I run the field trip program at ‘work,’ which involves marketing, booking and performing in our educational mini-musicals that we offer to schools in our region. It is the theatre’s top-grossing program and our best community outreach tool. This year alone we hosted over 6,300 pre-K through 8th-grade students from 8 different county school systems in Georgia and 5 systems from South Carolina. An estimated 70% of all students had never seen a live play or musical before and, of the small percentage of students who had, only around half had experienced live theatre outside of their school or place of worship. So not only are these kids experiencing what its like to see live theatre, they are also performing in front of their peers, learning facts and figures about their chosen school subject AND wearing silly hats. I love this program.
That said, there are days when you just feel like a dumbass wearing a bee hat and singing about pollination. I’m the one who sells people on the great benefits of this field trip – but I’m also the one who has to wear a little bonnet and apron while I talk about good nutrition in Hansel & Gretal Eat Right, so that when I finally arrive at the witch’s candy house, I don’t eat any of it because the witch doesn’t offer me any healthy food choices. The shows are great learning tools for kids, but sometimes the reality that we are adults playing Sherlock Holmes and Watson in a science show called Geology Rocks! (get it?) is a little painful. ‘Sedimentary, my dear Watson,’ gets very few chuckles from 2nd graders.
So, I was in a field trip this week about the establishment of the 13 Colonies, playing George Washington. (That’s right, George Washington.) About halfway through the show, George gets arrested by the History Police for speeding through the Revolutionary War, so I get a good ten-minute break from the show and the kids. This particular day, I heard the front door open, so I stepped out into the lobby to see who it was. As luck would have it, it is my favorite UPS man bringing me some dance costumes. He comes to the theatre probably twice a week, knows my first name, recognized me at the mall one day…we’re tight. Which is why I was really surprised when he gave me this funny raised-eyebrow look when he saw me. I said hello, signed for the package, asked how his day was, all of the social niceties. Then he very politely asked me what the hell I was wearing.
It was then that I realized – I was dressed in breeches, waistcoat, jabot and a tricorner hat with my hair pulled back in a ponytail by a little black ribbon. I also had trick handcuffs on my wrists, as I had just been incarcerated for trying to make history fun. The kids on stage were getting really close to my next cue and I knew that I didn’t have time to explain to him my entire reason for being…so I just said the first sensible thing that came to my head:
“This is my uniform.”
Without missing a beat, my delivery guy said “maybe you should work for UPS instead.”
As I sprinted towards the stage, hands cuffed before me, I thought that he kind of had a point. I’m a 23-year-old girl dressed up like the Father of our Country, acting out hypothetical-at-best historical moments with third graders who are taller than me. Then I went on to say my bit about the Bill of Rights (its the perfect resolution to our living Constitution!) and I thought…nah. At least my uniform has lace.