What can a slew of grandkids give a grandparent who has it all? How about a seriously good laugh?
That's exactly what the Mead family cooked up for Bammy Mead's 80th birthday: a three-act play that kept her in stitches and tears for about 45 minutes. Each act covered one stage of her life — girlhood, motherhood, and grandmotherhood — and touched on both monumental and silly events, from the day her sweetheart proposed to the time she escaped a speeding ticket by handing a flabbergasted police officer a letter to mail (it's a long story!).
The night before Bammy's party, Sam Mead and his four siblings whipped up a script. The next morning, six other grandkids volunteered to act it out, and a seventh to narrate. With one quick rehearsal and scavenged costumes, the play went off without a hitch. After the curtain call, the gang presented Bammy with the handwritten script, glued on card stock and bound with string.
Collect stories from family members and pick the best ones. The Meads did this the night before, but we recommend starting at least a month in advance.
Ask for a few volunteers to draft the play and assign parts. To cut back on memorization, keep the dialog to a minimum and let the narrator tell most of the story, or simply encourage your actors to ad-lib.
Send the script to all of the participants. If you'd like to rehearse in advance of the gathering but your clan lives far apart, assign each skit or act to a single family. Decide on any costumes or props.
Mount or print a copy of the script — signed by all of the participants — on card stock to give to the guest of honor. And consider taking some snapshots of the play to add later on.