The Reverend Barbara Dawson
It has been extremely difficult to settle on just one "Church Story". There have been so very many favorite memories, wonderful people - and crazy events - that I have experienced since I first walked on to our campus in the fall of 1987. One of the earliest, however, involved the very first play that the congregation presented in the fall of 1988 entitled "Family Portrait".
I had only been with the parish for about a year when Gary Lawrence (who else!) decided that a great way to raise funds would be for the parish to put on a play. It sounded just like the plot from a Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movie: "Let's put on a play in the barn and save the day!" All of the proceeds would go to a charity - and just think of the grand time we will have putting it on. Sounded interesting, and a bit bizarre, to me so I said I would like to be involved.
The particulars are a bit hazy to me now, but I ended up with the part of one of Jesus' sisters-in-law. My son was played by Charlie Bupp, then about 4-5 and unable to read. His mother, Mimi, drew a picture book for Charlie so he could learn his lines. It was a wonderful book and I was wishing she would draw one for me. Alas, that didn't happen as I could read my lines - I just couldn't remember them.
Our stage was the altar area and I remember thinking that this was the first time I had ever heard of the altar being used this way - but it was very appropriate and handled sensitively. The configuration of the church and altar area was very much different that it is now, and our "backstage" was the outside of the building and the sacristy. The play was put on in November, and it was very cold and wet that fall. I remember being huddled up in the sacristy under layers of blankets with the other cast members, absolutely freezing, but Arthur and Mary Blevins kept us all laughing with their very, very dry English humor.
The costumes for the play were put together by Miriam Englar. I did not know Miriam very well at the time, but was impressed with her theater credentials. She was in some other local theater production at the same time as our play and doing the costumes for that as well. Obviously, she was more than a little pressed for time and had to do our costumes after the community theater costumes were finished.
I remember Miriam sitting behind a very long table in the Fireside Room, which was our old parish hall (now part of our sanctuary). She could barely be seen behind piles and piles of fabric stacked all around her sewing machine, madly sewing tunics and headdresses - up to and including the night of the dress rehearsal! It was the most amazing sight, especially to someone who has no idea how to put fabric and thread together. (Some of the costumes are still being used and I love to see them on our young people during the Christmas pageant. They are just one of the ways Miriam's legacy is alive with us.)
My daughter, Jennifer, was in the play as well. Her job, along with another young girl, Johanna Raquet, was to enter down the center aisle, each waving a long palm frond. The girls were quite small, only in the second grade, and the fronds were extremely long and heavy. One poor man, who had the misfortune of sitting on the aisle towards the front, was smacked in the head once by Jennifer as the girls came in - and again by Johanna as they left. The seat should have had a warning sign on it, much like the ones at Sea World that are in the whale's splash zone.
A lot of the play's plot involved the family sitting around the dinner table so, of course, we had to have food. Someone was in charge of making, or obtaining, the food so it was fresh each night. One scene in particular involved about six or seven "family members", including Randy Bupp, Charlie Bupp, Arthur and Mary Blevins - and me - sitting around a picnic table eating scrambled eggs and drinking something in goblets. We had scrambled eggs of every type imaginable, made fresh each night. Of course, we had a scramble egg fight and the water in the goblets turned into something more potent during the last production, catching Arthur Blevins completely off guard and almost causing him to gag.
Food truly became the focus of the cast's life in this play - primarily because of Bruce Smith's prop. Bruce's character was a fish monger. His costume involved some sort of headdress, and he had to come on stage holding a huge, whole fish by the tail. Finding, storing, and keeping the fish was a HUGE PRODUCTION, and involved a lot of energy by the cast and crew. The fish was kept on a plate in the sacristy during the play and IT STUNK BEYOND BELIEF!!!!
Whenever I think back to the many plays the congregation went on to produce through the next decade, and in which I was priviledged to participate in one way or another, my mind immediately jumps back to the image of Bruce walking on stage wearing a ridiculous headdress, holding a huge, gross, unbelievably smelly fish. I am sure that Bruce did not anticipate that moment when he responded to the call found in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus say: "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Thank you, Gary, for convincing us to put on "Family Portrait" and all the other wonderful productions you organized throughout the years. You created many, many, memorable moments for me - and the entire parish - and they will always be my image of what Church of the Resurrection is about: love for one another, laughter, hard work, fellowship and the desire to work on behalf of someone else who is in some kind of need or trouble.
The Reverend Barbara Dawson