Treading the Boards


It’s Easter. A family thing has me seeing a kid’s play at a Church.

The class of four-year-olds sing something dead cute about “Jeeeeee suuuuuus”. (which of course sounds like Cheeses – the sweet baby cheeses !!).

Then the Plain clothes minister, Matthew, gets up to go through some basic Bible stories, including the meaning of Easter to the kiddy-winkies. He has slides of stick people up on the screen, and also gets some of the kids to act out the roles, for the edification of the “growed” ups.

I feel pretty uncomfortable (I went to a convent school for a couple of years purely for acadaemic reasons, and now I’m a sort of borderline Buddhist, but that’s about as committed as I get, in religious terms).

So the first slide is a stick Adam and a stick Eve (no need for fig leaves then !!!). Two little kids are chosen to play the roles, and another for the tree. They’re having a ball.

A couple of slides later, Matthew says, “And now I need one very special volunteer to do this slide by themselves.” Kids raise their hands straining to be that one kid. “Ooo Oooo pick me, pick me!”. A boy is chosen. Timmy.

Matthew continues “Now Timmy, I want you to stretch your arms out as far as you can. That’s right. Stand very still. Keep your feet close together”. Timmy complies. “Timmy, you are representing Jesus-who-died-on-the-cross-for-our-sins”.

Timmy looks understandably perturbed, and rather worried, his lower lip is trembling. The look on his face conveys the thought, “Bu-bu-but I don’t want to be Jesus-who-died-on-the cross-for-our-sins”.

Matthew is beaming with beatific joy at his stick figures, and four year old actors.

This is where my mind turns this scenario into something far more interesting and entertaining (I think !?) Wavy Line Wavy Line (if I haven’t explained this before – it denotes that scene break in old tele-movies where we go into the realms of the imagination…ation…ation….).

Timmy drops his arms, and turns to Matthew. Matthew asks him what’s wrong. Timmy says, “Look here.. Maff-yew, I’m very grateful and all that, but I was wondering if I could have a quick word with the Casting Director?”

Matthew replies , “Um, well I guess technically that’s me.” Timmy carries on, … “See I’ve got a bit of an issue with this role. I mean, I am only four, so I’m pretty new to this game, and given that we’ve had no rehearsals at all, well, I’m not too sure I can inhabit the role of the guy nailed to a bit of wood”. (when he says inhabit, he denotes air quotes with his little fat fingers).

Matthews’ joy is wearing thin….”Come on now Timmy, don’t be difficult”. Timmy speaks again… “If I do decide, in about fifteen or twenty years, that I wish to make thespianism my profession, then I would think I would opt for the method school, and that being the case, I’m having a little trouble really feeling this role. I mean, I’m playing a young man, virtually naked, with massive nails banged through my hands and feet, in utter agony, vilified by almost all around me, facing my imminent death, my much-loved mother weeping inconsolably on the dusty ground of Golgotha… and to be honest, Maff-yew, I’m struggling with this somewhat”.

Matthew is close to loosing the remains of his beatific-ness… “Timmy, the other kids are having no trouble with their roles, look at Ruby and Josh, they seem to be fine”.

“Well yes”, says Timmy, “but Ruby and Josh get to pretend they’re in a garden eating apples they weren’t meant to eat, you know?… It’s not a big stretch, is it ? For a four year old…

Whereas I… am the son of God, and tomorrow I have to resurrect… It’s a pretty big ask mate, if I can be totally frank with you… Maff-yew… treading the boards is one thing, but being nailed to them?… That’s a whole ‘nother ball game !!!”