Jonathan Lee

Finalist, 2017

Excerpt from 'Silent Night'

That night Mum and I went to see Miss Reiner’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar, which I was too young to be in, but was advertised through posters in our school dining room as a year-end extravaganza – for all ages.

According to a cutting I have kept from the time, the Dumfries Chronicle dubbed it “the High School’s most ambitious show to date” and for many it was also the most controversial.  Graeme Henderson, who played Judas Iscariot, told me that Miss Reiner, our new Head of Music and Drama, had already received seven complaints before rehearsals had even started. Surely it was inappropriate to perform a show about Jesus’s death but had nothing about his birth, especially at this time of the year for God’s sake? Wasn’t it true that a famous bishop had once called a Hollywood movie by the same name blasphemous? Wasn’t this the very opposite of suitable for all ages? 

It was well known that several complaints had come from parents unhappy about the influence our new music teacher was having on their children. According to Peter Lipsel, who played the Apostle Peter, this was because Miss Reiner had once been an actress in a morally dubious film in the early seventies, though no one in school was ever able to verify this. For her part, Miss Reiner - who was a good friend of my mother’s through the Amateur Dramatic Society and often came to our home - said she never understood any of it. She had no qualms about her past and she only wanted her pupils to enjoy music and question things. She certainly had nothing against God...