Eighteen years and fourteen Christmas plays later, Rick Mattox said he never really wrote much as a kid.
“I just wrote the first play kind of out of the blue,” he said one Sunday afternoon at Lair United Methodist.
The cast that ranges from infants to senior citizens had lunch in the dining hall, before the 2 p.m. practice.
Not only does Mattox write Christmas plays, he also directs them, and sometimes acts in them.
Mattox discussed a scene in this year’s play, ‘Simply Christmas’ with cast member, Pat Snapp.
Snapp said acting in front of the playwright didn’t bother her much.
“If any of us forget our lines,” she said, “we just remind him of the year he forgot his.”
“There’s two sides of a Christmas play,” said Mattox. “There’s the side everyone sees, the performance, and then there’s this side, the practices.”
Mattox said fun times weren’t scarce at play practice.
“We just kind of laugh our way through it,” said Snapp. “Most of us are related anyway.”
Mattox’s plays have been performed at several other churches, both in and out of Harrison County. His plays are copywrighted, but free to churches wishing to use them. Mattox’s only request is knowing the performance date; he would like to come.
It’s the title of the play that comes first for Mattox. The rest takes Mattox no more than four hours to write, he said.
“I’ve watched the play 100 times before I even start writing,” he said.
While Mattox’s inspiration to write came from the death of his grandmother, he said it was his mother’s footsteps he was following.
She directed church Christmas plays for over 40 years.
“I just added the writing,” said Mattox.
Mattox said after so many years and so many plays, he had written both serious and extremely comedic types, but each play always conveyed the Christmas message.
“We always work in the nativity,” said Mattox.
With the start of practice, Mattox adjusted the flood lamps that serve as the stage spotlights.
“We have really high tech lighting,” Mattox said, laughing.
The cast began practicing in October for its Dec. 21 performance.
“We put all this preparation in for one performance,” said Mattox.
After Dec. 21, Mattox said he will have a short break, but not too long before church members will start asking him what next year’s play is going to be about.
“Once I started writing them, it became an expectation,” Mattox said.
It’s safe to assume, it’s an expectation Mattox doesn’t mind all that much.