Rotation.org Writing Team
Mary Accepts, Magnifies, Ponders
and we should too!
The Drama & Music Workshop presents:
"Mary's Lost Christmas Opera"
Summary of Lesson Activity
Students will rehearse and videotape 3 songs from "Mary's Lost Christmas Opera." The songs use familiar Christmas tunes with new lyrics that teach the concepts and the truths found in Mary's encounter with Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38), her response in Mary's Song of Joy (Luke 1: 46-55), and Mary's pondering reaction to the shepherds visit. (Luke 2:8-20).
The three songs are posted below this lesson at rotation.org, they are:
- Gabriel and Mary's Song (tune: O Come All Ye Faithful).
- Boy to the World (tune: Joy to the World).
- Not So Silent Night (tune: Silent Night).
To reduce performance anxiety and increase participation and fun, some students will lip-sync and act the songs in front of the camera, while other students sing off-camera (behind camera). This approach to singing allows non-readers and camera shy students a way to participate.
Luke 1:26-38 (Announcement), Luke 1: 46-55 (Song of Joy), Luke 2:8-20 (Pondering).
This lesson does not have a traditional "read & discuss" activity, though you can add one if you have time. Instead, key meanings and words from each of these passages are presented in the songs and should be discussed in rehearsal and after viewing the video. In several other workshops in this lesson set, students 'read and discuss' these same passages, and they will come into this drama-music workshop having done already that work (building on previous lessons is one of the reasons we love the Rotation Model!) As well, these passages are read every year in Advent worship –but are rarely discussed Thus, in this particular workshop we're devoting more time to exploring meaning and adding memorable vibrance to what will become very, if not overly familiar passages.
Key/Memory Verse: "Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19 (NRSV)
See Bible Background for this set's complete list of objectives.
Objectives for this Workshop
- To "treasure" Mary's story through music and play.
- To "ponder" some of the spiritual insights revealed by her responses to the events of Jesus' birth.
- Read Bible Background, scripture and this lesson.
- Set up your drama space with a backdrop, costumes, drawing board, and video camera on a tripod.
- Enlarge of copy of each song's lyric sheet (by writing on a large piece of paper) and hang from an easel.
- Print copies of the three songs (posted below) and make copies for singers.
- Printed the attached "Song Cheat Sheet" for help matching song lyrics to the familiar tunes.
- Recruit a parent or helper to video tape, also a piano player (optional).
- Copies of all the songs (found posted separately below this lesson post at rotation.org).
- Large sheet of paper (to write lyrics on).
- A drawing board on an easel set up next to the camera for the actors (appropriate marker).
- Easel (to hand large lyric sheets).
- Simple costumes.
- A video camera on a tripod, and way to play it back on a monitor.
- Music stands for singers (two singers can share).
- Parent or helper (to video tape), and a Piano player (optional).
The tunes for the three songs from "Mary's Lost Christmas Opera" are familiar Christmas songs. However, the lyrics of these songs have been replaced with interpreted scriptures from Mary's story in Luke. The first song has blank spots that need to be filled in by your students. You could add "fill-in-the-blanks" to other songs. We did not for time considerations.
We're calling it an opera because the performance is meant to be overly dramatic, and there is no spoken dialog.
This lesson does not have a traditional "Bible reading followed by study" (though you are welcome to add one if you have plenty of class time). Rather, we are focusing on key words and ideas from the scriptures. They have been put into the lyrics that you and your students will be rehearsing, singing, and acting out. (Because we are spending several weeks on each story in the Rotation Model, we can approach individual lessons with some creative freedom.)
How to Perform Mary's Lost Christmas Opera:
- For each of the three songs, you will assign parts to actors who will lip-sync and act out the words on camera, while other students stand off-camera (behind camera - facing actors) and sing the lyrics. It will be really helpful to have an older student who likes to sing, or a teacher help by being the lead off-camera singer.
- Prior to videotaping the songs, gather everyone around the printed lyrics, read and rehearse them.
- As a group, come up with acting ideas, for the actors, and write these down for all to see (on drawing board).
- Enlarge of copy of each song's lyric sheet and post it on an easel for the on-camera actor(s) to follow while they lip sync. Write the group's "acting notes" in big letters on this lyric sheet so the actors have a sort of cue card.
- Those singing off-camera (behind camera) can also act out the songs, to help the on-camera actors. Recruiting a "ham" to prompt your actors will really help. Have printed copies of lyrics (large print) on music stands for your singers.
- When assigning parts, keep it flexible. You can have two Mary's doing the same part at the same time if you want. You can videotape songs twice with different actors. Some costumes are nice, but emphasize movement over props. (Movement is a great way to express and remember the emotion that Mary felt.)
- Consider recruiting someone to play the piano in the background for each song to support the singers (this is not a choir production, however!)
- Rehearsal is a great time to ask questions about certain lyrics. Be prepared to ask follow up questions after viewing the videos.
In your best "booming opera voice" welcome your students and announce, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Mary's Lost Christmas Opera has been found! And today, you will be performing Mary's Lost Christmas Op-er-a with me. And yes, we will be videotaping your performance so that you can have an audition video should you ever want to pursue a career in op-er-a~!
First, we will look at all three songs and assign parts. Then we'll videotape the song performances.
Fill in blanks on Song 1, then work through all three songs.
Add "movement/acting notes" to all three songs.
Don't hesitate to ponder on the lyrics as you go.
Lights, Camera, Action!
Perform each song while videotaping.
If extra time, switch parts, and do again.
View your videos! Then zero in on Jesus' last statement: What did he mean when he sang, "Here to give you birth " ???
Non-readers: Invite some older kids to come in and be the off-camera singers. Videotape many Mary's if needed!
Larger groups: Divide into groups to prepare the songs. Invite them to discuss some of their song's lyrics with the larger group after the viewing party.
Remember, there's no rule that you can't perform one song three different times with different actors. The more the merrier.
If you have time, invite older students to change the lyrics or add verses.
You can really ponder something you truly treasure.
Written by: Neil MacQueen for the Rotation.org Writing Team
Copyright © 2015 by Rotation.org
Printed from https://www.rotation.org