Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lights, Camera...

...to err is human, but to really fowl things up requires technology.

We arrived to a flurry of activity, and the director calling for her lime green scissors. Of course, they weren't found until after the play -- under all the flower bouquets. I headed straight for the kitchen to organize the refreshments that were being brought, and located a spare pair of scissors while in there.

More running, lots of activity, and lots of, "Do you have a bowl for these chips" and "Do you have something to serve this on?" Of course I did, and I arranged them all, too. Ah, the joys of being the cooking teacher. It means you're the only one who knows what's where in the kitchen. It also means you're the only one who knows how to set the ovens to warm, where to stash the cold stuff in those fridges, and how the cranky garbage disposer works. I guess I should think of it as job security.

Little Girl had disappeared into the back to get ready, and #2 Son was having a grand reunion with his friends, and meeting new kids who have joined the co-op since he's been gone. They had all heard about him, and Bernie stayed totally and completely away from him. That, trust me, is a good thing.

Costumed children ran around with excitement, and their brothers, sisters, and cousins egged them on. As the time drew nearer, I stood in the kitchen doorway where I could see the stage, and a few other things as well.

They had hung curtains so there would be an offstage area. From the center of the room, this worked well. From the angle at which I stood, you could see them leaving the offstage area and ducking into the back rooms when they needed to, giggling, pushing, and being typical kids.

Also from back there, I had the unique privilege of being among the baby brigade. The moms with small children stand back there with the kids, so they can make a quick exit when needed, into the kitchen to quiet a squalling little one. I armed myself with crackers and a few cookies, and stood prepared to pop them in the mouths of any who opened wide with intent to roar. It worked.

Everything grew quiet, they were about to start. The director made her speech, and cued the sound guy. The next thing we heard was the noise of Windows restarting. Oops. Technical difficulties. A few minutes later it was all put to right, and the first actors made their entrance.

We began with the poor, the lame, the elderly tottering in to sit in the city gate and complain about the taxes. The Romans, cruel oppressors, came in demanding people either pay up or become tax collectors themselves. One takes them up on the offer, and the rest get upset with him and exit, stage right, forgetting that they are supposed to be lame and elderly and such and skipping away.

Cue the angel chorus. They missed the cue. They came in. They had gotten mixed up in line and had to rearrange themselves. They sing beautifully, then sit for the next scenes, two of the littlest angels playing with the bows in each other's hair. They would miss their cue 3 times total, but it's all good. When they finally sing, they sing. You know they mean it.

A scene in which Isaiah the prophet tells what he knows about how this is all supposed to play out, and then in comes Mary for her encounter with the angel Gabriel. Little Girl got all of her lines, and actually acted, instead of pretending not to care what she was doing.

Now an encounter for Joseph with -- his best friend, who is trying to talk him out of his pre-wedding jitters. They ended the talk with Joseph agreeing to pray and then sleep on it, and high fived each other with a "Later, dude!" Only then did Joseph get to have his angel dream.

Next, Elizabeth, cousin of Mary, gives a monologue about her part in the story, and the birth of John the Baptist. The young lady who gave that speech is a fabulous little actress. Even knowing the story you wanted to hear what she was going to say next.

Mary, obviously pregnant (soccer ball under the costume) comes in with Joseph, and for the first time I noticed she is a good inch taller than he is. They talk about how they are going to get to Bethlehem, and the neighbors comment that they are crazy to be traveling with her so far along.

Off they go, though, stage left, with Joseph following his supposed beloved in a very lackadaisical fashion, as though not much concerned about what will happen next. There is a discussion between two men about how if they had known it was the Savior being born, they would have found them room. Mary and Joseph come back in and knock on each door, cleverly represented by actors in black clothing, who stand with hands up to repulse them, and refuse to allow them past. They finally get told to go into the stable out back, of course, and exit again.

Next up are the shepherds, one even carrying a (stuffed) sheep. The angel appears, and the angel chorus gives us another round. Mary and Joseph come back with the baby, a real, live baby. This is the one that behaves, she tells me. The shepherds ask to hold him, and Mary says, "Of course, he has come for all of us." A quick game of pass the baby, during which the child was miraculously not dropped, and all exit.

Meanwhile, groups of actors who have to come back in through the audience are running outside, around the building, to the other entrance. I am standing where I am not only tending stuff in the kitchen and plying babies with rocket fuel (sugar), I can see and hear the patter of little feet outside as they run past, squealing because it is so cold out there. Each time I go in the kitchen, I lean over to look in the foyer and tell them what a good job they are doing.

