A Concise, Brief & Succinct History of the Plumb Line Players
Plumb Line Players had its inception in my (David Dollar) mind and spirit in the Spring of 1992 after playing a despicable villain in a high school production of "Oliver". God began to speak to me
about the possibilities of how drama could be utilized to portray truth to a world of truth-hungry and confused people. My experience with the dramatic arts was limited at best. But I distinctly
remember hearing the still small voice (which I don't generally hear audibly) say "You need experience" and that was it. No great revelation, just some sound, practical advise from my Maker. I was
glad to obey His voice.
From that day on, I began to take part in as many theatrical productions as I could, and still maintain a business and family. Not an easy task. But I was getting experience and loving it. I acted in community theater, academic theater and Church-based theater. Anywhere I could act, I would act.
I soon found out that in order to get opportunities to act, I would have to learn other theater skills. Make-up became a fascination, and because I was already a carpenter, I was called upon to build sets, which is really an art form when it comes to the stage. I read as many books as I could get my hands on about acting methods and different approaches.
I found that I could get the best information on the craft by reading biographies of famous actors. I began to read plays in search for material for acting and began to gain an understanding of what made a good play good and a bad, bad. I found myself while reading a good play, imagining how I could stage it.
All this time I was working with friends in church and other places to get any chance I could to ply my craft. When people in my church began to ask me why I didn't start a drama ministry, I kept saying that I didn't feel qualified. And I didn't.
My first opportunity to direct came in 1997 while working with a local community theater group. They need someone to direct their Fall play because the director had to back out. I said I would as long as I could choose that play. They agreed and the piece I chose was "Shadowlands" a play about C.S. Lewis the famous Christian apologist and fiction writer.
I soon felt the go ahead from God to try a Drama Ministry, and at that point I had no idea what that really meant.
In early 1999 I had to leave the community theater group I was with because of how poorly the leaders were handling things. I was hoping I could find a "Christian" group to be a part of. I did find a group in Raleigh that I work on one play with and really thought this was a group I could grow with and fulfill the vision I had for drama. However, after only 1 play, they changed leadership and suddenly quit doing any plays. Well, I just didn't feel like I could wait around for ever to get this thing going. So I decided to produce a play in my church under a name that came to me after much prayer, Plumb Line Players.
I wanted something having to do with the truth but not blatantly Christian. My dream and vision is to eventually have a theater that is housed outside the Church but supported (not necessarily financially) by the Church.
One of my goals was to learn how to write sketches for performance in Church. I didn't consider myself much of a writer and was frustrated when I tried. I remember reading somewhere that SNL actors created their own sketches that were used on the show, using improvisation. I wanted to learn how but didn't know anyone who had done it. Whenever I mentioned it to my actor friends, I got the same cold reaction. For the most part they just said they didn't think they needed it. I realize now that they were really just scared of it.
I still had this burning desire to use improv for creating sketches as a group with my acting buds. During that time, my daughter took us to a performance of ComedySportz in Chapel Hill. It was a fun show and I was fascinated by how the group could take suggestions from the audience and turn them into scenes right on the spot. It was later in early 2001 when I took my wife to a Raleigh ComedySportz show that I decided to sign up for their workshop. My plans were to quickly learn the skills and then ply them for use in the drama ministry.
Little did I know that I would be invited into the troupe and start performing in shows regularly. This is how I got hooked on improv. I brought these skills into the drama ministry and started feeling that I could not only use them to create sketches, but also teach actors how to feel comfortable on stage without a script as a crutch. I had been wanting to create an improv team for quite a while and when I came to Covenant Church and began to grow a team. I thought I would try producing a monthly show and see what happened.
We came up with the name Comedy Cafe and have been doing and refining our show since June of '05. I'm thankful for the great people who have come into the group and continue to be a part. I'm hoping this will grow into the ministry God had in mind all those years ago when He spoke softly into my spirit.