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Laughter Is Sacred Space: The Not-so-Typical Journey of a Mennonite Actor Hardcover – September 14, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Herald Press (September 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0836195590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0836195590
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,147,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Laughter is Sacred Space is even funnier than Mennonite in a Little Black Dress—an authentic and profound snapshot of what it means to grow up and live Mennonite
-Howard Zehr
, professor of restorative justice, Eastern Mennonite University

Ted Swartz knows that if we can't laugh then the devil has already won...In the end we see life conquer death and love triumph over hatred.
-Shane Claiborne
, author, activist, and lover of Jesus

This avant-garde memoir is alive with merriment and anguish, anger and tenderness, the profane...and the profound. I laughed out loud and wept...sometimes simultaneously, which is the hallmark of a truly sacred story.
-Karla Yaconelli
, philanthropist and founding board member of the Wild Goose festival

There's a humor and non-threatening vulnerability in these pages which gives us permission to be vulnerable.
-Mike Patin
, Catholic speaker and trainer

Like practically half the Christian world, I saw Ted & Lee perform and thought they were smart and hilarious. In the pages of this book, Ted is vulnerable and honest again, only this time on purpose. If you jump in, I promise you'll be glad you did.
--Bart Campolo
, neighborhood minister and Middle East peace activist

About the Author

In 1992 Ted graduated from seminary and began a ministry that took him, not to a pulpit in a congregation, but to audiences across the U.S. and beyond. The first 20 years of this work included the creation of Ted & Lee TheaterWorks with Lee Eshleman and development of plays such as Armadillo Shorts, Fish-Eyes, Creation Chronicles, Live at Jacob's Ladder and DoveTale.
Since Lee's death in May, 2007, Ted has been writing and performing new plays with a number of other artists. Ted lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Along with writing and acting, his loves include his wife, Sue, three sons, Eliot, Ian, and Derek — and new daughter-in-laws, Katrina and Hannah; oh, and baseball.


More About the Author

Ted Swartz is a playwright and actor who has been mucking around in the worlds of the sacred and profane for over 20 years. Ted fell in love with acting and theater on his way to a traditional pastorate in the Mennonite church, a denomination not usually thought of as a hotbed of theatrical opportunities.

Coupling theater and seminary education, Ted became a theologian of a different sort. He discovered that at the intersection of humor and biblical story we often find new or different understandings of Scripture.

Ted's love of acting, comedy, and collaboration with creative partner Lee Eshleman took him to performances in 45 states in the US, Canada, as well as shows in Kenya and Japan. Ted & Lee became known for a quirky and gently askew view of life, building a loyal following.

Despite the tragic loss of Lee in 2007 Ted continued the search for the intersection of comedy and faith, grief and loss deepening that exploration.

He is the creator or co-creator of over a dozen plays, and continues to perform and write across the US and abroad.

In addition to acting in solo and multiple cast original shows, Ted is an accomplished speaker and teacher, melding theater and comedy with issues of creativity, theology and faith in a profound and engaging presentation.

Born in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, a 1989 graduate of Eastern Mennonite University and 1992 grad of Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Ted now lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Along with writing and acting, his loves include his wife, Sue, three sons, Eliot, Ian, and Derek --daughter-in-laws, Katrina, Hannah, and Chelsea--and newest addition, granddaughter Mona Quinn.

To learn more about Ted, visit http://www.tedandcompany.com/

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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"Laughter Is Sacred Space" is the story of Ted's life including acting and the devastating loss of Lee.
drebbles
I recommend this book to anyone who would like to read an honest "this is who I am and how I got here" story.
Rob Slaven
It was a book I couldn't put down and one I of the few books I have ever read cover to cover in one day.
Rich Troyer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amy Yoder McGloughlin on September 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Ted Swartz, a first time book author, is not unaccustomed to writing. He has simply transferred his skills from the stage to the page.

I read the book in one sitting. I was fascinated by Ted's life. It's not a glamorous life--he did not paint his family life and life on the road as idyllic, but as real, thoughtful, and very human. Ted wove his work--his characters and sketches, written with and without Lee--into his writing. It was a reminder that our life and work all intersect, sometimes more personally than we like.

