Job Descriptions for Costumed Characters in Bethlehem
(in order of appearance)
Line Walkers - Costumed Line Walkers present the first impression of the reality of the time of Christ.
If a line walker slips out of character, or recognizes friends in line with contemporary language or even a knowledge of current events, the visitors will be in the mindset of going to a play, and perhaps not a good one. Each line walker is given a reason to be out there, and a basic set of lines to say. They are welcome to ad lib as needed since we never know what people in the crowd will ask or say, but they MUST stay in character and within the confines of the information that will be provided to them about the time period. Line walkers often switch off with other jobs within the city walls, as the wait in line is so long and seeing the same few people over and over in line is unrealistic.
As soon as the prayer concludes at the well, the first team needs to head out in pairs, as instructed in the training class. Second team remains in the city, switching off by two’s when the first team returns. While line walkers are in the city, they are nomads.
Soldiers - Soldiers are not only the most hated men in Bethlehem, but also the most beloved (not counting the Holy Family). They are colorful, noisy, arrogant and rude—yet they secretly represent security for the entire cast. The City of Bethlehemopens when a contingent of soldiers marches past the line and opens the gates. As the soldiers pass through the marketplace, cast members know to get in place. Throughout the evening, soldiers walk the line, the catwalks, and inside the village keeping order. They occasionally rob shopkeepers in the name of Caesar. They occasionally arrest a thief or tax evader. Their first priority, however, is keeping the cast and visitors safe throughout the evening.
Soldiers scheduled for catwalk duty will head out to the city at this time. As soon as the prayer concludes at the well, a signal will be sent to open the city. Soldiers must maintain a balance between staying in character and not being TOO rude to the visitors. Soldiers must never TOUCH the visitors unless specifically instructed to by a staff member. At the end of each performance, Soldiers will close the city by lining up behind the last of the visitors, to prevent them from backtracking and to signal the cast members when they are finished.
Wise Men - The Three Wise Men are very important to The Bethlehem Project because they are the first group of characters people see that know anything about the Christ Child. They have specific lines they say to tell the story Biblically. Wise Men MUST stay in character!!
As soon as the prayer concludes at the well, the Wise Men head out to their tent, before the soldiers open the city. When the Wise Men and shepherds are in place, the city can open.
Shepherds - Shepherds are very important to The Bethlehem Project because they are the first group of characters people see that have seen the Christ Child, and they must be excited about it! Shepherds have specific lines they say to tell the story Biblically. Shepherds MUST stay in character!!
As soon as the prayer concludes at the well, the shepherds head out to the fire, before the soldiers open the city. When the shepherds and Wise Men are in place, the city can open.
Census Taker - Census takers set the scene for historical Bethlehem. In the book of Luke we read that a census was taken of the entire Roman world. This is what brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth. When visitors enter the census room, they get a feel of what it was really like- the crowds, the political atmosphere of the time, the customs (only a man can sign Census Takers have specific lines they say to tell the story Biblically. They MUST stay in character!!
As soon as the prayer concludes at the well, the characters get in place.
Rabbi - The Rabbi is a very specific role which requires memorizing a script and a song. The Rabbi remains in the temple area for the entire performance and greets the visitors after they sign the census. The role of the Rabbi is very important because he quotes the scriptures that foretell the coming of the savior. These prophecies prove that Jesus is the true Messiah, and plant a seed in the hearts of each guest. As they go through the marketplace they can see the reality of the time, and when they enter the stable they will remember the scripture and hopefully realize the truth of Christmas.
The Rabbi must stick to the script and not ad lib. As soon as the prayer concludes at the well, the characters get in place.
Yentas - Yentas are the gossips of Bethlehem. They station themselves at the gates of the marketplace and greet the visitors as they enter the market. Yentas have specific lines they say, but also will be called upon to ad lib as needed. They are also an added security, since they can alert city staff to any problem guests they encounter as they come into the marketplace. Yentas MUST stay in character!!
As soon as the prayer concludes at the well, the Yentas head to the gate.
Gatekeepers - Gatekeepers have a very important role in Bethlehem! It isn’t glamorous, but extremely necessary. They open and close the gates to the census room, the inn and the stable. This helps crowd control and insures an organized flow throughout the city. Gatekeepers need not speak unless spoken to. As soon as the prayer concludes at the well, the gatekeepers head to the gate. They must be ready before the soldiers arrive at the front gate.
Nomads - Nomads are one of the most important roles in Bethlehem, because they are the “extras” that we use each night to fill gaps when scheduled people cannot be there. Nomads wander the city, giving a populated, realistic look to the streets. They become line walkers, shopkeeper’s assistants, women at the well, thieves or tax evaders. They become gatekeepers. Once or twice we may even need one to fill in for a Holy Family member who is unable to make it. Each nomad is given a reason to be out there, and a basic set of lines to say. They are welcome to ad lib as needed since we never know what people in the crowd will ask or say, but they MUST stay in character and within the confines of the information that will be provided to them about the time period. After the meeting held at the well each night before opening, nomads will be informed if any are needed for other roles. “Leftover” nomads remain in the city except when taking a turn as a line walker.
