The day of the Sonoma County Book Festival dawned grey and dismal. By mid-morning, at the SCBWI Green Gulch Writing Retreat in Marin County where I was enjoying a quiet weekend tending to my muse, the rain pelted the windows in sheets. Things did not look good for my outdoor stage performance on the children's stage. Author Janie Havemeyer (Catherine de Medici, The Black Queen, Goosebottom Books, 2011) and I had been invited to present our books for the festival.Festival readings are often challenging because they tend to draw a younger crowd than our books' target age range (9 - 13). So, Janie and I developed a brilliant plan. We would dress up as our characters, Catherine de Medici and Empress Cixi of China and call our presentation, "A Conversation with Two Dastardly Dames". You can't go wrong with costumes for a younger audience. We met a few times prior to the book festival to write the script and spent several hours the day before at Green Gulch rehearsing our roles. We were ready to roll. But the children's stage was supposed to be outdoors, and who would come out to the book festival in the rain? Despite the nervousness associated with a public presentation, when you put in a lot of time and effort to craft that presentation, you'd like to perform to an audience of more than—one.
As it turned out, the rain was quite a bit lighter in Santa Rosa, only a misty drizzle by the time we got there, the children's stage had been moved under a covered area, and families with kids did turn out to enjoy the event. Author Mac Barnett presented before us, which put us in a good spot, because he ALWAYS draws a crowd.
Janie and I changed into our costumes and by the time we took the stage, parents and kids had filled the seats. Phew! The microphone helped to broadcast the performance, and very soon, it was standing room only.
Now, I'm not an actress and I was definitely outside my comfort zone. Janie slipped into her role as Catherine much more easily than I did trying to channel Cixi, but you know what? We had a blast. The audience seemed engaged. And, it was a great way to tell the Dames' stories through (what we hoped was a witty) repartee. And we'd do it again!
|Authors Janie Havemeyer as Catherine de Medici, |
The Black Queen, and Natasha Yim as Cixi, The Dragon Empress
at the Sonoma County Book Festival, Sept. 2013