Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tips for the Primary Presentation

Once a year, the children of our local church congregation (the Primary class) put on a - show? presentation? program? concert? play? - for the rest of us. It's mostly speaking parts about what they've learned in the last year, interspersed with the songs they've been practicing for the last year. This is my favorite day of church ever. It's so unpredictable. Think about it: you get to sit there and watch what happens when they give a 3-year-old a microphone and a captive audience. You just never know what could happen. Which kid will pick his nose the whole time, in front of everyone (there's always one)? Which kid will sing tunelessly at the top of his lungs? Which kid will yell into the microphone? Which kid will recite his part perfectly and in such a heartfelt manner that it brings tears to your eyes? You can see why it's my favorite Friday of the whole year.

Or at least it used to be, before I was in charge of the dang thing. It's not quite so ha-ha funny when I'm the one who's supposed to be putting forth at least marginal effort toward making sure so-and-so doesn't pick his nose the whole time. This is my second year in charge. Here are a few things I've learned about writing/planning a Primary Presentation. Before you read it, keep in mind that it's too late for suggestions from you, at least for this year's presentation, because our last practice is finished and the real thing is this Friday. Note to self: write this post earlier next year (assuming I am not fired after this week's performance).

1. If you're going to have the kids write their own parts, maybe just don't. I thought it would be great if I wrote a sort of skeleton script with a sentence or two of pre-scripted background and then a prompt for the kids to fill in themselves. However, that led to a lot of extra hassle and work because not all the kids (or kids' parents) followed through. Then the teachers and I had to do it, and re-type it in the script, and re-print it out practically every week, etc. etc. etc. In the end it worked out OK, but I will think long and hard before doing that again. That said, sometimes you get awesome stuff from the kids' own little hearts, like one girl saying that one of the good things about agency is "the blessings of the mind." Not sure what that is, exactly, but the girl says it like she means it, so.

2. If you're working with a standard Mormon chapel this probably isn't a problem for you, but in our re-purposed residential villa, my mind has been running in circles trying to figure out how to make sure all the kids fit in the space in front of the congregation, and make sure everyone can see them, and make sure they are in order so that they can present nice and civilized-like without stumbling all over each other. Please note that achieving all this is IMPOSSIBLE. Next year I might just have the kids appear in the script in order of age so that they will also sit in order of age. That way, the big kids won't be in the way of the little kids. At least in theory. Sigh.

3. Some kids just can. not. sit. still. No. matter. what.

4. I try not to make a big deal of the tiniest kids actually saying their part during the practices. The fact is, some kids will get up and say their part perfectly every week in practice and then choke on the day of the actual performance. Or, as Miriam did when she was 5, they will never once say their part during practice and then perform brilliantly on the actual day. Whatever. Most of us are just happy to see our kid up there. And let's be honest with ourselves: even when our kids say their parts, the truth is we can't always understand the actual words they uttered.

I can't wait for Friday! I also can't wait for be over, you know what I mean?


Christi and Clifton said...

This year, our primary stayed in the primary room for the sacrament and then all filed in after the sacrament was over. It was a weird concept, but it totally made the transition easier because the kids didn't have to sit up on the stand during the sacrament and try to hold still for that much longer. It also avoided the choas of everyone coming up after the sacrament and finding the right seat. I know that doesn't have anything to do with what you wrote about, but it was so interesting to see it done and that it worked. I knew my kids' parts so I understood them, but I doubt anyone else did. The important part is they said it out loud. Even if it was super soft-it was a miracle that they actually said it!

Kathy Haynie said...

It will be lovely. Good for you to involve the kids in creating their parts, even though it is more work for the adults.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I remember being in charge of the program. And being the helper to the one in charge. Every year the practices would be borderline disasters. I'd be tensed up about the actual program and every time, it would go exactly right. Not that we didn't have nose-pickers or unplanned soloists. We did. But when you're watching small children do this thing that's out of their element, all the rough spots are be covered up by their cuteness and spirituality. I guess. There's no other explanation.

Jen said...

My biggest Primary Program takeaway? It doesn't matter how it goes. It doesn't matter who messes up and who makes out with the microphone and who refuses to sing. EVERYONE LOVES A PRIMARY PROGRAM. No matter what.

It's the law.


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