How Would Handle This? A Catch 22...

My church performs an amateur, Spring play each year. This time, I was asked to co-write this year’s play. We always do our best to give all who try-out a part. Per usual, we always have a lot of kids. Often, we work them into scenes as a group; however, each kid gets one line due to time constraints. This year, the kids were adamant they wanted more lines, but we had to maintain the one-line standard.

The problem is my wife remembered that my 9 yr old son (one of the kids in the play) has the perfect costume from Halloween. The knee jerk reaction was to give him a slightly bigger part. The decision was made late in the auditions, and I don’t think the other kids heard this. My wife (who supports this) inadvertently put a bug in my ear making me realize how BAD this could be! This will spark accusations of nepotism, and the other kids will be very upset once they hear this (I predict). My wife argues that he just happens to have a perfect costume for this bigger part, plus he has to be at every single rehearsal with me (due to our schedule)…not just the kids rehearsals.

Ug, I hate confrontation! So, now I must choose between disappointing my kid and upsetting my wife (who fails to understand)…or, upsetting many church folk whom I must face each week. How would you handle this? Either way, I fear will be branded a heel. :frowning: My kid may not hear the end of it either from his peers, and he won’t take it gracefully, I am sure.

One potential out for me: My kid’s costume is actually too good upstaging our very low-budget costumes that will merely suggest what characters we play. IMHO, his costume will upset the natural balance and “look” of the costumes if his is a little classier (i.e., his costume is actually over-qualified!). Can I use this to reinforce my argument why he should just accept a common kids part?

I would give the parts fairly regardless of the costume. How would the casting have come out if the costume were left out of it?

And if the costume will look incongruous, that is certainly a compelling reason to leave it out altogether. All the kids should feel on the same level as far as the costuming goes.
(Is the costume a marine animal at the Nativity like in Love Actually? Please say yes.)

What does the availability of a costume have to do with your son’s ability to audition and get the part on his own?

In Heller’s satirical WWII novel, any pilot would be relieved of combat duty if they were found to be insane by their flight surgeon but they needed to request an evaluation. Catch-22 stated that any pilot who requested an evaluation was demonstrating self-preservation which was proof that they were not insane. A pilot who continuously volunteered for missions was clearly insane, but couldn’t be grounded unless he requested an evaluation, which would be proof (based on Catch-22) that he wasn’t insane.

Catch-22 gets used multiple times in the novel, each time to reference a paradox. Conflicting rules that make resolution impossible. Catch-22 doesn’t mean “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” It’s an expression that indicates a problem without a solution due to contradictory requirements or circular logic (you can’t read the content of Catch-22 because it’s upheld by law as described in Catch-22.) All of this is a really long way of saying that what you are describing is not what is commonly understood as a Catch-22.

As for your dilemma that’s not a Catch-22, I would maintain the one-line standard for kids and give the more significant role to an adult who can provide their own (possibly less than perfect) costume for the play. Yes, your son will be disappointed. You have to take responsibility for making a decision before thinking it through, and appeal to his sense of fairness to his peers. I don’t envy you, but if nothing else, I think it offers a really good learning opportunity for your son.

Best of luck. The syndicate is counting on you, and everyone has a share.

Halloween is Satan’s work. Why would you bring that to a Church play?

Other than that, I got nothing.

How would you feel if it was someone else’s kid who upstaged everybody else not as a matter of being a scene-chewer in the Tommy Lee Jones range, but on account of having a better costume (which stinks of having more money, and many people would not believe it was already in the house)?

My HS senior dinner is in costume; after an incident in which a Marie Antoinette with too much money and too little sense flashed the whole school, the rule that “costumes cannot be rented” was included. The issue was never the sight of her panties, it was the unequality; the panties were just a handy excuse.

Your kid’s “Perfect for the role” costume stays at home. He gets a crummy costume on par with his peers’.
He also gets a role on par with his peers’.

The best person for the role gets it. That is NOT your kid even if you think he is. You can then offer that kid the upgraded costume to use if he’d like. If he’d prefer his own costume go with that.

Also, away from the point of the thread though, any play that is specifically designed to just give a mass of people a single line each is probably going to suck, better to decide how many would make a good play and then hold auditions/draw lots to see who gets the parts.

Don’t give your kid the bigger part. Just don’t. It’ll piss off the kids to, and make them resentful of him.

The obvious solution is to lend out the costume if needed.

When I was in fifth or sixth form I actually wrote our class play, Superduperman, that was presented to the whole school at a weekly assembly. To show her support my mother made me a Superduperman costume with a big red question mark on the chest. However I had not accounted for our teacher deciding that the fair way to allot parts was to audition for them.

Rudely I missed out on Superduperman but luckily had written Clark Cent to be played by someone physically unlike the hero and I got that part. So despite having written the thing I didn’t get the lead and someone else got to wear my hand made costume.

The play was received with great acclaim but I remained bitter about my experience. Subsequently I grew up to become a serial killer.

Agreed - even if he is the best actor and deserves a big part on merit, others wouldn’t see it that way and you’d just be setting him and you up for years of resentment from others. I’m sure your wife will understand.

Would the costume fit just about any kid?

I agree with most, I wouldn’t give the part to your kid. But I don’t have to live with the consequences. I wish you good luck.

Learning that there is a time to let others shine is a valuable lesson, as is learning to scrupulously avoid the appearance of favoritism. The lessons here might not go down easily, but they will serve him for a lifetime. Life is full of times where you should graciously step back.

In the future, the best thing to do is to excuse yourself from casting in these situations.

If your nine-year old is mature enough to know ahead of time he doesn’t want the bigger part, then the ideal solution is have him tell his mother that. Then, he’s happy not having jealous peers, you’re happy, and your wife can’t be angry that you’re doing what the kid wants.

Have him wear the great costume, but only deliver one line like the others.

A super-duper serial killer or just an average mild-mannered serial killer?
Jinx, how much bigger of a part, are you talking two lines (vs. one for the other kids) or a Shakespeareian soliloquy?

Some other kid in the play might *also *have the perfect costume for a bigger role. You open up that can of worms and everyone comes out of the woodwork.

Ask yourself a few questions:

Who will be easier to make up to once you disappoint them, the church, your wife, or your kid?

Who do you care most about making happy?

Which disappointment are you able to control the most, meaning that if you disappoint them, you can make it up to them and it won’t ultimately impact you negatively?

If this was a sitcom, you’d go for a convoluted plan, like getting your wife’s sister to keep her busy that day, over promising the other kids that you’ll get them costumes just like your kid’s, and try to convince your kid its uncool to be in the play in hopes he’ll drop out and save you that trouble. Only for all of that to blow up spectacularly in your face but somehow nothing will carry over to next week

Thanks to all for your thoughts. Always good to have a sounding board (or panel, in this case) to ask for advice.