It was confusing to me. Why were the wise men in my way? They'd never been in my way before. It seemed that during the rehearsals and Saturday night's performance I'd had a clear pathway to the backstage area. Why then, during our closing performance, was I dodging wise men? In the darkness I located the person I was supposed to give the baby Jesus to. I handed off the actress playing the Christ child, grabbed my son's hand (he was playing young Jesus) and took off for the back of the sanctuary. You see, my next scene involved me walking down the center aisle. I got halfway there, turned, and with slight frustration, said, "Where's Troy?"
That's when one of the boys in the cast caught up to me. "You skipped a scene!"
Scampering quickly through my mind was the thought, No I didn't. I wrote the play. I've been the lead in the play for three months. I think I know what happens next. What I said was, "What scene?"
And just then I heard the narrator launch into his one sentence and I was immediately catapulted into exactly which scene I was supposed to be doing. I let go of Garrett's hand and sprinted back toward the stage whispering loudly, "Where's the baby?" As it turned out, my microphone was not muted at the time. Many of the people I've spoken to thought that something in the show had gone wrong and I'd misplaced the tiny actress. Several of the people thought it was supposed to happen--thought, maybe, that we were showing just how normal Mary was. Just how easily it would have been for her to misplace her baby in the middle of the night. These people concern me. I, uh, can't recall misplacing either of my children in the night. Pretty much they were in their crib. And what with Jesus being the Messiah and all, I feel like Mary might just have kept pretty close tabs on Him.
I located her, snatched her from the arms of the other girl, and ran up the stairs. Just as I entered stage right the lights came up. Perfect timing. That's exactly what I went to school and majored in theatre for. Cool under pressure.
Except one thing. I was supposed to be lying down. I was supposed to be asleep. So I did what any sensible person with years of theatre training would do. I dropped to the floor--baby and all-- with the light already on me and pretended to be asleep. And that's not even the best part. The best part is that, when several audience members starting snickering, I cracked a smile.
Oh the humanity.
Oh the terrible acting.
Of all the things I was ever taught, not breaking character is at the top of the list.
I could have just walked on, pretending that I'd been awake with the baby. I could have mumbled my lines from off stage as though I'd been asleep in another room. I could have chosen one of about ten really good options. But what did I choose to do? Drop to the floor like the blessed mother had narcolepsy. Or a seizure disorder.
That, folks, is acting at its absolute finest.
I wouldn't have minded--much--if it had happened to someone else in the cast. I would have said things like, "Everyone makes mistakes. Don't sweat it. At least you earned a laugh. Good work. See you next year at auditions." But what with it being me, well, I just don't plan to let it go for a good long while.
When I exited after the final scene, several members of the cast greeted me with smirks, "Better you than me."
"Where's the baby? Hahahahahahah!"
"Way to go, Director."
"What's your degree in again?"
Yeah. About that. I'm calling Point Loma and asking for my money back. 80,000 dollars later and all I have to show for my theatre degree is a piece of paper with Bachelor of Arts at the top.