1816 was "The Year Without A Summer." Tamara and I have been calling 2020 "The Year Without...." Without toilet paper, without a warm spring, without bicycle riding (well, not much of it so far), without dining out, without daily excursions to the grocer's to see what might be good. It's the year without close contact, where waving at your neighbor across the street is fine but getting close enough to chat feels risky. It's the year without hamfests, antique radio swapmeets or gun shows, a year without trips to the used bookstore or classes at The Indiana Writer's Center. (However, IWC has moved classes online! Most of the benefits plus my own coffee, so that's bearable.)
Thinking it over, I wondered, What about the Marion Easter Pageant?
It's a big deal. Other than a break during World War Two, Marion, Indiana has held a huge Easter Pageant ever year since 1937. Performed by amateur actors in Marion's Memorial Coliseum, it's an ecumenical Easter story without narration or dialog, told entirely though music and otherwise-silent actors. The Coliseum has a large pipe organ, the all-volunteer orchestral and singing talent is remarkable and the experience is moving.
Marion, Indiana is also one of this nation's epicenters of stubbornness. It's not a city that embraces change. So I wondered what they had done in response to the coronavirus stay-home order. Defied the authorities, perhaps with references to kicking money-changers out of the Temple? Pointed out that the cast, choir and orchestra had been rehearing together since the first of February and livestreamed the performance without an audience?
Nope. However reluctantly, they stood down and provided an alternative: The entire performance was recorded in 2003, and it's available on YouTube.
Had I known, I would have shared the link on Easter Sunday. Even as a crusty old agnostic, I think it's an impressive production and all the more so for being entirely amateur.
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