There were at times several hundred people on the huge open-air stage (the audience sit inside, under cover, but the stage area is open to the sky, the elements and the changing light of evening): there was fire, rain, camels, sheep and horses, a 50 piece orchestra of local players and a 100 person choir of local singers…. all to a totally professional standard. There was nothing ‘local’ about the quality of any of the performances.
Luckily I’d brought along a little monocular, and that proved invaluable. I was intrigued by the faces - normal faces, normal children (picking their noses, being distracted), not ‘actory’ types. I kept returning to this thought: what would it do to a community to have a tradition as long and as defining as that, to know from an early age that you were, probably throughout your life, going to be woven into this incredibly rich tapestry of time, spirituality, art and craft?