Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Nativity Vol. III: Global Warming in Bethlehem

At dress rehearsal on Saturday, each cast had to be outside for 45 minutes in -20 weather. Naturally this was the day we all grossly underestimated the weather and came underdressed.

Sunday night was a bit better as we all had bundled up and looked like different coloured marshmallows. It was just as cold; I cupped my hands over my ears while I huddled on the angel stand to protect them from frost bite, but we survived. This was also the night that the heater in the cast trailer was broken.

Tuesday I came prepared just the same. Being the woman in the well has it's perks in that your costume has more layers and is made of thicker fabric. Furthermore, the heater was on in the cast trailer and it was +1. I hung out with the alpacas in between cues because I got too hot in the trailer.

Thursday I had no idea what to expect. Should I plan one less layer? It had been so hot on Tuesday, and it's too hard to shed a layer once your costume is on. What if it was cold again? better to be too warm than too cold. I am outside for several hours at night in December in Canada after all.

Yep. It was warm again. That was okay with me though, because now being established as the jack-of-all-trades in my cast, I had way more fun making things up as I went along when I was toasty warm.

On Sunday I was a white marshmallow with a dangerous trumpet. On Tuesday I was a purple one. Thursday I was a green marshmallow with no direction and making up my own role entirely as I was an extra townsperson.

Lucky for me, my good friend Lou was also added as an impromptu townswoman. Plus I got to keep my pitcher from Tuesday! For some reason, I really loved that thing.

Lou's brother and sister were also townspeople. They were referred to as Budgers because there job was to come on right as Mary and Joseph enter so they can cut in front of them for the tax line. Originally, Lou and I thought we would just do the same thing as them.

However, we both agreed that this did not sound like the most fun, and given the nature of Brant's directions, we took matters into our own hands. Woman at the well; the role I was on Tuesday - enters right at the beginning of the show. She is one of the first people on the stage. Lou and I decided we would enter from the same entrance a little later, walk slowly and converse, hang around the well, get water, pay taxes, talk to people, and then head off as the town clears. It was a brilliant plan, and we had a blast altering it every performance.

Do you know what is the most fun about ad libbing in a show where all the sound is on a recording that's blaring over you? You can actually talk. Marvin and I discovered this on Tuesday about halfway through, and made up a new identity for the tax man each show. Lou and I had even more fun, especially when we pretended to talk to Amanda and McKay; her siblings. I got in the habit of going up to Amanda and saying:

"Pencils! Aren't they the greatest when they are sharp?"

She would usually say: "I prefer HB. Or coloured pencils."

Then Lou would say she loved the colour purple, and we'd move on.

McKay would always poke fun of my pitcher, because it was actually made of wicker and I filled it at the well every time. It was only thing I was given solid direction on so of course that is what I did. Still, he made fun of me every time, and then I would smile and say:

"I went to the well and got a brimming pitcher of feta cheese."

We were so amused by these conversations. There is something so delightful about being ridiculous when you have an entire audience thinking you are being perfectly serious.

The conversation that takes the cake though took place with the Roman official. His job was to drag out everyone paying their taxes so the scene didn't move too fast. Usually he would ask us how many donkeys we had, if our house was being renovated, and tell us how much silver and gold we needed to pay him. He got just as bored as us though, and began to vary it.

On one such visit, Lou told him our home was being renovated. He said we owed him twenty pieces of gold and three pieces of silver. Lou kept up her habit of acting shocked and complaining about the high taxes, and he said:

"That's the way it is. It's the global warming."

We paid our taxes and wandered off stage discussing how silly we think Al Gore is. Once off stage, we both burst out laughing. Man I love being a townsperson.

Pageant is over now, and I will miss it. Despite the cold, the long hours into the night, the self-inflicted injuries, and repeating the same show over and over and over again, each show was a new experience. I'm so grateful for this opportunity I had to fulfill one of my childhood dreams and teach my city more about what Christmas is really about.


Kylie Groft said...

ELENA!! I saw you fill your wicker basket! I even thought to myself, "Why is that person trying to fill a wicker basket with water? Man, they must have a small budget this year to not be able to afford clay..." I am so glad that was you! :) You are awesome and I wish I could have taken part. I miss being an angel...

Katey said...

Well at least one of us got to live out that childhood dream. Sounds like you had a blast, I'm glad. It sounds as if the pageant has improved dramatically (no pun intended) since I saw it last-which was years ago.