By Eilene Lyon
The Slide Years is a series in which I select an image my dad took from 1957-1982 with Kodachrome slide film, then I write a stream-of-consciousness essay – a sort of mini-memoir.
“We must all do theater, to find out who we are, and to discover who we could become.” – Augusto Boal
Playing parts just seemed to come naturally to me. My first role, in pre-school, acting out a nursery rhyme, was Little Jack Horner. I had a tin pie plate with a plum made of clay. Triumphantly, I stuck my thumb in the plum, held it high and pronounced, “What a good boy am I!” Whew! I didn’t forget my line.
Fourth grade brought me my first staring role in a musical, after years of lame-o chorus parts in various school Christmas productions. Yes, I played Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and had no fear as I belted out, “Behold! The brimming bowl of meat and meal…!”
My next acting opportunities came while we lived in Guatemala and attended the Union Church. The youth group would put on Christmas and/or Easter plays, as well as musicals called Cantatas. My first church play role: Tree. According to the script, which amazingly I still have, the cast of characters describes this tree as “Alive and kicking.”
It was hard for me to kick anything wearing the burlap wrapper that was my costume, but physical humor defined this role – I had no speaking part. Instead, I got to bow, quake in fear, blush (okay, the stage lights took care of that), fold my branches in prayer, and hold my nose. My climax came when the woodsman intoned, “Cut it down!” and I promptly fainted.
This series of slides shows another church play in which both my brothers also participated. My role: Tree. Oh, the woe of being typecast! At least this tree had some lines and I got to move around the stage, as well. We see Little Brother got to play an angel; talk about a stretch! (hee hee!)
If I took that opening quote to heart, let’s see…I could grow up to be a little boy, a cartoon beagle, or a tree. Hmm. Which shall it be?
Feature image: Little Brother as an angel and me as a (singing) tree in the Union Church Christmas play, circa 1976. I can see my silver pinkie ring, leather-cord bracelet and puka-shell necklace, so characteristic of that era.