Memoirs of a Drama Director’s Wife
We've Been Everything
The Genius Writer/Director
My husband is a genius. Honestly. He is the most gifted drama director and writer that I know. He has at one time, worked on the Happy Days and Lavern and Shirley sets, behind the scenes. He learned a lot there. He has been a disc jockey and announcer for several radio stations; what a smooth voice. There aren’t enough ooo’s in “smooth” to describe him. And he has been the Director of Drama and Video production for a mega church in California. So, needless to say, I know drama when I see it.
The Kids in Costume
Always On Stage
It’s very interesting being married to a drama director and theatrical writer. More than once in the middle of an argument, my director husband would look at me waving my arms around to punctuate a point and say, “Get off the stage!” Now that’s aggravating, especially when you consider that I learned just about everything I know about acting and drama from him.
Our children have all been used at one time or another on stage as extras. When we couldn’t get anyone else to help out on a performance we would turn to our own dramatic troupe. Sometimes we relied so heavily on our own ranks for extras that it may as well been called the McGill show. I remember one time we need some demons for an after-death scene. We used a shadow frame. It was little more than 2 by 4’s 10 feet by 10 feet nailed together with a white sheet stapled all around the frame. We set up a bright strobe light behind the screen and had actors in front of the light so their shadow showed up on the white screen. I made horns and tails for my precious children and sent them in to do the demon’s work. They loved it actually.
Once I had my teenage son dress up in one of my dresses (with padding) and he became the Church Secretary onstage. Just before he went on he turned to me and asked to borrow my lipstick. Now there is something you never expect to hear your son request of you.
Our number 3 daughter was a little on the clumsy side and would often make people nervous playing a waitress carrying a try on stage. So much so that I often glued the items onto the tray for her to carry. One time she placed things onto a table and exited but no one in the audience could concentrate on what the performers were saying because my daughter had placed one cup of water so close to the edge of the table that everyone was sure it would fall over. That’s called upstaging the performance. Even if you aren’t there you can upstage a performer.
My Dramatic Children
My children have been everything from restless natives to the Joker (from Batman) and the Wicked Witch of the West (from Wizard of Oz), from demons to orphans in Annie. They have been backdrop movers, lighting techs and even stand-ins. They left my home with more than a little knowledge on the workings of a theatrical troupe. Even though none of them went into the theater for a living, all of them have been able to use their experience in one way or another. My number 2 daughter recently wrote and directed an Easter drama for her church. My son is a pastor in Indiana and uses his theatrical experience regularly in stories woven into his sermons as well as some acting. All of them are slices of the old ham.
The Christmas Gift
As a Christmas gift to our friends and family one year, my husband choreographed a song for the four kids to sing and perform. It was one of those years when our funds were very low and making people smile in this way was all we could afford. For weeks before we planned to make the rounds with our little troupe, they rehearsed in the living room. The opening had one daughter come out singing, step over to the boy waiting and pretending to open a carriage door to let her in. He snapped his pretend whip and the other two waiting girls pranced around the room as if they were horses pulling the carriage. Then they all broke, danced and lined up, broke again and did several synchronized moves that made them a real hit.
Are your children drama queens?
One day while I was in the kitchen cooking and they were being taught the number, my husband had the four of them lined up inches from each other. He told them when this line comes in the music, he wanted them to each lift their right foot and step right. The music came on and I heard, “Ow, ow, ow, oh!” They had each lifted the right foot and stepped right onto the left foot of the kid next to them. It was very funny.
Recipients Loved It
When we went from house to house with this short 4-minute performance, each of the recipients said they loved it so much they would gladly take that over a regular gift every year.
Charlie Chaplin Short
The Talent Show
One year the four kids brought home a notice that their school was having a Talent Night and they wanted to be in it. They said most people were doing lip-synching or break dancing but they wanted something unusual and different. So my husband decided we would all be in the Talent Night. Because it was only a few weeks away, there wasn’t time to write a complete drama or memorize lines, so he decided to create a Silent Movie for us to perform.
The Silent Movie
He cast us in the most unusual way possible. He made my number 2 daughter (about 10) the elderly mother, the number 1 daughter (about 11) the baby, our son (about 9) the handsome boyfriend, me (mom about……) the lovely daughter, my husband (dad about….) the evil landlord, the number 3 daughter (about 8) the Keystone cop to arrest the evil landlord. My oldest daughter absolutely loved playing the mischievous baby with bonnet and nightgown, biting everyone who came near her. My second daughter had fun pretending to knit and wearing glasses on the end of her nose and a grey wig. My son came onstage in a suit and he was so little I had to pick him up to kiss his face because he was my boyfriend. For a silent movie, he had an unfortunate tendency to giggle during that part. Then the evil landlord came in with a mustache and the deed, ready to throw us out. The baby bit him, my boyfriend kicked him and the baby crawled behind him and I pushed him over her so he fell. Then the Keystone cop entered to take him away but she was little enough that she couldn’t budge him so he picked her up, tucked her under his arm and out they went.
Just the Memories
This silent movie was just that quick, but for years afterward, people talked about our performance and how much they loved it. I wish we had had someone videotape it for us. Unfortunately, it is only a fun memory.
They are all grown now and off with their own drama troupes. It was a great time to think of all of them on stage, whether we were at a theater or not.