My Ministry: Performing arts company shines light in dark times

Patrice Patel, founder of performing arts company "Gobsmacked", is using her talents to share the message of Jesus with children and parents alike.

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A "Gobsmacked Productions" school performance.

For schools struggling to deliver a high-quality musical due to lack of time, money, resources or specialist teachers, Patrice Patel, founder of “Gobsmacked Productions”, has the answer.

“I’ve been running my performing arts business ‘Gobsmacked Productions’ for 6 years now in Tauranga (NZ) where I go into primary and intermediate schools and direct whole school musicals with over 400 students in a 5 week program,” she explains. “So far I’ve taught about 10,000 kids here in Tauranga!”

Recently, God impressed Ms Patel to start up a charitable arm of her business, so she started a free, two-day holiday program to teach children aged five to 16 more about God.

“I followed what God had placed on my heart and advertised to all my schools where I do biannual school musicals. Within three days the workshop was completely booked up,” she said.

On October 8 and 9, 145 children from the community—many of whom aren’t Christian—came to the holiday program at Tauranga Seventh-day Adventist Church, and were split into singing, dance, drama and poi (Maori performance art) workshops.

“I asked my old youth leaders from Palmerston North and my good friends who are all talented in the performing arts to volunteer to help me bring this dream to fruition,” she says.

In two days, everyone learned to sing “The Blessing” as a choir, led by Tracie Mafileo, Amy Korenhof and Carina Hereford on the piano. The drama and dance group learned a performance under the direction of Ms Patel, Chris Chapman, and Jasiah and Murray Jennings, which highlighted three major events in 2020: COVID-19, the Beirut explosion and the Black Rights Movement.

The whole group also learned a dance about how to shine light in the darkness of the world, led by Ms Patel, Leanne King (junior hip hop), Kimberly Brown (senior hip hop) and Mel Haller (glow poi and hoop).

Patrice Patel, company founder.

At the end of the two-day workshop, all the items were performed during a special program in front of parents and guests. In addition to the items and a praise and worship segment, Pastor Lance Boulton, NZPUC Adventist Tertiary Student Ministry director, delivered a message on having hope in the darkness.

“The theme was ‘Illuminate’, which was a fitting response to the events of 2020 and the need for finding hope in such dark times,” says Ms Patel. “In two days these kids learned drama, dance and songs to perform to a church filled with their parents and friends, communicating to them that hope can only be found in God.”

In addition to the workshop, next year Ms Patel will begin a “Gobsmacked Ministries” program every Tuesday night from 6pm to 8pm for children aged 10 to 17. So far, the program has been met with great enthusiasm.

“I had so many kids sign up to be a part of this ministry, and I’ve had parents emailing asking if their children can join,” she explains. “In this time I am hoping to produce music videos, concerts and mini musicals that can be performed in our community, on Hope Channel and other Christian television stations.”

Having started out writing musicals from scratch as a director of performing arts in Cairo (Egypt), Ms Patel says she believes Gobsmacked is a God-given vocation where He gives her the energy, creativity and the right people in her life in order to produce high-quality musicals.

“One of my best friends, Melanie Schubert, who I met at Avondale College, would edit my scripts and then when I started my company she became the official Gobsmacked Productions script writer. I found my music producer online, after he produced my very first Gobsmacked song, totally grasping my vision and producing the most amazing song, and six months later I found out he was a Seventh-day Adventist after he apologised for one of his songs being late because it was his Sabbath. He has now produced over 120 songs for Gobsmacked Productions for my 11 musicals,” she says.

“What started as a dream and vision for myself with my performing arts company, turned into a reality beyond my expectations! Although this year has been filled with darkness, last week was a testimony to God’s desire to shine in these times. He is ready to use these times of adversity to do something new.”

To check out what the kids achieved in two days and ministered to their family and friends through the performing arts, go to www.gobsmacked.nz. Or if you’d like to donate to the ministry, you can email patrice@gobsmacked.nz.