Taking the Scenic Route

Christmas Pageant Awesome-ness

7th December 2010

Christmas Pageant Awesome-ness

The kid’s Christmas Pageant was great. Zane was “Wise Person #2″ and had lines, Zora was “Angel Chorus” and just stood there looking cute in her crooked halo.

The pageant was called “Backwards Christmas Pageant” and was a “play within a play” type thing.  The plot:  a group of kids are putting on a Christmas pageant and one of the Wise People has to leave early for a soccer game.  Since his part isn’t until the third act, they do the play backwards, so the Wise People go first, then the shepherds & angels, then the whole Elizabeth/Mary get pregnant & angels.  They all gather at the manger in the Epilogue.

Our first victory was to get Zane to stop saying “And then I say…” before each line.  Then we had to get him to understand that it was not the time to replace words for comic effect.  He got a kick out of the script and got the giggles, even when we were just running lines, especially the part where the Wise People show the gifts they are taking:

WP#1:  Gold

WP#2(Zane): Frankincense

WP#3:  Myrrh (but holds up a soccer ball instead, then corrects it with the right prop).

He thought that was so funny.  Apparently he still thought it was funny during rehearsals and would still be giggling 10 minutes after the exchange.

He was also greatly amused at the lines about a “Herd of Sheep”, where his next line was “Of course we’ve heard of sheep”, followed by a herd/flock exchange.

He actually had all of his lines memorized, but carried the script on stage with him (a  lot of the kids weren’t off scripts, so it wasn’t a big deal to carry it on stage).  He did a decent job of following the blocking, and didn’t stim as much as I thought he might.  (he did rock back and forth, but he was grinning ear to ear and obviously paying attention, just made him a blur for photos most of the time.)  The best part was that he so obviously was having a ball, grinning happily and very “in the moment” through it.

Zora did a good job too, but she was upset that she had no lines and that it was “boring” having to wait backstage.  She looked so adorable in her costume and did a good job of following the blocking.  You could hear her singing (they had mics set up backstage so that all the kids could contribute to singing the songs), so I know she was doing a good job of paying attention and participating.

Some pictures from dress rehearsal

Waiting backstage (unseen from audience)

The production:

We didn’t get a picture of the ending, but we wish we would have gotten video.  Instead of being nearer to the edge of the stage, like he was in rehearsal, he ended up next to the manger.  As they sang the last medley/finale, he opened up his box of Frankincense and”grabbed” stuff out of the (empty) box and, to the beat, “threw” it into Jesus’ manger.  As the song finished up, he upturned the box and shook it out, as if to make sure all of the contents were given to baby Jesus.  :laughn2:  It was hysterical.  (and a big deal to us, when we weren’t sure if he would ever do “pretend play”, to see him pantomime this with total spontaneity and showing a sense of humor)

I do have to give props to all the kids in the church.   I am so impressed by them and how generously they help my kids.  They treat them respectfully and are just very sweet.  There isn’t a bad attitude in the bunch.  The older kids all help the younger ones and make ventures such as these enjoyable.  I also appreciate the adults who do such a great job of including Zane and giving him the best chance of success.

posted in Autistic Life, Christmas, Giggle, On Stage, The Kids, Zane, Zora | Comments Off

22nd October 2010

No Cross, No Crown

I took a terrifying leap and got back into theatre after a twenty year absence.

From a blurb I found online:

You know Karen Robu from her theatre work in Wichita since 1993. She now presents her first written play about the life of Antoinette Brown Blackwell, first female ordained minister in the United States and a Suffragist who encounters other historical figures such as Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Fredrick Douglass as she fights not only for the right for women to vote, but for the right for a woman to stand in the pulpit. A wonderful time for this play to be presented since this year is the 90th anniversary of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.

I played a very minor role, Ernestine Rose, a feminist, atheist and orator.  It took me a bit to get my footing on the role, and I realized how out of practice I was at the craft, but I did finally get t0 the point that I wasn’t humiliated at the performance.  I wish the run would have been longer because I never got to that magical point in front of an audience that I was just beginning to achieve in front of the mirror at home. I know the next time I do it, I should be at that point before I get in front of the audience.   But, at least I wasn’t mortified at my performance, and that was a real possibility at some points along the way, especially as I was struggling with the accent.  I had to lip sync some of the music because I am a contra-alto/tenor and, in an all-woman’s chorus, with everybody else being a professional singer except for me, my voice wasn’t going to blend in the higher ranges.  In the songs where they just wanted it belted out (like when we were “marching”), non-perfect voices was the aim, so I could contribute heartily in those songs.

It was so good for me to do this.  It was sheer terror at times, especially when the music rehearsals started and I realized the level of the musicians, and, despite being held in a church, most of the actors where professionals, and it is a good thing I didn’t have access to their bios before I started, because I would have been even more intimidated than I already was.

