Bubble Beard!

John Bromels is an actor, writer, teacher, and fundraiser from Cincinnati, Ohio.  He has presented drama at the Mennonite Junior Youth conventions in both 2009 and 2011, and at the Mennonite Children’s Convention in 2011, and is excited to be joining the crew in Phoenix, too.  He specializes in looking at the scripture in unusual ways, including envisioning John the Baptist as a rock star, Doubting Thomas as a hard-boiled private eye, and Isaiah the Prophet as a stand-up comedian.  John has written for the GATHER ‘ROUND Sunday school curriculum series and for the Motley Fool Blog Network, a group of investment writers.  John is also a member of the Cincinnati improvisation troupe THE BASEMENT DWELLERS.  He loves games, puzzles, game shows, writing, reading, and cooking.

 Q: What is your favorite scripture passage?

A: That’s a tough question.  Most people I know say Micah 6:8, but for me, it has to be Matthew 22:13 or 25:30, where it says “cast him into the outer darkness, where there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Weeping and gnashing of teeth: what a great line!

Q: You work with an improvisation troupe.  What is improvisation?

A: Well, I don’t exactly WORK with an improv troupe: I PLAY with an improv troupe.  Improvisation is basically making things up as you go along.  There are lots of different ways to do improv, from short games that have very specific parameters (being in a certain location, talking a certain way) to long-form scenes that can last for up to an hour and have no specific guidelines!  It’s a lot of fun because there are no wrong answers (well, almost).  You can say just about anything and it’s the “right” thing to say.  That’s very freeing for a performer.

 Q: How do you come up with some of your crazy Bible characters?

A: I really just look at what’s already there and things sort of come to me.  Like John the Baptist as a rock star, for example.  The Bible tells us that John dressed strangely, that he ate strange foods, and that everyone in Jerusalem and for miles around came to see him.  So I put that together and thought, “Yeah.  Kind of like a rock star…but an 80’s rock star with the wild hair and outfits…but one with an important message.”  And that’s where it came from.

With John in particular, I think it’s important to remember the kind of celebrity status he must have enjoyed.  We don’t have religious leaders today with that kind of profile…it’s reserved for movie or music stars.  So I think Rock Star John the Baptist really makes that connection for an audience.

Q: How do you think the world would be different if bears were the dominant species instead of humans?

A: Well, everything would shut down for four months for hibernation season.  Also, the bears would probably squeeze their honey out of little human-shaped containers.  And the bear cubs would sleep with stuffed “Teddy Humans” at night.

Q: Any final thoughts?

A: I would say, “Convention 2013: Be There or Be Square,” but I do not want anyone to be square, so I will just say, “Convention 2013: Be There or Be Somewhere Else.”

We’ve got a great junior youth lineup planned, including John and a whole host of other great speakers. Check out the details here and if you know someone in grades 6-8 who should be in Phoenix! They can still register onsite!