What broadly graded means is, I needed a skit or play or something that I could use for about two dozen kids ages 18 to 3.
Bigger parts for the high schoolers, short one liners for the younger elementary kids. Standing around in silence for the 3 and 4 year olds…who might abandon their post and go sit with Mommy at any moment.
Well, it was hard to find. REALLY hard to find. Add to that, I had no budget…translation: I had to pay for anything I found, any costumes we needed, any special set…myself.
Of all these challenges finding a good play was the hardest. Keep in mind here that there was little or no internet back then. The internet existed -- Al Gore had already invented it -- but I didn’t have it in my home. There was no Amazon (to my knowledge anyway). I had to go somewhere (I live a looooooooooong way out in the country) find some store that carried such things as Sunday School Christmas Plays and start digging through them.
So, I ended up writing them myself. I won’t go into the stress of that. The worry (yeah, I know, worry isn’t Christian….so I’m not only having to write the program myself…I’m a stinking sinner while I’m fretting over it! Great!)
Well, wait a minute, let me go into the stress of it for a second after all. I’d start writing the play about six months early and at that point I’d start worrying. By the time the play would go off at Christmas time, I had the whole thing memorized. It would run endlessly through my head. It fed my insomnia like little else…the only thing I can remember being as bad was the few years I coached softball when my daughters were young. Guess what? Softball????? Me??? Mary 'Klutzy Couch Potato' Connealy???? We lost a LOT of games. I lost a LOT of sleep. Insomnia is my default reaction to anything (and sometimes NOTHING)
Back to the play…I’d rewrite and revise, kids would show up at the last minute, you know---kids that belonged to our church whom I’d forgotten existed. And yet here they’d come, sometimes showing up for the Sunday of the Christmas program for the first time, wanting a part in the play.
So, anyway, I wrote a new play every year for about ten years. And when I finally quit--at the urging of my cardiologist and psychiatrist and the straight jacket repair squad--I had a nice little body of work.
I’m getting chills writing this (of course it’s kinda cold in here, but still!!!!)
It was a wonderful moment.
Anyway, I went up to that sweet little old lady in church and told her, “It worked! Thank you so much! Thanks to you I got my play published!” (insert Kermit the Frog Dancing here)
And she said, “I’m a bit deaf and couldn’t hear the play, and I just wanted you to print up a copy for me so I could figure out what was going on.”
(insert extended dead silence broken only by the sound of crickets chirping)
They say God works in mysterious ways. And in this instance, I believe not even Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, teamed up with Nancy Drew and Sam Spade could’ve seen that coming!
by Mary Connealy et al
I don’t really recommend you buy them and stage your own original Mary Connealy play. Some of the plays are………a little sarcastic. (I know, you're shocked!) I’d hate to see your church split over them. Also the book costs a FORTUNE. Twenty-five bucks for a ten year old book currently ranked 2 millionth on Amazon? Get over yourself and put it on sale already.
And that is the heartwarming story of how deafness launched my career. How insomnia made me what I am today and (sniffle) how I earned my first money as a writer. I should have distributed tissues before I told you that poignent tale.
Hope your New Year is blessed and full of fun and joy and wonderful FIRSTS.
And since this is the first blog day (it's January second, I know, shut up) of the first week of the first month I'm giving away the first Seeker prize of 2012.
A fifteen dollar Amazon gift card.
I've got some copies of that book with the FIRST play in it kicking around, too, if anyone wants one. Heaven knows I'm not gonna use them again.
I got a note from my cardiologist and retired right before writing and directing that play killed me!!!!