OK hands up
who really enjoyed playing the part of the irate or definately unbelieving householder on the school or demo items?
I know I really did and its only recently struck me that maybe for years deep down these where my true feelings shouting to get out.
Shame I didnt listen to them sooner.
those bible dramas at the assemblies used to be a real insult to the intelligence as well. goo
This really struck a chord with me. I remember having an assembly part in the early seventies, based around one of those truly godawful “What about Dating?” articles in one of the magazines. (no one in England even calls it “dating” do they?)
I was a pretty good and faithful dub, really, a regular pioneer, a MS, that kind of thing, but I do remember thinking that this article was just plain ridiculous. Way over the top.
And “Freudian householder” exactly sums up the way I ended up playing my part.
You’ll be familiar with the set up:
Basically right-hearted but spiritually weak young teenage brother confides in understanding, compassionate elder that he “just can’t understand” this magazine article [holding it in his hand] about dating.
Caring and wise elder “reasons” with weak teenage brother over twenty minutes or so and finally young brother fully comes around to the approved Watchtower viewpoint and expresses joy and gratitude to Jehovah for correcting his wayward thinking.
Now, what happened certainly wasn’t deliberate and conscious behaviour on my part – like I said, Freudian is a real good insight into the process - but I remember vaguely forming an intention to kind of make the “before” character seem reasonable and likeable, and playing my “after” character in a wholly lifeless and zombiefied manner.
In rehearsals I hadn’t really given them any clue, I had enough sense to tone down the “before” guy, and it wasn’t word-for-word scripted, it was slightly different each time. …But on the night..
“Hello young Brother [Hormones]! Why, you look a bit down-in-the-dumps! Anything wrong?”
“Oh, hi Brother Elder, it’s nothing really. …Well, it’s… it’s just this Watchtower article [produces same with flourish] about dating. You know I’ve been getting quite friendly with young sister [Nubile] recently? Spending time in field service together?”
“Yes indeed! Fine activity! And the article gives us timely counsel. What’s the problem?”
“It’s just this [holds magazine and pretends to quote, in a quite frankly mocking tone] “ …heartbreak… unhappy marriages… unevenly yoked… teenage pregnancies… loathsome sexual diseases…” [looks up] - For Goodness sake! I only want to take her to the Pictures!”
Even after all these years I smile about this, because I REALLY delivered that line.
Well, it brought the house down. Maybe 10 or 15 seconds of top-volume laughter followed by a round of applause. I basked.
This, of course, was not how we rehearsed it, and full credit to the elder who after a few seconds pulled himself together and carried on with the sketch. I did too, I played my part thereafter exactly as we rehearsed it (I was very conscious of the buzz of conversation going on as people kept talking over the sketch)
The part ended, I (my character) was fully turned around and restored to Watchtower orthodoxy, and we shuffled offstage.
I had people congratulate me through the day on my assembly part – I felt like an Oscar winner. It was great, I had made the article look ridiculous (which it was) but I had done nothing wrong, because I had allowed myself (my character) to be won over in the end. I had ended up with the correct viewpoint. It was a strange kind of victory, but real nonetheless.
I heard the CO wanted to talk to me.
“Yes, well done, Duncan. Very – uhhh - lively.”
“Thank you, Brother Merry. [ David Merry – anyone remember him?]
“You got a big laugh there. You KNEW you would, didn’t you?”
“ yes...” He said. That was all.
I never got asked to do an assembly part ever again.
Still, that one moment in time….
Very funny stuff Duncan.
Reminds me of a couple of brothers I know back in NY, when they were rehearsing the night before the assembly (in front of the CO). The householder was supposed to be receptive, but the CO wanted him to play a trick on the 'loyal' witness and act irate, and really catch the 'loyal' witness off guard. (all elders)
The 'irate' brother called the 'loyal' brother the night before, and told him of the CO's plan. The 'loyal' brother then planned a double cross on the CO.
At the rehearsal on Friday evening, the 'irate' householder delivered his lines with great compunction, and the 'loyal' Witness looked stunned! The CO burst out in laughter at his joke.
But then, the 'loyal' Witness pulled a gun out of his bookbag and says to the 'irate' householder, "Well, I think I've got something here that will change your mind!"
Of course, the CO had been 'double-crossed' and the joke was on him, but I often felt like the gun method may be the only thing they'll have left to convince anyone soon!
Duncan! You're my personal hero... that's such a great line. I bet most of the people applauding were so overjoyed to hear something that actually sounded like what a real live person might say.
Most demos around here were duller than dirt. The ones that weren't generally involved some creativity on the part of the householder, hamming it up, of course they were only being theatrical when they savagely mocked the loyal witness party... It was kind of amusing once or twice when the loyal person looked a little annoyed at the "worldly" person for being too difficult to convince.
-Tergiversator, whose use of school ravioli as an illustration in a talk about sin was nowhere in Duncan's league
I was a householder once, being asked what his job was. It was "showing a personal interest" sort of item. The demo was an ad lib. And so I looked my friend in the eye and said, "I'm a cherry picker".
Well that was about the end of the item. He couldn't continue, and if he had done the cong were giggling too much. I have to say, in all modesty, that was my finest hour as a JW.
i knew things were really off when i noticed the brothers on stage holding index cards and reciting what had been rehearsed previously.
this was one of the give aways that everything had to be by the book and a sure fire way of making sure no one said anything that would embarass the borg.
by the way, Duncan classic
Great job Duncan,
My favorite part was a staged piece. During the service meeting it was arranged that I would stand up and shout my disagreement at the elder presenting the KM piece. He would then invite me on stage to discuss my grievance and I would be "turned around". It so happened we had occasional interuptions at this time from the unbelieving and somewhat opposed mate of a local "sister". He would barge in to the KH and shout his wife to get out. When I stood up and shouted a deathly silence fell on the congregation and a shocked look on was on everyone's face. This was followed by an audible sigh of relief as everyone realized it was staged. I can't remember what I was supposed to disagree with but it was fun to do.
PS: I remember David Merry. Do you remember Noble Bowers?
'To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing'
And so I looked my friend in the eye and said, "I'm a cherry picker".
Has anyone chosen "pheasant plucker" as their career? ;)
Great stuff Duncan:
You guys had all the fun. I don't remember any fun demos like that at conventions.
The only one I'm reminded of was of 2 young brothers were assigned to give a demo of the 3-scripture "sermon" for the month's offer. The one started his presentation as rehersed until the 'householder' out-of-the-blue said, "I want to know what you believe about the Trinity?" with a twinkle in his eye. Somehow the brother recovered and got through it but so much for anyone remembering what the presentation was.
ps anglise: I too remember enjoying being the irate householder. I wonder why?