Women at the Well - Women at the well are a focal point of the marketplace, as the well is a central gathering place in the city of Bethlehem. Theyhave specific lines they say, but also will be called upon to ad lib as needed. Mainly they are there to gossip and complain about having to work so hard. They also protect the well (which is really Styrofoam) by blocking it from visitors who may want to sit or lean on it. We will train you how to do this while remaining in character.
Beggar - Being the beggar in Bethlehem is one of the most difficult jobs. Beggars must look dirty and pathetic. They must invoke pity from the visitors. They collect donations while looking poverty stricken, and then are robbed by the soldiers when they have accumulated a certain amount of money. This happens over and over each evening, and is a tough job. Don’t sign up for this unless you can handle being shoved around and knocked down a lot.
Innkeeper - The Innkeeper sets the stage for the most important part of Bethlehem. They tell the story of the poor couple who had nowhere to go, and how they were sent to the lowly stable to give birth to their child.The innkeeper is a very specific role which requires memorizing a script. He remains in the same area for the entire performance. The Innkeeper must stick to the script and not ad lib.
Holy Family - The Holy Family is the whole reason we have built this city of Bethlehem. They are the focal point of the entire performance and the stars of the show. They need not speak, but may find it informative to attend the training class provided to learn the details of the time period and people who lived back then. They are encouraged to feed the baby just prior to opening. Each Holy Family will have a personal attendant to see to their needs during the performance. They must realize that if the crowd is large we may close later than expected, and be willing to stay if working second shift.
Angels - Angels, like the Holy family, are part of the focal point of the entire performance. They do not speak. Angels are young women of High School age through early twenties. They must stand for long periods without moving. They must be extremely quiet when they are not on display. Angels are the only Bethlehem characters allowed to wear approved makeup. This is a tough job, but so important to the culmination of this outreach. They must stay in character or the visitors will be distracted from the baby. However, when they are seen standing above the Holy family it creates an atmosphere of spirituality that helps bring many people to Christ. A VERY important role!!
Costume Team - This is a background position that is extremely important to the success of this event. It begins as early as they inventory the costumes and repair any that were damaged throughout the past year. Then if any new costumes are needed, they may be sewing new costumes for the coming performance. Each performance night, they must arrive early to help dress the characters. One or two volunteers will be asked to stay during the performance to straighten up the dressing room and be available to fix any costumes that people may damage throughout the performance. They often take costumes home each night to launder them and bring them back the next day. Not all costume team members need stay once the city opens.
Drama Coordinator - The drama coordinator directs the entire Bethlehem drama, oversees the communication team, collects sign ups and gets them to team leaders of each character type. Recruits team leaders, researches the time period, teaches the training sessions, and tries in a diplomatic fashion to keep everyone happy at the same time. Volunteers, cast members and visitors all need to have an amazing experience throughout this whole outreach, and the drama coordinator works as long as it takes to make that happen. During the performances, she must be everywhere at once, troubleshooting, advising, making sure cast members are evenly distributed and effective. At the end of each night she must seriously weigh any and all complaints, advice or compliments to see if there are any adjustments to be made to insure an optimum performance by all involved.
Youth Coordinator - The youth coordinator gets to be the bad guy during the nights of the presentation. They are responsible for making sure that the youth volunteers are where they are supposed to be and doing what they are supposed to do. That sounds simple, but in fact, there are so many kids in the city that there is a lot to watch out for. Most of the youth are there for the fun of it, or for service hours, or to impress someone who is there or coming that night. We want the focus to be on Jesus. We want the kids to get the big picture, and if they forget temporarily, the Youth Coordinator must remind them. If kids need several reminders…..like more than two, then the Youth Coordinator needs to send that child home, and let staff know so we can fill the gap. Bethlehem staff must know where the Y.C. is so they can find them if they see a problem. On the other side of the coin, the Youth Coordinator is the liaison between the Bethlehem staff and the kids. If the kids need something, have a complaint or are mistreated in ANY way, the Y.C. is the diplomat who handles the situation. They let the Drama Coordinator know and she will address any adults that are responsible for causing problems. The Drama Coordinator will expect the Y.C. to address the youth. Together, and presenting a united front, any potential problems should be avoided altogether!