The dancers come in next, so the angel chorus has to exit, to give them room. They push and giggle their way off the stage, and the dance begins. Beautiful girls doing a ribbon dance, and one, bless her heart, was always one step or half a circle behind all the others. There's one in every dance class.

As the dancers leave the stage, to run outside and back into the other end of the building, you hear the crying begin. Yep, there he is, the little one who played "toddler Jesus". Kid was wailing before they even got to the stage, and Mary and Joseph had to lead him out. Little Girl had said he was annoying, and why they didn't use a child without separation anxiety I cannot understand for the life of me.

Cue the wise men. Then, the rest of the cast come forth to present gifts, too. Nothing phased him, until the girl who had played Elizabeth came up. That happened to be his own sister. She sat down between Mary and Joseph and took him in her lap, and instant quiet. I had thought about bringing him a cookie, like I did with the rest of the little ones, but this worked better.

So the play ends with Elizabeth, cousin of Mary, holding Jesus, because he didn't want his "mama". Curtain.

Of course, there are the bows, and the flowers, and the flurry of activity in the kitchen. The children in the audience were so famished they hardly waited for us to set up the tables. We rushed the food out as quickly as we could, and when it was all said and done, there were about half a dozen cookies left from 4 tables of snacks and goodies. The mini hot dog plate never even made it to the table.

Little Girl got back into her street clothes and came to the kitchen with lightning speed, asking what she could do to help. So she took over at the sink, washing the serving dishes. I couldn't get her to stop, she insisted. As I ran food out and brought empty dishes and bowls back in, she stood and washed. By the time people were ready to leave, all of the church kitchen items were back in place, and everyone's personal serving dishes and bowls were cleaned and on the counter ready to be claimed.

All in all, a good, fun evening, and great performances that we will reminisce about for years to come.

Today is:

Armed Forces Flag Day -- India

Día de las Velitas -- Columbia

Enlightenment Day -- Buddhist

Haloia of Demeter -- Ancient Roman Calendar

Hang a Wreath Day

International Civil Aviation Day

Letter Writing Day

National Cotton Candy Day

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day -- US

Quema del Diablo, Guatemala (burning of the devil)

St. Ambrose's Day

Spitak Remembrance Day -- Armenia

Anniversaries Today:

Delaware becomes the first US State, 1787

Birthdays Today:

Aaron Carter, 1987
Tino Martinez, 1967
C. Thomas Howell, 1966
Edd Hall, 1958
Larry Bird, 1956
Tom Waits, 1949
Johnny Bench, 1947
Harry Chapin, 1942
Ellen Burstyn, 1932
Ted Knight, 1923
Eli Wallach, 1915
Louis Prima, 1910

Today in History:

Marcus Tullius Cicero is assassinated, BC43
Chinese Emperor Lo-Yang makes notation of a supernova (MSH15-52), 185
Connecticut Route 108, one of the oldest highways in the US, is completed to Trumbull, 1696
The Royal Opera House opens at Covent Garden, London, 1732
Marquis de Lafayette attempts to enter the American military as a major general, 1776
The New York Philharmonic plays its first concert, 1842
Max Planck, in his house at Grunewald, on the outskirts of Berlin, discovers the law of black body emission, 1900
Leo Baekeland of Yonkers patents the first thermosetting plastic, Bakelite, 1911
The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, 1941
Prince Rainier III of Monaco revises the principality's constitution, devolving some of his power to advisory and legislative councils, 1962
The first ever general election on the basis of direct adult franchise is held in Pakistan for 313 National Assembly seats, 1970
The final Apollo mission is launched, and takes the photo now called The Blue Marble as they take off, 1972
Yasser Arafat recognizes the right of Israel to exist, 1988
The Galileo spacecraft arrives at Jupiter, a little more than six years after it was launched, 1995
The Recording Industry Association of America files a lawsuit against the Napster file-sharing client alleging copyright infringement, 1999
The Conservative Party of Canada is officially recognized after the merger of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, 2003


  1. Messymimi, it sounded like a warm, wonderful evening. The stuff of which wonderful memories are made.

  2. Little Girl is amazing.

    And you're an amazing woman... and mom. ((smile))

  3. Leah, it was, and I am grateful.

    PonyGirl, she hates compliments, but does so much that could be complimented if she would allow it. Sometimes she surprises me with her abilities.