Oh the Humanity! Nativity Plays

For those with children – it’s that time of year again. Off you trot to the school hall, breathing in the curiously familiar smell of disinfectant and piss (or maybe that was just my old school) and sit down to watch The Nativity Play at 9.30am in all its comforting familiarity. The most popular boy gets to play Joseph and the cutest girl (or the one who has the scariest mother in the PTA)is Mary. But all this has changed. No longer do the most prized parts go to the future little Masters of the Universe while everyone else with their shy, spotty, incontinent offspring have to contend with being Third Shepherd on the Left. They all gather onstage, sometimes having to be prodded by an exhausted teacher. One of the shepherds cries loudly or wets himself. Then they all shout: “Behold a Star!” and point upwards in different directions like actors in bad sci-fi films pointing vaguely at a spaceship. I was too speccy to be Mary, and instead had to contend with being the Angel Gabriel. I clambered onstage wearing a cut-out sheet, minus my specs, shouted “I am sent from God” and fell off the stage. “Sent from the pub more like!” shouted a parent. I was only six!

Anyway, all that has changed, according to the Telegraph. It’s the shy kids who get the best parts, not those annoying confident ones. One parent argues that the whole point of a nativity play is children weeing and crying and doing everything wrong, not a load of irritating acting prodigies. Quite right too.

My daughter’s school, instead of a traditional nativity, put on a show called The Smallest Angel. It was fab! Loads of children forgetting their lines, singing Away in a Manger off key, and in one memorable moment, Mary dropped Baby Jesus and said: “Oh shit.” But like all parents I only had eyes for The Girl who kept waving at me. “That’s my mummy” she shrieked to the small boy next to her. “No – that’s my mummy” said the boy. They kept this up throughout the entire show. She’s such a little scene stealer . . . .

8 thoughts on “Oh the Humanity! Nativity Plays

  1. All I ever got to be was that ‘Third Sheppherd on the Left’, two years running! I even remember the ‘script’ saying third sheppherd, despite us only having two that year!


  2. I’m sorry Kit – you were a CABBAGE? Was your school into some sort of progressive vegetable Nativity? With a Butternut Squash as Mary? A Leek as Joseph? (I’ll stop now)x


  3. I’m sorry guys, but I was Joseph… should I give myself up to be stoned to death… and do you know what else? I ended up going to drama school. Oh, the shame! I am a living cliché! However, in my defence, I can report that, in the best nativity play tradition of crying and weeing, the girl playing Mary did drop the baby Jesus at one point and which point I (apparently, and I swear to god, I don’t remember this) picked it up and hit her over the head with it! What a little divo! Wish I could say I got better as the years went on….


  4. My children’s right-on school did a play in support of Shelter about the horrors of homelessness at Christmas. Can’t fault the intentions, but did miss the nostalgia. I have to get my childhood memories from watching Blue Peter – they still do the advent crown, you’ll be pleased to hear, but no hords of children marching through the scene dock doors singing carols this year.


  5. Actually Penny I’m a big fan of Shelter, and it’s a Good Thing that our children are aware of it. But yes, there’s nothing like a horde of all-weeing, all-crying Shepherds and sheet clad Angels.I have heard a story about a young boy who was so annoyed not to be given the part of Joseph but The Inkeeper instead, he kippered the production by opening the Inn door and saying: “Yes we’ve got plenty of room. Do you want the full English?”


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