Last week was the 4H Drama Festival.
It is a sign of just how hectic this past week was that it has taken me this long to gather my thoughts and photographs together and write this blog post. Between track meets, orchestra concerts and rehearsals, meetings, and the 2017 revival of that great 1973 hit, “The Saturday Night Massacre,” it has been hard to keep up.
And this is a shame, because our Players put on a marvelous if underrated performance.
For this year’s production we decided to adapt a play we did back in 2011, the first year we were involved in 4H Drama. The play, entitled, “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears,” is based on an African folk tale and was originally written by our first Drama leader, Jamie. Our cast this year was both older and fewer, which meant we could have more speaking lines and fewer random cast members. It adapts well.
We rehearsed Monday nights in March and April, gradually getting things put together. We had a dedicated cast and an eager spotlight operator, and by the last week it was all coming together nicely.
The Festival happens down at Home Campus every year, and as the Performing Arts Guy I generally end up as the campus rep for it all. This means I end up arriving at 7am to help set up and answer questions. Fortunately we’ve been doing this a while now and people pretty much know what to do and where to go. It also meant that I had to delegate my usual photographer duties to one of our other 4H’ers who was working the food booth. Thank you, Lauren!
Eventually our intrepid Players arrived and set to work getting makeup and costumes.
We then repaired to the outside lawn, where it was a beautiful spring day, and the kids ran their lines one last time before it was finally showtime.
The narrator comes on and lets the audience know that it is Mother Owl who wakes the sun each morning.
Then we meet Mosquito and Iguana. Mosquito is very small, but tells the tallest tales. Eventually Iguana decides she’d rather be deaf than listen to such nonsense and puts sticks in her ears.
Somehow between Friday night’s rehearsal and Saturday’s performance the rig I put together for the sticks disappeared. We still haven’t found it. Fortunately a substitute was cobbled together in time for the performance.
Iguana, now deaf, does not hear her friend Python’s greeting. Naturally, this being both a play and a folk tale, Python assumes mischief is afoot. He hides in Rabbit’s burrow, which panics Rabbit, which alarms Crow, which scares Monkey, who goes running off into the forest and, by swinging on a branch and breaking it, manages to kill one of Mother Owl’s owlets.
This year the owlet was played by a stuffed animal. In the original production we had a lot of very young kids playing various owlets. Things change.
Mother Owl is both grieved and angry (and you should have heard our actress work her way through the Stages of Grief, one by one – really, you should) and won’t wake up the sun. So Lion comes in and gets to the bottom of things.
Eventually it all gets resolved (yes, we played “Here Comes the Sun” at this point, because of course we did) and all ends well except for Mosquito, who is forever doomed to buzzing in people's ears, asking if people are still mad at her, and, well, getting whacked in response. Because that's what happens to mosquitoes.
It was an excited and happy group that met in the hall afterward.
The judges seemed pretty happy with the show, though in the end they only awarded us red ribbons which I thought was unduly harsh. Oh well. Judges do what judges do and life moves on. They also awarded us best costumes and best original drama, which we appreciated!
All the world’s a stage.
Congratulations, Players! You did well.