The Magic Maker by Susan Cooper

The Magic Maker by Susan Cooper

Author:Susan Cooper [Cooper, Susan]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5657-7
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Published: 2011-07-26T16:00:00+00:00


“It came out of so many things,” Jack said about thirty years ago, looking back. “The carols, and the folklore I’d taught to children . . . knowing Carol Preston, and May Gadd . . . having played St. George once when I was young . . . and wanting to relate things with early roots to modern forms of art, through Mary Craighill and the young dance company she had in Washington. . . . I thought I could dovetail all those things, which was what always interested me when I was building my own programs.”

For the first time now, he was building not just a program, but a theatrical performance that was also a community event. It would be a great big public carol party, with Jack as the master of ceremonies, just as his father, Meredith, had presided over the Brooklyn Heights Christmas family gathering. The party would be held twice, in two ambitiously large spaces, each seating about 1,500 people: first at New York’s Town Hall, on West 43rd Street, and six days later at Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, D.C. Jack made the advance payments for the theater rentals out of his own not very deep pocket, and he had the Colbert agency, who booked his own concerts, as managers.

The program itself was full of his memories and his friends. From his days as a choirboy he had loved the sound of trumpets soaring above massed voices, so he hired the New York Brass Quintet. “We had them up in the audience for the carols — it was very exciting.” Through teacher friends he acquired some singing children from the progressive City and Country School, in Greenwich Village. From Washington, D.C., where after two years at Potomac he now had nearly as many friends as in New York, he brought an experimental dance group recently formed by the dancer Mary Craighill, and he enlisted the Morris team he knew so well from Pinewoods summers. History doesn’t record whether all these people had time for more than one rehearsal, but it probably didn’t matter; the glue that held them all together was the voice, presence, and personality of their singer-director.

At the single New York performance, he came onstage and spoke to the audience, welcoming them, charming them, and telling them what to expect. Then after a rousing introduction from the brass quintet, the Morris men danced, in half-light, the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, each of them holding a full set of antlers to his head. (This had, and has, an eerie quality in Revels, though in its English village of origin, where it still survives, a line of Morris men and traditional figures dance outdoors to a set of jaunty tunes all day long.) Then up came the lights and back came Jack, to lead the audience in “Deck the Hall with Boughs of Holly.” And for the rest of the evening, performance and communal singing alternated.

The Morris men danced the stick-clashing “Brighton Camp,” and everybody sang “Silent Night.



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