One of my favorite Biblical character monologues is Simeon, the old man who had been promised by God, through the Holy Spirit, that he would not die until he had seen his Messiah. Luke 2:25-35 tells the story of this promise being fulfilled, as Simeon meets the baby Jesus.
I’ve always liked Simeon. He was willing to be a little “different,” and to actually believe the promise that God made to him. The rest of the folks around the Temple thought he was just a crazy old fool. God made Simeon a promise, and Simeon expected God to keep it—and He did.
The monologue, of course, is done in full costume and makeup, including a thick gray beard, makeup to “age” the rest of my face, and of course a costume that includes a full head covering (a matter of convenience, so I don’t have to gray my hair), the usual “biblical character robes,” and a prayer sash/cloth that the devout Jew would place on his head when praying.
Ideally, for a close-to-the-crowd monologue like this one, the makeup, costume, and character should be EXTREMELY convincing, to the point that people look at the performer and see only the character, even if they know the performer. On at least one occasion, performing in a church where I was at the time a member, it apparently worked.
I’m pretty obsessive about not being seen in costume before and after a monologue, so I stayed out of circulation until just a few minutes before I was to perform. In order to get to the back of the auditorium from where I was, I had to go outside and enter through one of the main entrance doors. When I walked through the door, I was greeted by an usher who handed me a program and attempted to seat me.
I’m not making this up! The guy thought I was a visitor, and wanted to seat me!
I declined, of course. I then, in keeping with the way I’m wired, I paced for a while, and finally sat in an armchair to rest my legs. While I was sitting there, ANOTHER usher came to me and asked if I would like to be seated in the auditorium!
I explained that I was going to be doing a monologue shortly, and then I said “So, do we get a lot of people dressed like this as guests here?”
We had a good moment of laughter, and then I got back into character and got ready for my monologue.
It really impressed me. We had a standard in our church that was really pleased with: It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you’ve done, or how you’re dressed. You’re welcome here. Everyone, anyone, even if you smell bad and look funny, come on in, and we’ll love ya and treat ya like family—or maybe a little better.
It really struck me, as I thought about that incident, that this church really MEANS it when they say that. It’s something that I found personally challenging.
It’s easy to cross the street when you see someone that has needs. Its easy to excuse yourself and move when someone sits next to you who’s not so pleasant to sit next to. It’s easy to look the other way when the “wrong kind” of guests visit your church or fellowship, and hope that they just leave.
But, that’s not what Jesus would do.
How about you?