JOB DESCRIPTIONS FOR NON-COSTUMED JOBS IN BETHLEHEM
Construction - Did you know that there are missionaries here that never actually have to attend this event? For six weeks before the gates ever open, men and women of all ages come together in our back lot to build the set of this re-enactment. With willing hearts and hands they carry the wood and supplies from the garage to the back lot. They enclose the city and begin erecting the many shops and stages needed. No experience is required to volunteer. If you have worked on the Bethlehem build before, please come back so we can have a mix of people working together. We would love you to volunteer for every single hour available, or whatever you are willing to give. Can’t lift heavy things? No problem. Can you use a screw gun? Wield a paint brush? Fetch and carry or simply help serve lunch to the volunteers each Saturday. Many hands make light work!! You lay the foundation of this entire presentation.
Parking - Our parking volunteers are the very first impression people have of this event. We are looking for kind hearted and patient people who can be enthusiastic even while on their feet for long periods of time. Parkers must arrive early. The earlier the better. Visitors often tailgate and arrive up to an hour and a half before we open the gates. Things get crazy after the first half hour of opening and it is fast paced much of the time. You will slow down a lot about half an hour before we close. Must be willing to take direction from our parking guru, Gary Kot. Must be flexible and on the ball. Vests and flashlights are supplied. Dress for the weather. Comfortable shoes!
Line Walkers - Sounds boring? Just the opposite! Line walkers play an enormously important role! You are the ambassadors of Bethlehem. You keep the crowd safe, informed and entertained before they enter the city. You get a cool apron filled with necessities like a flashlight to light up curbs and uneven ground and FAQ sheet that will answer most questions our guests will ask. Quiz cards to entertain and stickers and candy canes for the young and young at heart. We need interpreters and people who can smile on their feet for long periods. If your feet give out we will try to give you breaks and switch you with plaza workers. Volunteer T-shirt supplied. Wear jeans and comfortable shoes.
Plaza Greeters - This job is similar to line walker, except you are wandering the plaza. Ready to help if needed, smiling and greeting people, answering questions and directing them to the bathroom, concessions, sanctuary, or just to the end of the line. Translators are needed here as well. The perk to this job is that you occasionally get to sit down for a few minutes. Must be willing to fill in on the line when needed. Volunteer T-shirt supplied. Wear jeans and comfortable shoes.
Bible Table/Survey table - This year we will be rotating this job with the plaza greeters so they can have an opportunity to sit down for a bit during the night. Because of this, please see plaza greeter and line walker job descriptions! When you are at the tables, please be attentive to each visitor that wanders your way without being intrusive. If you are savvy with an IPad, please help visitors use them to fill out the surveys. This makes our data entry less of a nightmare. Paper surveys will also be available in three languages. Volunteer T-shirt is supplied. Wear jeans and comfortable shoes.
Concessions - Concessions is a very busy place! Everything is a dollar donation, so people often pick several items. Hot chocolate is made in the kitchen and schlepped out to the stand throughout the night. Coffee is made to order with a Keurig—one cup at a time. Lines can be very long for this spot! With the smell of hot chocolate and coffee in the air, and a happy, expectant energy from the visitors, you hardly realize that you are on your feet and busy most of the night. Must arrive early to help set up. Must be able to operate a simple cash register, and a credit card machine. Fast paced and fun, wear T-shirt we provide, jeans, and comfortable shoes.
T-Shirt/Book table - A quiet table set apart from the rest of the plaza. Must arrive early to help set up. Must be able to operate a simple cash register, and a credit card machine. This station requires a much smaller crew, but is a fun place to see visitors reactions to the city. Wear T-shirt we provide, jeans, and comfortable shoes.
Security/Photographer - We need a person stationed at the south end of the Faith building near the office to keep an eye on the door there and to take photos as visitors come around that corner. There is a photo opportunity there with a banner that reads, “WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM”. Many visitors stop and ask someone to take their phone and snap a picture of them. We can provide a chair but chances are slim that you will use it. Wear T-shirt we provide, jeans, and comfortable shoes.
Registration/Security - This job is very important to the security of Bethlehem. In order to have access to the faith building, where the costume area, cast dinner and cast childcare is located, one must register upon arrival and receive a hand stamp. Table is located at North end of Faith building. Must arrive quite early to greet volunteers as they arrive. Once the bulk of Cast and crew are checked in, must remain or switch out to open door for late arrivals or volunteers needing to get in. No one gets in without hand stamp. No one gets a stamp if they are not scheduled and on the list for that night. Mostly sitting but must be able to jump up quickly to assist when needed
Food Prep - This job has many facets and you may choose all or some of them. Beginning in October or even before, volunteers contact local businesses to see if they would be interested in donating food to feed our cast and crew one of the five nights of this presentation. Several volunteers cook side dishes or desserts and drop them off on one or more of the nights. Some volunteers stay to prepare and serve the cast and crew as they rush to eat and get ready. Some clean up after the meal is finished and set up a small table for latecomers or for cast members who have need of sustenance during the night. Lastly, some stay until the end and make sure the remains of any food and drink is put away until the next day. Each of these facets is organized by Food Prep leaders Dale Stallings and Linda Branscum.