4: The Play’s the Thing

4: The Play’s the Thing

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom

The Play’s the Thing

Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.

~Dale Carnegie

It was a cool evening during a long, wonderful summer break. I sat with my two younger sisters lamenting that while kids on TV had school plays, our school in real life did not.

Enter Mom.

Mom has never been one to sit idly by. She is a woman of action, especially when her children are involved. Her daughters wanted to be in a school play, so a school play they would have.

Mom agreed that it was a shame to not have a school play. She had always encouraged us to try new things, to challenge ourselves. Whenever we were scared or nervous, like when we had to play a solo at a recital, she would remind us that it was a good experience. So it was that Mom declared she would do her best to change the school play dilemma.

I was in fifth grade; I had learned many years ago that Mom could do anything. So, with never a doubt in my mind, I looked forward to our school play.

This was pre-Internet, so Mom read books and consulted the high school theatre director. She taught herself basic theatre terminology, the ins and outs of arranging rehearsals, the tricks of the trade for lighting and sound effects, how to obtain the rights to a script—everything.

Mom made a plan; we were to do Peter Pan! I had already spent many magical moments watching Mary Martin fly as Peter Pan; this was so exciting! While my sisters and I busied ourselves watching the video and dancing along with Princess Tiger Lily, Mom got down to business.

Mom contacted our school and got permission to do the school play; I can only imagine how that went. She bargained for use of the school gym, fighting with the needs of the school’s various sports teams. She made it happen.

She held auditions. She got volunteers and built a stage. Mom scavenged for costumes and props at thrift stores, and created what she couldn’t find. She rented lighting and sound equipment. She designed sets and drew scenery. She prepared the music accompaniment and she choreographed. Mom was the producer and the director. On top of this, she coordinated a substantial team of volunteers, which is no small feat.

During this time, Mom was also being a normal mom. She worked a full-time job, she prepared meals for our six-member family, she drove us to our various other extracurricular activities, and somehow she kept the house in one piece.

When the time came and the stage was set, Mom put her final efforts into publicity. And the seats were packed! Every night!

It was a hit, and everything went off without a hitch.

Mom went on to do The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, and Fiddler on the Roof before handing over the torch. Each play got increasingly complex. She even went so far as to compose original songs so that more kids could have solos. She altered the scripts to give more kids lines. And crazier still—she somehow managed to have double casts, so she could double the number of starring roles (and double the workload for herself).

See, Mom was not just there for my sisters and me, she was devoted to giving as many kids as she could the opportunity to have that good experience, to get up on the stage and be brave. She was so very proud of everyone. She still talks about all the different kids who impressed her, who she noticed came out of their shells.

It continues to amaze me when I think back on my school plays. To being a Lost Boy and watching my sister shine as Maria von Trapp. But mostly, I think about what Mom accomplished. How she made this unbelievable effort in order to give invaluable, strengthening experiences to so many. I’m inspired.

~Maggie Anderson

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