“School play”. Two words guaranteed to strike dread into the heart of any parent. Usually such events involve sitting through a parade of nervous children clad in badly made cardboard cutouts of various U.S. states, or being subjected to such musical classics as “There Are Four Major Food Groups, Yes There Are”. (I have to add as an aside that my school play experiences involved performances as Pontius Pilate, a classic example of typecasting if ever there was one, and appearing in blackface. Hey, it was the 70s, and we didn’t know any better, or maybe Catholics just don’t care about such things). Thankfully, this is not so at my son’s school. For the past couple of months the entire sixth grade were involved in a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Not just the theatrical performance, but an exploration of the characters and their motivations and an exploration and retelling of the story.
As you can imagine, the theatre was full of expectant parents, each one of them eager to see the fruits of two months’ work by their children. Elizabethan English is difficult at the best of times, but the entire cast gave their best effort in presenting a full blown production. My son is not the most demonstrative of people, so he was well cast as Vulpecula, one of King Oberon’s servants, and it was gratifying to see him throw himself into the role, delivering his lines with confidence and assurance; just what I would expect of him. My daughter is a natural born performer, so she was eager to see the play, and now can’t wait until she is a sixth grader and can participate in a production. She had some difficulty following the plot during the first performance, but at the matinee she got much more from it.
Of course, my Ex was there, with her boyfriend in tow. As I’ve said (see “Creep”), he’s an ignorant, freeloading redneck, so I’m not sure if he was there because he wanted to be, or because she expected him to be there. I have to say, that for the evening performance, he could at least have made the effort to dress up a little, out of respect for the space, the occasion and the cast. But no, he turned up in his dirty baseball cap and cargo shorts. The first performance was not too bad, as they were seated on the opposite side of the room, but for the matinee they were directly behind us, partly at my daughter’s behest, and partly due to the restricted options available to them due to their arrival shortly before the start. While I was at least able to engage in polite conversation with my Ex, he again didn’t even have the grace to say a word.
The kids were with me that weekend, so we had to wait for my son at the stage door. I have to say, that I never expected to hear the words “Your son will be out soon, he’s just removing his makeup”. Needless to say, both of them slept soundly the first night. After the matinee, the cast all headed off to an after party while the parents broke down the set. The stage was disassembled and carried piece by piece to the barn for storage, the lighting removed, and so on. A task that was accomplished with much comradeship and cooperation, although a few more Allen keys would have been nice.
I had expected my son to be running on empty after the party, but much to my surprise he jumped at the opportunity of a sleepover with some of his friends, the invitation having been extended as my daughter and I drove home. I think that the prospect of playing in the snow the following day was too much for him to resist, and who can blame him? Where he gets the energy from, I don’t know. I guess being 11 has a lot to do with it.
I have to say that I am immensely proud of my son for taking such an active interest in the play. He tends to be on the quiet side, yet when on stage it was as if he was in a different world. I did note some signs of nervousness among some of the cast, which is only to be expected, but he showed none of that. Bravo, son. Encore!