Drama out of a Crisis

20 challenging, fun and inspirational sketches about poverty and justice

Peter Shaw

Currently out of print £7.99

In this book Peter Shaw uses his bold and irreverent sense of humour to identify the global issues that affect us all. Through writing monologues, poems and sketches Peter has succeeded in creating an inspirational and fun tool to help us look at what can seem overwhelming and perhaps find some way to respond.
Steve Clifford, General Director, Evangelical Alliance


Drama out of a Crisis comprises 20 short, easy-to-perform sketches providing a fresh perspective on some of the world's most pressing issues. The material is ideal for church services, one-off all-age specials and youth events.

Designed to engage and explore the issues without being didactic or guilt-inducing, the sketches are organised under specific themes and accompanied by real-life background information, a biblical context, sermon prompts and suggestions for follow-up. Themes include:

  • Prayer and poverty
  • Ending violence against women
  • Food security
  • Natural disasters
  • Malaria
  • Climate change
  • Living with HIV
  • Trade justice
  • Global sanitation crisis
  • Fair trade
  • Water crisis
  • Governance and corruption
  • Education and poverty
  • Speaking out
  • Children at risk
  • Church mobilisation
  • Maternal health
  • Church and community mobilisation
  • The Bible and poverty

The author writes...

Drama is an amazing tool. Jesus used parables (a performance with characters and stories) to illuminate rather than to give clear answers. I hope you will use these sketches to d the same, and that they offer an effective and enhancing way to introduce poverty and justice into your church gatherings. Luke parables, though, they need to be grappled with, explored and questioned. If these short dramas encourage more people to look more closely into the problems of poverty, then the book has done its job.

When we start channeling the 'mighty power' that characterises the people of Christ to connect with God's compassion for people who live in poverty, there comes a realization: it's not just about joining with poor communities in their struggles; it's also about rejoicing with them as they overcome their circumstances. It's a journey of discovery as we realize that, for all our wealth and opportunities, we often have a poorer experience of God. We have much to learn from those who, materially, have so little.

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In this book Peter Shaw uses his bold and irreverent sense of humour to identify the global issues that affect us all. Through writing monologues, poems and sketches Peter has succeeded in creating an inspirational and fun tool to help us look at what can seem overwhelming and perhaps find some way to respond.
Steve Clifford, General Director, Evangelical Alliance

For many years, Peter has poured his energy, heart and creativity into bringing the stories of the poorest into our lives, homes and churches in fresh and vibrant ways. He is an authority not only on the issues that affect people living in poverty, but also on communicating these issues with power and imagination. Just as Jesus used parables to teach and illuminate, Peter brings us close to people living in poverty through 20 brilliant drama sketches. Each one encourages us to connect more closely, reflect more deeply and act more whole-heartedly. We're taken on journeys that lead us to embrace all our emotions: shock, anger, sadness, humour, joy and hope.
Matthew Frost, Chief Executive, Tearfund

Author info

Peter Shaw has an extensive background in drama both in and outside of church life. Currently Senior Publications Editor for Tearfund England, Peter edits and writes for Tearfund's flagship publication, Tear Times and Tearfund's Prayer Diary. Peter also writes drama sketches for Tearfund's church packs, as well as writing and producing Tearfund's annual Christmas church pack and appeal. He has a Masters Degree in Playwriting from Goldsmiths College, and has had a number of plays performed including a piece selected for the 2001 International Playwriting Festival at the Warehouse theatre in Croydon, and a romantic comedy, Love at First, which toured in Surrey and West London in 2002, and was revived for the 2003 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Peter is the author of Beyond the Cringe (Kevin Mayhew 2005) and All-age Sketches for the Christian Year (Barnabas 2006).


From Country Way - June to September 2013

99 expert engineers say that a bridge is unsafe, but one person who is totally unqualified says the bridge is safe. Sound familiar? Well that is what is happening about climate change.

Almost all scientists say we have a major problem, but a few sceptics with no scientific background at all manage to confuse the issue. That, in essence, is the message of one of Peter Shaw's twenty dramas in his book "Drama out of a Crisis". Peter is almost uniquely qualified to write this book as he edits Tear Times for Tearfund, and has a Masters degree in Playwriting. The short dramas cover a wide range of topics in the area of climate justice and environmental concern. So there are dramas on food security, sanitation, water, HIV/AIDS, malaria and more.

Each drama is carefully scripted to be performed easily with minimum preparation or props. There is also associated sermon outline material and Biblical background infomration. I could easily see these dramas being used in our church services. They would be particularly good in all-age or youth services. My only slight worry is that as the dramas are published under the "Barnabas for Children" imprint, and with four young children on the front cover, it could give the impression that they are suitable for primary age children. It is a great book, but most of the topics covered are more appropriate to teenagers and adults. I hope this slight confusion between cover and contents will not dent sales of this excellent resource.

Reviewed by Dr. Martin Hodson, Operations Manager for the John Ray Initiative

From New Wine Magazine - Autumn 2012

This is a collection of short sketches to help church groups engage with a broad range of justice and poverty issues. Such books are almost always a bit of a mixed bag and this is no exception.

Some of the pieces suffer from being too obviously vehicles for information transmission, while others are rather too preachy. However, there are several gems, such as Massive Earthquake and What If?, that would work straight off the page, as well as others that could be very powerful with a bit of tweaking. I found Deadlier than the Male, for example, very strong as an introduction to the themes around violence and abuse against women but would want to tweak a little.

It is a worthy attempt to offer in-roads into issues that very often church leaders struggle to open up.

Reviewed by Ashley Collishaw, Vicar of the Glenfall Church congregation in Cheltenham and a former professional actor.

From The Church Times - 30 November 2012

The subtitle of Drama out of a Crisis tells you exactly what it contains. The author, Peter Shaw, works for Tear Fund (which receives all the royalties), and has an MA in playwriting, which you can tell from the quality of the writing. Some of the sketches are laugh-out-loud funny, as they catch at your heart and soul.

An excellent book; but it is a pity that you can't download the scripts from a password-protected website in cluded in the cost of the book or CD. Ignore the ages of the per formers given on the cover: this is not a book just for children or young people: it is for the whole Church, and highly recommended.

Reviewed by The Revd Ronni Lamont

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857460059
  • Published: 22 June 2012
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 152
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