Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Program: 0. Liza: 3.

For the past four years, I have been involved in our church's children's Christmas program.

For the past three years, I've been the director.
Christmas Program 2011

After my first year as director, I was ready to do it again since I had a lot of ideas and was ready to hit the ground running. Well, I procrastinated, and ended up scouring the internet at the last minute for a script. The program itself turned out really well, but the stress and craziness it cost me caused me to make the statement "I'm not doing this next year."
the unmatchable, unrepeatable, incredible Christmas Program 2012. *sniffles*

Guess who volunteered of their own free will to run the program this year?

Yup, yours truly.

If I thought last year was last minute, chaotic and stressful, I hadn't seen nuthin'. Most of my wonderful older actors from last year have moved away temporarily, as well as my assistant director. And we had new children who don't know the ropes. And there were over thirty children total this year. Well, well.

And, after ordering a script from Amazon, it didn't arrive until the second week of December. By that point, I'd had to scrap that idea and come up with a Plan B.

What was Plan B?

Liza writes a script.

I'm a theatre kid, this is what I love, so I stayed up till 3am writing a script one night. Cheers. I thought it was pretty good, good enough at least, and I gave the leads to my brother Michael and his partner-in-crime, Danny, who are both wonderful actors, improv-ers (if that's a word) and play off each other well. I figured they'd make whatever changes they wanted, and would carry the play well. I was right.

Then the rehearsals started - we had THREE. Just so you know, that's not a lot.

And one of them got snowed out.

Then the program itself got snowed out.

So then we moved the date forward three days, lost another rehearsal, and called a last minute practice one hour before the program. We still didn't get through everything. The result was the younger children (directed by my wonderful team of four fourteen-fifteen year olds) never got to practice their stuff on the stage at all, and my narrators (five nine-eleven year olds) never got to practice reading in front of the mic. Needless to say, I was a leetle skeptical about how in the world this show was going to get itself off the ground.

Christmas Program 2013

We pushed practice up until five minutes *after* the show was supposed to start, then finally cleared the stage. I turned to Kari and said, "at this point, whatever happens, happens!" And it did.

Surprisingly, hardly anyone forgot their lines, and the few that did were so funny it didn't matter. And the little kids were priceless in their nativity pageant. The narrators aced their readings, and the lights and sound team kept everything going.

For the first time, I got to see the little ones do their thing. I'd never watched them rehearse since I was always preoccupied with herding the older children around. I went up to Catherine and Kari afterwards and praised them, "That was so cute! Great job! I never got to see y'all practice, so that was fun." They just looked at each other, and Catherine replied, "Um, that's not what we practiced." Ha! Well, it was cute anyway.
notice the cowboy-shepherd to the far right *hehe* that kid makes me laugh.

I'm so very proud of the way Michael and Danny kept the show moving. They have incredible stage presence and maturity and I'm so glad they were on "my team." Caroline kept the girls' scenes running smoothly - she knew everyone's lines and was ready to cover anyone. Ethan and Daniel, my leaders of my amazing tech crew, knew their stuff inside and out and I didn't have to concern myself with anything in that regard. And I honestly don't know what I would've done without Kari, Catherine, Katherine and Rebekah leading and directing the 4 and 5 year olds part of the program. I was very blessed to have such a great "staff" during this super chaotic process!

So, I'm thankful it worked out - the audience was enthusiastic and very involved, which is always encouraging. And no matter how hard I am on them, I love these children like crazy and I think they're the cat's meow, so even if they're bouncing off the walls on a sugar high and making my hair stand on end, I'm in my element when I'm working with them.

Most of the time.

During our last rehearsal, I just about swore I was done with Christmas programs...but many times the past week I've caught mysef talking about "next year". *cough* Ahem.

All complications aside, I'll be the first to say it was definitely worth it. No strings attached.

If I've learned anything the past six months, it's that life isn't about me. Once you can get a grasp on that fact of life, it makes everything you do much less stressful because you aren't worried about how it will reflect on you, or whether you get something out it. Life becomes about others, and you get joy simply out of doing things you know will bless those around you. Easier said than done, yes, but it's a lesson worth learning and a lifestyle worth embracing. Even if it means becoming an amateur cat-herder for five weeks a year.

Who wants to bet that I'll be back at this again in twelve months?

1 comment:

  1. Oh,that would be so much fun to direct! A lot of work I'm sure,but I would to do that and take them to some nursing homes maybe!