Fiebig spent six months on sabbatical in New York City helping build a performing arts ministry for Calvary Baptist Church in midtown Manhattan, across 57th Street from Carnegie Hall. The ministry was aimed at supplementing & complementing worship, establishing a church-based producing theatre company, and building bridges between the church and performing artists.
Fiebig formed play reading groups at the church with an eye and an ear towards suitability for worship. He then introduced the use of cuttings from contemporary scripts, including: John Cariani’s “Almost Maine,” Mary Zimmerman’s “Metamorphoses,” and George Bernard Shaw’s “Saint Joan” as elements of worship.
Fiebig met Cariani following a production of “Almost, Maine” in Greenwich Village in early February. The two struck up a conversation and continued the dialogue via email. During one such exchange, Cariani said, “I love that you are working to develop a performing arts ministry at a church. That’s pretty thrilling. Church and theater have always been one and the same in my book.”
Cariani later consented to waive performance royalties and grant permission for Fiebig to incorporate individual scenes from “Almost, Maine” into worship at Calvary and again at nearby Metro Baptist Church in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
Fiebig wrapped up his time in NYC directing a production of Moliere’s “Tartuffe” for the church’s newly formed Calvary Theatre Guild featuring a mix of professional and aspiring young actors. The production exceeded expectations in attendance, production values, and critical acclaim.
Over four months, Fiebig met formally and informally with a number of professional actors, playwrights, and casting agents. These included Garreth Saxe, performing as Scar in Disney’s “Lion King” on Broadway, Samuel D. Hunter, playwright of “The Few” premiering in New York, and longtime friend and soap opera star Robert Newman (Josh from “The Guiding Light”), who was featured in the long-running Off-Broadway production of “Perfect Crime.”
When not attending shows, Fiebig could be found on a couple of occasions working as a non-union background actor. His two claims to fame are 1) having only one degree of separation from Kevin Bacon, appearing way in the background of the final episode of season two of “The Following,” depicting a hostage stand-off inside Saint Bart’s Episcopal Church, and 2) portraying a member of the paparazzi for a museum gala in the soon to be released “Night at the Museum III.”
Sabbatical semesters are designed for IWU faculty to retool, recharge and refresh their professional expertise for future teaching. Fiebig said all that happened and in some ways, he wasn’t ready to come back.
“I was able to put into practice many of the things I’d been teaching in the classroom. Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of my sabbatical was learning the ropes of producing a show in the NYC market,” he said.