Here it is.
Crap, I think I hyped this post up so much that it might be a bit of a let down.
The Christmas play is done. The actors have gone home, the sets have been torn down, and the cast party food has been eaten. The director has shut off the lights in the auditorium, the stage crew has swept up, and the stage manager has set her script on fire and started dancing around it naked while howling Native American tribal chants at the moon. All this was done with hugs, sighs, and ceremony. We will miss some of it, but once we remember what sleep feels like every tender feeling we had towards the Christmas play will probably melt with the Floridian frost.
Anyway, let’s start from the beginning. Or opening night:
As most of you know, opening night was the first night we had the entire cast there to run through the play. This in itself was enough to get my nerves running a 50 meter dash, but we’ll get back to that later. Since I work 45 minutes away, I didn’t have the chance to leave the stresses of my day behind and then pick up the mantle of stage managing. I raced from a hectic day at work to an equally hectic evening at Church. Costumes needed to be pinned, make-up needed to be
coated applied on people, mics needed to be checked, and props needed to be put in the right place so that a wise man wouldn’t walk on stage myrrh-less. Thankfully, Rachel, the director took care of a lot of these tasks so my main job was to make sure that the cast was ready and in places on time.
This is what I sounded like on opening night:
“Are you getting into costume? You should really be in costume. Take off your pants! Shepherds didn’t wear Lucky Brand! Your jewelry needs to come off. YOU HAVE TEN MINUTES TO GET READY!! You need more make-up. No eating in your costume! You’re making too much noise! Take the name tag off your costume. Could you do something about your hair? Seriously. YOU HAVE FIVE MINUTES TO GET READY!”
This is what I sounded like to the cast:
“Nag. Nag, nag, nag, nag, costume. Nag, nag, nag, nag….MINUTES! Nag, nag, nag, insult, insult. Nag! Nag, nag, naggity! NAGGITY! NAG! NAG! NAG!”
Time passed fairly quickly and before I knew it we were in places. Rachel would be sitting in the lighting/ sound booth calling the show while I would be back stage telling people when to get in places and enter. We got nifty head sets which sent us both back to childhood and forced us to call each other for the most asinine things:
“Jesus loves you.”
“I know, Gyasi.”
The novelty soon wore off and the show began. The first sound cue went off without a hitch and soon I was calling the first actor to go out on stage. She did beautifully. Next, I was calling the second actor out. He remembered all of his lines. Then, the third and fourth actors went out. Same result. Soon the choir was singing the first song. It was in tune. Rachel called me on the head set, “Gyasi, I think we may have a show.”
I said, “That’s awesome. Praise the Lord.”
What I thought was, ‘WE STILL HAVE 40 MINUTES OF THIS THING TO GET THROUGH AND THERE ARE A HUNDRED THINGS THAT COULD GO WRONG!’
I didn’t want to quash her optimism so I kept that sentiment to myself.
As it turns out she was right. The only “problem” we had was my headset dying towards the end of the show (my bitterness probably killed it), but it wasn’t really a problem. It happened when there were no cues for any of the actors and all it needed was a new battery. Rachel didn’t even notice I was gone.
There were only fifteen more minutes in the show after that little mishap and those fifteen minutes were smooth. Everyone remembered their cues and I didn’t have to nag once. I left that night feeling really good about the show. I practically sang a song to woodland creatures that next morning I was so happy. I went ice skating with Hannah and didn’t fall once. I found a copy of the British edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when we went thrifting. I got wonderful Chinese food for dinner. I was riding a high that even marijuana couldn’t have rivaled. I was feeling good.
Then Sunday evening happened.
This is why I never let my pessimism get lazy. I shouldn’t have let it take a day off. If I had been my normal, disagreeable, Oscar the Grouch self this wouldn’t have happened.
Still riding my “It’s all good! It’s all great! Let’s do the show and celebrate!” high, I figured that the second night would be an even more perfect version of the first. To add to our efficiency, Rachel and I got walkie talkies that night so that we could talk to each other pre-show before putting our headsets on. This caused us to say “copy” and “ten for” alot.
“Jesus loves you.”
I have no idea what “ten for” means.
Once the show was underway, every single trepidation I had previously went away. I thought that perhaps I had overreacted. Maybe I had been too hard on the cast. They seemed to know what they were doing. They were on point for every cue, knew exactly what they had to do on stage, and kept noise to a minimum backstage. Could it be that they were, dare I say it, competent? Perhaps they didn’t need to be treated like children with ADD. Perhaps I could be gentle and…kind with them?
Just as these thoughts were frolicking in my head Rachel called me on the headset and yelled, “Why are the wisemen’s attendants exiting!” I took a shotgun, massacred those pleasant thoughts I was thinking, and took off running towards the stage door. When I was in the auditorium, I saw two young boys standing in the back looking thoroughly perplexed. To make it even worse they were holding a huge bedazzled purple flag which moved whenever they did to signal the fact that they were confused. On stage, their father, the wiseman they were supposed to be attending before they went rogue, looked mortified. The rest of the nativity looked embarrassed. Ariel looked like her ribs might crack from the pressure of having to hold in her laughter.
Before I was able to grab those boys by the collar and hurl them back onstage, they took off running as though Satan were chasing them. Once they were back onstage, I hurried back to my position backstage and started fuming. I probably could have set the entire church on fire with my rage. I could visualize myself standing in an inferno laughing maniacally while the churchgoers ran for their lives. I was that pissed.
When the nativity ended and the actors came backstage I was ready to let loose. My wrath would be felt by all, young and old. No one would escape the fury that was me. I was preparing witty insults in my head that were clever and cerebral. There were pop culture reference insults, literature based ones, and one or two that had to do with the current political issues. I was readying my arsenal when the wiseman in question came over to me with the saddest look on his face.
Here’s what was goinng on in my head:
“Oh this man isn’t gonna know what hit him. Ready! Aim! Fi-”
“Actually, it’s Jesus.”
“Oh hi! How are you doing?”
“Put the insults down.”
“I’m sorry, come again?”
“Put the insults down.”
“But I don’t wanna! He deserves it! Did you see what happened out there!”
“I’m cool with it.”
“Does not compute.”
“I’m cool with it.”
“No, ‘buts’. If I’m ok with what happened out there then you should be too. Gyasi, this show isn’t about you.”
“Does not compute.”
“Oy vey. We’ll talk about it later, but for now, put the insults down and smile at the man. He’s had a hard day and he feels bad enough as it is without you making it worse.”
“But my insults were so witty…”
“I know, you can tell me them later and I’ll laugh.”
So with much reluctance,
the Grinch’s my heart grew two sizes and I was something close to gracious that night. I think my main problem during this experience was a another case of me. The rest of the show was fine and at the end, the cast gave us flowers and gift bags (You tolerate me. You really tolerate me). They thanked Rachel and I for all the work we’d done. We had a full house and people were raving about how much they loved the show. My parents came and even they got a kick out of it. I got another dose of humility which will hopefully last throughout the new year.
All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas play.
Happy Birthday, Jesus.
Let’s meet at Starbucks so I can tell you about those insults I came up with.