Paula Dresden sits in the corner of the costume room reworking a very special costume. It was worn by the Honorable Quentin Kopp when he played a Wise Man in Bethlehem A.D. 2012. There’s not much to be done to the gorgeous gold brocade but she just wants to add a few more baubles.
She looks up. “You know we can always use more people to sew. Did you know that each year we have to make many new costumes?”
As creative director and most dedicated volunteer, Dresden has led the cast and crew of Bethlehem A.D. for 21 years. Anyone interested in volunteering in Bethlehem A.D. is more than welcomed no matter what denomination, religion or lack thereof, she says.
Sewing costumes is a great opportunity for a seamstress or tailor to get involved with largest living nativity in California. While sewing can be done in the Bethlehem A.D. costume room, costumes can be taken home to be sewn. Most costumes are already cut and ready for assembly by anyone handy with a need, thread and sewing machine. Attendance at Saturday workdays is not necessary. But the Saturday workdays does offer camaraderie and lunch.
Located at 1305 Middlefield Road in Redwood City, Bethlehem A.D. is held every year on December 21, December 22 and December 23, rain or shine.
The creative director has to laugh. Rain it did last year. In torrents, but the show went, drenching everyone including angels, market place workers, and shepherds. The Wise Man portrayed by civic and political leaders carried on in the rain, determined like that rest of the cast and crew that Bethlehem A.D. remained opened all three nights.
Bethlehem A.D. is free. Each night over 10,000 visitors walk through the village, interacting with the colorfully-costumed townspeople who are cooking over fires, creating pottery, buying and selling items in the market place, and giving account of themselves to the census takers. Visitors observe and mingle with Roman centurions on horseback while sages and scholars discussing scripture at the synagogue wonder about the news that the Messiah has been born. Children especially love seeing the live sheep, camels, llamas, cows, and donkeys wandering through the village. The Three Wise Men, stride through the village to bring their gifts to Christ Child.
Other volunteer opportunities include Folk Dancing and singing in the Hallelujah Choir during each performance as well as distributing flyers and poster in November and December.
For more information about volunteering as cast and crew, call 650. 386-3821 X 1302 or visit http://www.bethlehemad.com/.