In the end, it was an awesome experience, and re-awoke my passion for the stage.  I should have been doing this all along and can’t imagine why I haven’t been.  It fills a place in my soul that I didn’t realize was empty.  And next time will be easier and better because I finally figured out *how* to do it again.  (how to memorize, how to analyze the character, how to find my rhythm). I wasn’t, by any means, the best actor on the stage, not even close, but I felt like I was able to hold my own.  It was an absolute honor to be able to perform in such awesome company.

It was also fun to be in costume again.  And yes, that is my real hair.  My real hair, in a seriously unflattering style, with a ton of product making it feel like Barbie doll hair.

After the show, Zora (who had been downstairs in the nursery) was fascinated with the costume.  It was a very hot and heavy dress, made out of upholstery material, even the fringe was upholstery-like.  There were copious “Scarlett O’Hara” comments.  Unlike most stage costumes, this one was NOT designed for quick changes.  I think it took almost as long to get on as my wedding dress did.  I did discover that hoops are much more comfortable than crinolines though, and much quieter, as long as you don’t sit wrong and flip the whole skirt up into your face.  lol.   Learning to walk so I am not swinging like a bell was a trick too, especially since it was easier for me to wear heels than to shorten the costume.

After the show Zach told me that during the intermission the people in front of him pulled out their program, looking specifically for my character.  Upon reading the bio again, they commented to each other that “it was amazing that they found a Polish actor here in Wichita”.  I guess I nailed the accent.  Yay me.

posted in Me, On Stage | Comments Off

27th June 2010

Singing in church

Videos of the three songs the kids did with the children’s choir in church this morning.  Zora was belting the songs out at home, but got shy in front of the crowd.  I have a feeling that will go away soon though, given her personality.

Forgive the camera work…I was trying to watch it live while shooting the video with my camera, and that doesn’t always work well.

Meet Me on the Mountain

Obey My Voice

Come Walk With Us

Both of them are less than seasoned performers, to say the least, but I am so glad they are getting the experience. It drives me a little crazy that my two are the wiggliest ones up there though, but I should expect it given their genes. :love2:

posted in Autistic Life, Church, On Stage, Zane, Zora | Comments Off

14th December 2008

Christmas Pagent

The Christmas Pagent at Church was after the worship service this Sunday. My parents and brother all came up to go to the church service (we were having an orchestra and choral music “Moods of Christmas” thing…our church has a lot of professional musicians and it is just spectacular when they do stuff like this) and to watch the kids at their first ever Christmas Pagent.

Honestly, my kids were the most challenging; Zora because she was the youngest (and pretty spirited too), and Zane because it was chaotic and difficult for him. However, both of them made it through with no meltdowns and I am happy that they were able to participate. I was really impressed by the other kids who helped my kids out so much by taking their hands and helping direct them when they couldn’t figure out their cues very well. I really like this group of kids a lot and am continually impressed with their maturity and acceptance.

They were absolutely adorable in their costumes. Somehow the scrape on Zora’s chin just seemed to add to the ironic charm of her costume.

Gathering around for “Away in the Manger”. In rehearsal that morning Zora was quite upset when they took away baby Jesus to reset the scene and wanted to know “Where Baby Jesus?” over and over.

After this scene is when they are supposed to line back up, ready to sing “Joy to the World” and “Christmas Truth”, but this is where my pair went off script. Zora wouldn’t leave baby Jesus and was in the back, guarding the manger, and Zane’s headpiece came undone, and he tried to get it back on his head but couldn’t get the headband on it and it kept falling off his head (looked like a dinner napkin on his head at this point). This disoriented him and he started walking across the stage, up to the second microphone, and was just starting to talk into the microphone as I reached him, took his headpiece and told him to “go back to your x” in his ear (we had an “x” marked on the stage where he was supposed to stand). He did (thank goodness), and the play ended just fine (the leads were focused enough that they didn’t seem affected by Zane’s detour)…welll, except that Zora stood in between the lines (one of the older girls had gotten her away from the manger, but she wouldn’t go back up to where her “spot” was), but she was singing and doing the actions. If I would have had a camera, I could have gotten great pictures of her singing from side stage. lol.

edited to add: a link to mom’s account of the day: Littlest Angel

posted in Autistic Life, Christmas, Church, On Stage, The Kids | 2 Comments

  • Zane's age

  • Zane is 15 years, 11 months, and 22 days old
  • Zora's age

  • Zora is 11 years, 11 months, and 26 days old
  • Random Quote

  • Many times the only difference between having a weird kid and having a seriously expensive, heart breaking, time consuming, life altering psudo-medical problem is the word “Diagnosis”. — ShaggyDaddy (MDC)

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