Artist bio

MARK STODDARD has a passion for creative storytelling, building community through the arts and mentoring artistic leaders. He has over 30 years of experience as a professional actor, theater director, script writer, video producer and arts educator. Mark has an MA in Educational Theater from New York University, and has taught all aspects of theater for colleges, high schools, conferences, workshops, and numerous summer camp programs. He serves as the Drama and Theater Director at Dream City Church in Phoenix, AZ - where he writes, directs and performs in original sketches, plays, musicals, short films and produces ‘Celebration of Christmas’ – one of the largest holiday shows in the country, and Broadway musicals including Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, Little Mermaid, Annie and more. He has directed over 300 plays, musicals and original productions in the Phoenix area and has multiple ‘Ari-Zoni Awards’ for theater excellence. Mark’s family is heavily involved in the arts – his wife Rachel is an accomplished choral conductor and runs a successful private voice studio. Oldest son, Philip, is an alumni of The Juilliard School with an MFA in Acting; Stephen is an accomplished acapella group singer and vocal percussionist; Zachary is a choral music education major at Northern AZ University and president of the choral union. Their doggies (Jeter and Nugget) love music too!


Double Edge Swords



Artist Statement

This drama has been performed at numerous conferences and worship service settings. I wrote it many years ago in an effort to communicate the vanity of petty differences amongst people of different ‘flavors’ of the Christian faith – and getting distracted from the real battle.

How it fits into contest

The scene is based on Eph 6:12 - For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

The ending verse is: 1 John 4:20 - If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?


Writer/Director: Mark Stoddard
Actors: Mark Stoddard, Natalie McKnight
Ending Voice Over talent: Rachelle Swartzentruber
Theatrical lighting: Austin Hudak
Theatrical Sound: Jordan Hurt
Performance video director: Dennis Herzog

How to Purchase this Artwork

The script ($15) and performance video ($5) can be purchased at:

They will be sent via digital transfer.

Other Goods & Services Available from this Artist

Mark Stoddard (writer/director) is available for direct script writing commissions, free lance directing, workshops (live or video) in almost all aspects of theater (acting, directing, producing, writing, creative collaboration, leading an arts organization, etc.)
Contact the artist at:

Transcript / Lyrics

(MARK - a snooty, polished Lutheran and NATALIE - a rough and tumble Pentecostal come running and yelling on stage, swords in hand, fighting off a host of invisible attackers, then meet back to back center stage and quickly spin around to each other…)

MARK: (spinning around on guard) What are you doing?
NATALIE: I’m fighting off the Devil. (suspiciously) Who are you?
MARK: Relax, relax - I too am fighting the enemy. (initiates a ritualistic handshake, NATALIE recognizes it, relaxes and responds) So, how goes the battle, brother? Uh, sister?
NATALIE: Good, good. How ‘bout you?
MARK: Very well. (NATALIE hacks away an attacker downstage, then licks off the blade) I couldn’t help noticing how well you handle that sword. (they both face away to watch guard)
NATALIE: Yup – comes with practice. You know what they say.
MARK: I certainly do… (double take) Actually no, what do they say?
NATALIE: (turning to him) “Our battle is not against flesh and blood. But against the spiritual forces… (they meet center stage)
BOTH: …of wickedness in heavenly places”
NATALIE: Watch out! (grabs MARK and pulls past him to thrust into an enemy)
MARK: Good heavens, that was close. Not bad for a woman. I must admit, that enemy is quite devious.
NATALIE: Yeah, he’s sneaky too.
MARK: Right.
NATALIE: That Devil is just waiting for you to drop your guard. (they meet center)
MARK: Duck m’lady! (in slow motion, he lunges and NATALIE drops and rolls SR)
NATALIE: Nice lunge. Not bad for a dude. Thanks.
MARK: My pleasure (giving a formal bow - then they both quickly jump back on guard and circle back to back) Say, I haven’t seen you around these parts before. What church do you attend?
NATALIE: I go to the only real cutting edge church in town – Riverside Pentecostal. (hack, hack) The worship is lit!
MARK: Oh, I see you’re a charis-maniac, huh? I am a Lutheran, myself. (a refined lunge)
NATALIE: A Lutheran?! I didn’t think you guys even knew there was an enemy.
MARK: And where did you hear that?
NATALIE: (walking center) Everybody knows you stiffs are clueless about warfare.
MARK: Hah. How typical for a Pentecostal to assume that they’re the only ones who know anything about God. (they lunge past eachother)
NATALIE: (on guard) Lutherans don’t believe in speaking in tongues and frankly your music is bor-ing!
MARK: (turning quickly) Our music is cultured! Perhaps you should adhere to some traditions, instead of being swept about by every wind of doctrine. What is it this week? Hipster worship or barking in the spirit?
NATALIE: (walks to him) Listen pal. At least we believe the full gospel. You just ignore the parts of the Bible you don’t understand. (a face off – she taps MARK’s sword away)
MARK: (slowly brings foil toward her) We choose to be seeker-sensitive. (he preps for in position) Touche.
NATALIE: (knocks his foil away) Your services are like funerals!
MARK: (lunges at NATALIE, she dodges) And yours are so disorderly. (lunges at NATALIE, she dodges) It’s a wonder you ever get any visitors at your church. (they lock swords)
NATALIE: At least were soulwinners and not soulwhiners!
MARK: Soulwinners? How’s that?
NATALIE: We bus people in off the street. How do you win the lost?
MARK: We relate to them - through theater arts. (they give a cheezy take to the audience)
NATALIE: Christian theater? There’s no such thing!
MARK: (pushes her away) You uncultured swine! (lunges at her, she spins past)
NATALIE: You don’t raise your hands in church! (hacks at him, he blocks) You don’t pray for healing! (hacks at him, he blocks) And you take too much communion! (overhead hack, he blocks)
(MARK kicks NATALIE away, she stumbles, losing her sword)
MARK: You always think you’re right! (points sword at NATALIE and runs at her) And you’re always doing kooky things! (NATALIE parries his lunge and MARK’s sword flies out of his hand)
(She picks up her sword, as MARK backs away frightened)
NATALIE: (rises slowly for the kill) Who’s kooky now, you stuck-up know-it-all.
MARK: (in honest horror) Stop. Watch out behind you! (backing away)
NATALIE: That’s the oldest trick in the book. I ain’t that stupid… (advancing on MARK)
MARK: No really! Right behind you! Be careful…
(NATALIE is stabbed from behind and drops to her knees – then falls face down…dead. Then in anger MARK picks up her sword and hacks away at the attacker. He then looks back at NATALIE’s body and drops the sword)
MARK: Dear God… What have we done?
(Suddenly MARK is stabbed too from behind. As their dead bodies lie on the floor bathed in red light, we hear…)

V.O. (1 John 4:20) If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
(slow blackout)

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