Think You Know Thomas? I Doubt It.
Updated: Aug 14
The first thing I do when I’m cast in a part (or when my daughter or husband are cast) is comb through the script for my lines. The whole script is important for putting my character into the perspective of the greater story, but my lines, my scenes are what I use to build that character.
So when my husband-actor was cast as Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, I had a great excuse to go into Bible/character research mode!
By studying the stories of Thomas like an actor I found an example of passion and faith and that asking questions and voicing uncertainty is an okay thing to do.
Using a concordance (I like the Blue Letter Bible) I look up all the references to Thomas and find that he is mentioned by name 11 times. Five of those times he simply listed among the disciples. (BTW, as I’m scanning the list of verses I am making notes, Rapid Logging, in my bullet journal. Read more about how to do that here.
In the listing of verses I find that he is most often paired with Matthew the Tax Collector. I do not know if this has any significance, but I use an open signifier (for me it’s a triangle) so I can remember to research this later.
Thomas’ stories or scenes are found in John 11, 14, and 20. I scan them quickly to get a summary of what happens.
John 11 – Lazarus, a friend of Jesus and the disciples, dies.
John 14 – Part of the teaching during the last supper after Jesus washes their feet and predicts his betrayal. (I had to go back to chapter 13 to get the context of this scene)
John 20 – Jesus appears to the disciples after coming back from the dead. Thomas is not with them so when they tell him about it, asks for proof. The infamous “doubting Thomas” scene.
“I’d been conditioned to feel like [asking questions] was an incorrect and disobedient impulse. Because to ask meant to doubt and to doubt made you like that Thomas fella who always seemed characterized as the next-sketchiest disciple after Judas…” -- Knox McCoy, The Wondering Years
Next I would study each scene in depth to determine Thomas’ role. I’ll spare you the step by step explanation of the study, mostly because it will be covered in the book I’m writing, The Script Study (coming soon to a theatre near you!). You can also read the conclusion I came to last September at the Do Not Depart blog.
Compare his lines:
Reading this as an actor can you see the depth of feeling behind his words? Thomas is a challenger (probably an 8 on the enneagram, if you’re into that!). He is passionate, zero to sixty, all or nothing. He voices the questions I’d be afraid to ask.
The most important question an actor can ask is how does my character relate to the main events of the scene?
How does Thomas feel about Jesus? What does Thomas’ relationship with Jesus tell me about the character of God?
Through Thomas I see Jesus, patiently explaining, and proving over and over that he is who he said he is.
What do you see? Share in the comments or with #scriptstudy