Christmas Carol High School: Fish Eyes, Ghosts, and Friendship
Snap! Crash! Shh! Those aren’t the sounds you would typically hear from the wings of a stage, but they were heard from the wings of the stage at Living Faith Church in December of 2017. The play, Christmas Carol HighSchool, didn’t quite go off without a hitch. With each rehearsal, something exciting would occur that distracted us from other problems that arose. However, we always kept a smile on our faces and continued on. The play was the story of A Christmas Carolby Charles Dickens. The difference was that it was set in a high school rather than in London. I played the role of one of the two ghosts Christmas past.
Our lead actress was participating in two plays at once, Cinderellawhich was at her high school and ours. Often times, she would have to miss rehearsals for Christmas Carol High Schoolin order to attend Cinderellarehearsals. Her absence made our own rehearsals extremely difficult to accomplish. Although this was a difficult obstacle to overcome, we did and continued to have a wonderful time putting on the play.
Our first incident that helped distract us from the many mishaps we endured, was the Caesar salad scare. Just across the street from our church is an Aldi store. After church, but before rehearsals, many of us in the cast and crew would make the quick trek over and buy something to eat. On one of these Sundays, my friend, Abby, decided that it would be a good idea to buy a Caesar salad kit for her lunch. Upon returning to the church, five of us girls sat at a table and began to eat our lunches.
“What are all those little black dots?” Abby asked, turning to our friend, Lizzy, who sat beside her. Lizzy looked over to see Abby pointing at the small, black dots that rested in her Caesar salad dressing.
“I don’t know. Look at the ingredients.” Lizzy replied.
Abby checked the salad bag for the ingredients in her dressing. “It’s fish eyes!” She exclaimed with a high-pitched voice and wide eyes. “I am never eating this stuff again.” She declared to the four of us sitting with her.
“They’re not fish eyes.” Lizzy told her with her typical, evil-looking straight face.
“It says right here.” Abby held up the bag and pointed to where it read “anchovy paste”.
Lizzy took the bag and read the list of ingredients to herself. “I don’t think that they’re fish eyes, hon.”
I took the bag from Lizzy and read the list myself. I didn’t know there was anchovy paste in Caesar salad. It was possible that those little black dots were, in fact, fish eyes. I couldn’t say that to Abby. The list had black pepper on it as well. That’s what it must be. “Honey, I think those dots are just black pepper.” I passed the bag over to Lydia so that she could state her opinion next.
“Yeah, Abby. It’s just black pepper.” Lizzy repeated.
“I’m still not eating it. They’re probably fish eyes.” Abby told us and that was the end of the discussion.
As rehearsals progressed, my friend, Carter, and I had a difficult time trying to portray two 1950s cheerleaders, also known as the ghosts of Christmas past. We learned quite a few crazy cheers and poses that were eventually performed on stage.
“Haha!” I laugh quietly backstage. Carter had a scratchy, red pom pom on top of his head like hair. Another was stuck in front of his chin. He had got red hair and a beard! “It’s time for curtain call. I dare you to go out there like that.” I whisper. It’s only rehearsal. No one will mind.
“Fine.” He replies with his own small laugh.
We line up to take our bows, holding back laughter. Then his red beard fell off as we headed to the center of the stage. Unfortunately, it was unable to be fixed in time for anyone to see.
During the final performance of the play, one mishap stood out above every other thing that had happened during the course of the play. One of the stage wings is on the far corner of the stage and hidden only by a black sheet draped over an incredibly unstable structure. It constantly smelled of nervous sweat and the stage smoke that was used as a special effect whenever a ghost made their appearance on stage. Any noise made in that wing is audible to the audience.
While the small group of the three ghosts of Christmas past and present and Anna, who played a version of Marley’s ghost, sat quietly in the makeshift wing. Then a small, yet heavy, box fell to the floor with a loud crash. Nervous, we all jumped to pick it up and, in the process, accidentally rattled the chains that Anna carried around. Trying to calm down after that scare, I sat on a stool, my feet resting tiredly on one of the bars beneath it, forgetting that this was, unfortunately, the broken stool. None of the bars connected to any two of the legs. My feet pressed down heavily on the flimsy wooden dowel. It snapped. A loud crack sounded through the auditorium as the dowel fell off, and my feet hit the floor. All of us backstage froze. Our director would most definitely have our heads now. We were done for. The play continued on and we remained as silent as ever in our wing.
After the performance ended, Lizzy came up to me and told me about the sound they’d heard in her wing on the opposite side of the stage. “It was so loud! We heard it all the way downstairs!”
Embarrassed, I explained myself. “That was me. I broke a stool. But it was already broken!”
I, and the rest of the cast who had been present, were terribly afraid of the director who had been sitting in the back of the auditorium for the performance. Surprisingly, and to our horror, she said nothing to any of us.
Finally, I gathered enough courage to confront her. “You didn’t hear anything from backstage, did you?”
“No, I didn’t! Why?” She replied with a smile.
“No reason. I was just wondering.” My eyes were wide as I turned away. She hadn’t heard. What a wonderful day!
Our church Christmas play was not one that you would typically expect to see. It was different and had far more mistakes and mishaps than there should have been. It was also a time of making new friendships, learning from our mistakes, and growing closer to old friends in the oddest possible ways. In some ways, you could even say that it was a good thing that all our mishaps occurred. Without some of them, our friendships wouldn’t have gotten stronger and none of us would have connected through a common fear: the director. This was the best Christmas gifts I could have received, and it lasted all season long.