This was it. All other events had been leading up to this one moment; all
other paths led here. It was my beginning, and there would be no going back.
Next stop, Broadway. That’s right, I was playing Mary in the school nativity.
My commitment to the role could not be denied – ask my parents. For
weeks I had walked around the house cradling the toy that would be baby Jesus, despite it looking suspiciously like a rag doll. However this didn’t matter, as I was in the zone. Everything was rehearsed (you couldn’t just wing this kind of thing), and although Rahoul was a less than convincing Joseph, I knew that I could compensate for this, and it would be glorious.
Because it really does matter, the nativity, and for a long time I wasn’t sure why: living in a 21st-century secular society, why do schools across the country persist in putting little children through the embarrassment of re-enacting the birth of Jesus in a stable? Is it the lack of budding children’s playwrights? Perhaps. But really, it’s all about establishing a hierarchy early on in children’s school life. We all know it’s not about the Northern Star, or Angel Gabriel. It’s barely about Jesus; it’s about who gets to play Mary and who gets to play the Donkey. It’s about hierarchy people.
This was the first, and indeed the last year, I bagged the starring role of
Mary; before then I’d always had a less than conspicuous role. Once I was even a snowman, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t in the original story, it being set in Bethlehem, AD 1 and all. Another year I was one of the three wise men, and given a beard courtesy of a board marker. I know what you’re thinking: ‘One of the three wise men? Not bad!’ But I was the one with the myrrh, and as Life of Brian teaches us, that’s the one no one cares about. Thus, the year I became Mary was quite a step up on the hierarchy – the ultimate step in fact.
So I don’t know what happened – the pressure of being at the top of the
hierarchy perhaps – but on opening night in the school assembly hall, I lost it. As Rahoul and I approached the two chairs on which we were to sit, he sat on the wrong chair. My chair. The better chair on which it had been agreed in rehearsals I would sit upon. He sat on Mary’s chair, not even Joseph gets away with that.
The saintly composure I’d been perfecting for several days went out the
window; the three wise men backed up in fear, and the boy playing the tree in
the corner quivered as I directed Joseph, with the use of contemptuous shouting and a pointed index finger, to sit where he was meant to. I thought I’d styled it out pretty well. He sat on the correct chair.
However, looking back on the video now, as I hear the laughs of the
parents and see Angel Gabriel roll his eyes to the heavens I wonder to myself
if it was all worth it. Sure, it was glorious, and the rest of my performance was
faultless, as I was at the top of my game. But alas, is this what childhood is about? Should anyone be given such a powerful position at such a young age? I don’t know, but just like all young stars, I melted under the spotlight, and brought what could have been a beautiful acting career to an abrupt end. I don’t know what happened to Rahoul.