In Laughter is Sacred Space, Ted opens up about his relationship with former acting and business partner, Lee Eshelman. Ted and Lee's relationship seemed as much like a brother or marriage partner as it did a business and acting partner. It was a beautiful, fraught relationship, full of things left unsaid. I could relate to this relationship--pieces of it look like my marriage, my sibling relationship, and the dynamics with my closest friends.

As I read the book, I could hear Ted's voice, his inflections, even his laugh come through. It was like reading a book of David Sedaris' short stories--they are good, even if you don't know what his voice sounds like, but knowing the author's voice enhances the experience.

The chapters were short, reflecting Ted's self-described personality, temperament, and ADD tendencies. Because of these short chapters, the reader is left to wonder what the point is. But, just like Ted's sketch comedy, the pieces come together. What you think is superfluous become essential and pivotal information later.

I did have a few issues with the book. First, the publisher (I assume) bleeped out the curse words, creating a puritanical feel.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By B. Wideman on September 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
My wife and I read this book just days after the funeral for our stillborn daughter. It turned out to be an incredible blessing during this time of sadness and grief.

I found myself totally wrapped up with Ted Swartz's ability to write in such an authentic way. He brings his reader in to some of the most vulnerable moments of his life, and my wife and I worked through our own grief and loss, it was incredibly cathartic.

It took me only a few days to finish reading, and I just needed to extend my thanks to the author.

Thank you for inviting us to experience your pain and joy. Thank you for illuminating subjects and moments that are often left in the darkness. Thank you for creating something that people can resonate with in deep and meaningful ways.

It means a lot.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Martin on September 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Back at the beginning of August, I saw posted on the Ted & Co TheatreWorks FaceBook page an opportunity to get a free book. Nerd and bookworm that I was, I posted the necessary comment to get my free brain candy. Here is what I said in response to the query "tell us why laughter is sacred".

"Laughter is sacred in that it is the truest expression of joy. Laughter can happen in good times and in bad. And in those bad times, it is laughter that brings release to enjoy where you are in spite of the pain. Being able to laugh in those times expresses to the rest of the world that God's love and power brings joy to the hurting. Without laughter to liven the pained spirit, all we have left are tears."

Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

The book, Laughter Is Sacred Space is an autobiographical memoir of one Ted Swartz, walking his readers through his life from his time among a very conservative Mennonite community through his calling into some sort of ministry and into the struggles and trials of running a Christian comedy theatre company...and the darkness that somehow always seems to follow humanity wherever we go.

Swartz's primary medium for writing is in the form of scripts and dialogues for skits and sketches. So, he keeps to what he knows and writes this book in a series of 5 Acts with a prologue (is this a nod to N.T. Wright's 5 Act play of the story of Scripture...or am I just too much of a Bible geek to let it slide?). The Prologue seems out of place at first. It seems a little too dark, too gloomy at points, a little poignant, and certainly, while funny at points, doesn't seem to really be talking about laughter. But it's necessary. It sets the target for the rest of the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By drebbles TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Raised as a Mennonite, Ted Swartz thought his profession would be in ministry. Instead he found himself drawn to acting and comedy and formed an acting duo with Lee Eshleman. "Laughter Is Sacred Space" is the story of Ted's life including acting and the devastating loss of Lee.

"Laughter Is Sacred Space" is the very funny autobiography of an actor who just happens to be Mennonite. True to his showbiz roots Swartz writes the book almost as a screenplay dividing the book into sections: classic narrative; imagined or remembered dialogue; dialogue from play or sketch; letters or journal entries; asides (footnotes); photos. The book is broken into five acts (including prologues): Act I - Exposition; Act II - Rising Action; Act III - Climax; Act IV - Falling Action; Act V - Dénouement. The book is also filled with illustrations by Lee Eshleman. All of this works much better than I expected and the book is very funny. While his Mennonite background is clearly a factor in his life, this book is really about Swartz's career and is very interesting. He struggled with his career decision but clearly made the right one. He includes some of his skits in the book - they are very funny to read and I can only imagine how funny they'd be seeing them in person. While he seems very happy with his career he is also honest about the downfalls - his snippets of performances gone wrong are very funny. Although there is a lot of humor in the book, the suicide of Lee Eshleman is felt throughout - especially at the end. It is obvious what a huge loss his death was and my heart ached while reading about it. I had never heard of the act Ted and Lee before reading this book and I'm sorry I'll never get to see them perform live.
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