As I said in my Glenview notes, this is the only bit of acting I did in my first two years of high school. I was still feeling my way through teenagerhood. I wasn’t by any means sure that acting was something I wanted to do seriously.
With that in mind, it’s an astonishing piece of good luck that, of all the kids who participated in this pageant, I was the one who got his picture taken (with little Kristen Reynolds) and made the local paper. So lucky me: I’m the one who, twenty-five years later, gets to remember exactly what I looked like all dressed up as a (13-year-old) shepherd. (Click the picture to see a bigger version.)
Appearing in the Christmas Nativity play at Trinity Church, the oldest church in Cambridge, was a complete accident for me. It wasn’t even my church; my family went to First United. But my buddy Jim Wright was in it, and he coaxed me into coming down and trying out.
I was cast as one of the shepherds who, “tending their flocks by night,” is visited by an angel of the Lord saying “Fear not, for I bring you tidings of great joy,” etc. The angel in this instance was somebody in costume up in the balcony of the church; and we were all down in the nave, and supposed to look up in reverence.
And here, I suppose, is where actors are born, not made. I decided that, since the angel says “Fear not...” I should therefore look fearful, otherwise the line made no sense. So, during the dress rehearsal, when the angel appeared, I gazed at him (or was it a her? I really can’t remember) with as much fear and awe as I could muster. The director happened to be walking by at that point and said, “Good expression, Paul!”
I loved it! A ham was born.