Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Lessons from the Bird Woman

I recently was the stage manager for Abilene Christian University's 2015 Homecoming Musical Mary Poppins. It was the most magical experience ever. And throughout the production process, I learned so much about the stage management profession and about myself.

Today, I am going to talk about the most important lesson I learned from Mary Poppins, and it didn't come from the magical nanny herself, although she had many to teach. It came from a simple woman with one song in heart and a couple of lines. The Bird Woman. Now if you know of Disney's 1964 film version, it is pretty close to the musical adaptation when discussing the Bird Woman. There are some major differences between the movie, musical and books, like always, but we will talk about those later.

Not much is known about the Bird Woman, except that she sits on the steps of a cathedral and asks passersby for tuppence for bird feed to feed the birds. She is older and probably homeless.
The audience only sees her for two and a half scenes, but during that short time they are able to see her heart. She is a poor homeless woman with nothing to give, but she insists on giving to others. She asks for tuppence, not for herself, but for the birds so she can feed them.

One of the themes the director wanted to focus on was that it costs very little to show kindness. The Bird Woman is a perfect example of that. She gives all she can to those who need it more. She shows that giving to others will help yourself as well. She is always smiling when anyone passes. When Mary and the children pass by, she is smiling even after she was just rejected by others. Her smile never fades.

We should take the Bird Woman's example, and live with a smile. We need to give with a smile, even if we have just been let down. Let's give joy to those around us. We should always show a kindness. It's only tuppence a bag.

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