Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day Ninety-One: Witness to the Light (or something similar)

Last Friday was my church's Easter pageant, as I've mentioned before. It was, ya know, not exactly in the upper echelon of theatrical literature. Nor the middle echelon, actually. It was what it was, as these things often are.

Nevertheless, it was awesome. And now I'm gonna tell you why. ;-)

The program (which I believe was called "Witness to the Light," but as I rarely regarded the script, didn't get to a single rehearsal, and don't have a program, I'm not entirely sure about that) was far more epic in scale than the last Easter musical we did, More Than Just a Man, which was three years ago. You can say what you want about the new worship minister, but you can't call the man unambitious! This program featured a few songs and a LOT of monologues with quite a bit of pantomiming of Biblical sequences. Pretty par for the course for an Easter show. (No, no elephants on stage, but by Houston standards we're a pretty small church with little to no theatrical gusto)

This was a large-scale production run by amateurs. There were no seasoned actors in these roles, we had no theatrical carpenters putting together our tomb, our director's primary training came from a lifetime of telling folks what they ought to be doing.

And when you have that many people who don't really know the "right" way to do something like this, yet they come together to give one heck of a go of it anyway, it's always fun.

Sometimes you have to get outside the realm of professional artists to remember that art is fun. Don't misunderstand me, I love my job and I appreciate the professionalism we hold ourselves to (when we're holding ourselves to professionalism, that is), but when your director shouts back at you "Don't laugh! This is surgery!" during a rehearsal you sometimes lose a bit of the joy that comes from the fact that, at its core, theatre is fun.

So here we are, a company of fifty or so non-actors (many non-singers, too); we are youth, we are young marrieds, we are couples class, we are senior adults. We are teachers, scientists, lawyers, students, and financial advisers. (Oh, and then there's me, which is kinda funny, because I felt more like a guest artist than part of the cast, since I'd been in Phoenix rehearsals during every single Witness rehearsal and had just learned my speech the day before. For the record, I brought the house down. Kim said afterward that I should have warned the choir that my monologue was going to be funny, since none of them had ever heard it before) Then you add the dynamic of the audience: they're our friends, our family members, our church family. Friends and family always have an added level of enjoyment for a show, because they see not only the show, but also the people behind it. "Mr. Friendly Church Deacon Who Greets Everybody Every Week is a Roman soldier--and by gosh, he's good at it! I didn't know he could do that!" That sort of thing.

To a distinguished theatre crowd, it would probably have been too long, too slowly paced, too heavy. But there was no distinguished theatre crowd. There was just us. And cast, crew, and audience, we were one, and we enjoyed the undertaking together.

Like I say, it was awesome.

Happy Easter, all. (Though when most of you read this, it will be Monday, but I think they have Easter Monday in Canada, so pretend you're in Canada. And send me a post card while you're there)

UPDATE: Hockey playoffs start Wednesday!!! Guess what we'll be discussing at WannabeWordslinger for the next couple of days? ;-)