Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Twenty-Eight: Awkward Nun Moment

Today, we did a performance of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe for the CHRISTUS Foundation for Health Care's annual children's Christmas event. This is the third year in a row we've performed for this group (the last two years were two of my scripts, Why the Bells Chimed and Do You Hear What I Hear?) Every year, the event is held in the same place: the Villa de Matel convent, home of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. The Sisters are a group of predominantly Irish nuns who, 43 years ago, felt a call to come to Galveston (and eventually to Houston) and plant a convent as a mission outreach to the locals. Pretty cool.

These nuns are super-sweet and super-friendly, and every time a few of them catch our performance they always thank us for coming and tell us how wonderful we were, etc. Today, during the performance, I noticed a very high concentration of nuns just off to the right of the playing space, smiling with their hands folded in front of them and thoroughly enjoying the show. Cool, I think. After awhile, though, I guess they got tired of standing off to the side and decided to step into the audience and personally greet their guests. Now, the audience was sitting in round tables that filled the room pretty much completely, and all the commotion of little kids (and babies, in some instances) sitting around tables was making it tough to hear the show in the first place. Add to that half a dozen or so nuns striking up conversation with the parents and, well...I was actually having trouble hearing Leah at times. Plus, the sweet Sisters decided to start at the FRONT and work their way back, so they suddenly came to the table that was front and center and stood by it for about five minutes, talking to the adults seated there.

Any wonder most of the kids left their tables and just sat on the floor directly in front of us?

But whatever, right? This is always a quirky booking with lots of distractions, and I warned the team of that going in. We kept going, and eventually the nuns got through everybody and there was no further nunterruption. (Cool moment, by the way: the only moment in the entire performance where the place fully quieted down was the scene where Aslan dies for Edmund. You could briefly hear a pin drop. Only not, because the floor was carpeted. But you know what I mean)

Then, after the show, we exit the playing space, like always, and then jog back out for our curtain call, like always. We bow, and as soon as we straighten up and prepare to acknowledge Hatcher, our sound tech extraordinaire/professional echo voiceover, there is a sister standing a foot and a half from us with a camera pointed at our face. She's standing right on the playing space, and people are still applauding and cheering, and there's just this flash. She was saying something, but she was speaking in that sweet, soft-spoken manner I usually hear from most of the Sisters I've spoken with, so I couldn't hear a danged word of it. I did read the word "wonderful" on her lips before she snapped another picture. By the time she was done, applause was kind of waning, and the curtain call had already been longer than usual, even if we had only actually bowed once, so rather than take our usual course of action (acknowledge the sound guy, then bow again, then leave) and drag the audience through that painfully awkward time where they're ready to be done clapping, but the actors are still bowing (see my post on The Nutcracker a couple of days back), I turned to leave. At that point, I saw Leah giving Hatcher a half-hearted acknowledgment, then we went backstage.

But it got better, because immediately after our show, there was a trained dog demonstration, so we had to strike immediately. So we go back behind our backdrop and then immediately reappear and move the entire thing offstage and down the hallway before we can collapse it, past the audience, past the buffet, past the face-painting clown (another annual staple of this shindig) and against the wall back by our green room (where Santa was changing, naturally).

Really, nothing bad happened. But when a nun materializes in front of you mid-bow, and then you find yourself striking past a buffet so some dogs and jump some fences and you run into a half-dressed Santa, you hit this moment where you start to wonder if what you're currently experiencing is actually happening, or whether you ate some bad meat or something and are actually asleep, dreaming the improbable dream.

I'm so glad I don't have a boring job.