternatively you can right click on the link and select 'Save Target As...'. Once the file is open in a word processor you can do with it what you like - change font size, adjust page settings, fiddle with the layout - and then print it out.

Why are the downloads in rtf format?

RTF stands for Rich Text Format. It is a simple format which most standard word processors will happily recognise and be able to manipulate. The layout is slightly more sophisticated than on the accompanying web page, and therefore the rtf file will be much easier to work with on your own computer.

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Who are you?

I am a Methodist Minister. If you want to know more than that, explore my Home Page.

By what authority do you do these things?

I admit I have no formal qualifications other than over twenty years experience of leading worship and a penchant for amateur dramatics.

Where did this material come from?

I'd like to say it's all out of my own head, and that would be true but misleading. Over the years I've accumulated a wealth of concepts, jokes, teaching and illustrations from a wide variety of sources which have become lodged deep in my conscious or subconscious memory. Out of this ferment of ideas has come the material in this Emporium. Some of it was written during a three-month sabbatical in 2007 and some is previously-written material I have only now put on the web.

Why have you published this material on the web?

The deeply spiritual answer is that I want to see the Kingdom of God thrive and am hoping my humble contributions may help. An equally honest answer is that I enjoy writing and the web provides an outlet for my efforts.

Why is the laptop screen blank on that photograph?

When the picture was taken, the laptop screen showed one of these web pages, but for some reason the camera didn't pick it up. The photograph really does show me at work. Honest.

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Will it cost anything to use this material?

No. The cost is zilch, zero, nowt. Everything in this Emporium is available free to whoever can make good use of it.

Who owns the copyright?

My understanding of such things is that I as the author automatically own the copyright. But I've no wish to stand on ceremony. Don't let that stop you using or even reproducing the content of this site.

Am I allowed to make changes?

Now that's a very good question. I want to say yes. I want to say I don't mind. On the other hand I know there have been times when performers have inadvertently or consciously changed my script and I have had to sit there thinking, "this isn't the way I wrote it!" I suppose the answer is that you should feel free to make any changes which improve on the original... and if I'm not there to notice the changes, then I'm hardly going to complain, am I?

Do I have to acknowledge you as the author?

In the setting of worship, it would be a distraction to announce who had written the sketch, so no you don't need to acknowledge me. Just go ahead and use the resources in the way that suits you best. On the other hand, if you are reproducing some of this material in print, then it would be nice if "by Paul Cockburn" could appear somewhere.

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What is your attitude to props, costumes and scenery?

Less is more. The sketches are generally designed to require no scenery, no special costumes and only a few essential props. If performed in worship, the quicker you can just get on with it, the better. Of course, sometimes an appropriate article of clothing can help establish the character. But my advice is keep it simple.

Do you expect the actors to learn their lines?

In most cases, no. With only a few exceptions, these sketches were designed to be read from a script. Though the readers do need to look up at the congreagtion as much as possible.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share regarding how to speak?

Speak SLOWLY. Don't rush the lines, even when growing passionate. Keep a measured pace.
Speak CLEARLY. Don't gabble or mumble. Enunciate every word.
Speak LOUDLY. However worthwhile your words, if people can't hear you then you may as well not bother. Imagine a deaf lady in the back row. Even when you have a microphone (and I hope in many cases the actors will each have access to a mike), speak up. Don't rely on the amplification to do all the work. And if you get a kind of echoing feedback, the trick is to get closer to the mike and speak louder! If you move away from the mike, the operator will be forced to turn up the volume which will only make the feedback worse.

What is the secret to a good performance?

One word. Practice. The more familiar you are with the material the better it will come across. Admittedly these sketches are designed not to need extensive time-consumeing rehearsal, but you can't get away without at least one run through - and more if you have time.

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Will you be adding more material to this site?

Whenever I produce something I think might be of value to other churches, I will add it the site. I don't yet know how often that will be.

Would you like feedback?

I'd welcome it. Especially in three areas:
1. Any mistakes that need correcting, or improvements that can be incorporated.
2. Any additions to this FAQ page. I do get frustrated when I have a very obvious question regarding a particular site and the FAQ page contains nothing remotely resembling that question. In compiling this page I have tried to consider what questions a visitor might actually ask, but I am willing to add anything you think I've missed.
3. Use of the material. My hope is that one day someone somewhere will find these resources helpful, and it would cheer me to know if that was ever the case.
For this and any other feedback, email me. Thanks.

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