Oh yes, The Nativity. If you thought you were going to get away without me blogging on this particular subject you were mistaken I'm afraid. Very mistaken. How could I miss a chance to discuss this venerable institute that is our offspring's first foray into performance art? It's a chance to wallow in parental pride as your little one delivers his or her lines with amazing aplomb and accuracy, neatly stepping on their mark, holding baby Jesus aloft (head up in most cases) and proclaiming just how well they have been raised with their acute diction and projection of voice. Oh how we weep, tender tears forming, along with the small knowing smile (hidden of course) as we see how ahead they are, advanced even, if I do say so myself.
It was Isla's nativity today, her first proper one - she was only two last year and understandably the teachers wanted to give the older ones a chance, being out shone by a two year old can be very difficult in the formative years. As Isla is our first child, and first grandchild on both sides, there was quite a scramble for tickets, luckily many of the other pre-schoolers were third, or even fourth, offspring so there were plenty of spare tickets to go around. Awash with tissues and expectant hope we sat front row (we'd camped outside the night before just to be sure) and surveyed the scene of hay bales, cardboard star and manger, the setting or our daughter's (our) triumph. We watched with awe as the children entered stage left, shyer than normal, blushingly self conscious and thrillingly excited as to their performance, each looking for their own parent/cheering team and waving brightly.
It turns out Isla was a tree. A tree. When I've made two (not one, two) cakes for every bake sale they've had, and not the easy loaf ones, but cakes with fillings, I've even run a couple of sales myself. I've sat on the committees (often bringing cakes for refreshment), walked children to harvest festival, supplied some of them with leeks or carrots for the offering, attended 'stay and play' and played my heart out with every child. A tree! At least a sheep says 'baa' (and even that was questionable with the poor boy they had allotted to this role). Even if she wasn't going to get a talking role, a tree? You're probably getting just about now that I was speechless. If they ever ask me in a court of law what I genuinely thought of the nativity I could only repeat the word tree, such was my confusion and despair.
Now I understand that not everyone can be Mary or an angel and that there are only so many female roles to give out, but there surely are much more creative ways to go about assigning non existent parts to the plethora of children. Perhaps Mary could be a shared role? Three Marys, one for each wise man, or many many angels who could each have a solo line in the rendition of 'Away in a Manger'. What got to me most was that one of the other girls played an oxen and had a line! Fair enough it was a gentle lowing, but really, a line is a line. Isla's great at lowing. She did play the tree well though, of the four trees Isla's really stood out. The way she held her arms as boughs, drooping gracefully would have made even Stanislavsky proud. This was method acting at its best. Even without a line she was able to make herself heard just by her very stage presence, that course of experiential workshops really paid off. Gradually I began to understand the message the teachers were trying to give me, she really is far too good to have a major role, let the others have their chance, there will be plenty for Isla on Broadway.
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