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Waterproof mascara for Mary

When it comes to nativity plays, most teachers at this time of year are playing the part of director, costume-designer, or peace-broker, as they cajole their pupils into acting out the story of Christmas before an audience of adoring parents.

Louise Mair, however, a secondary teacher in computer studies at the Community School of Auchterarder, is taking on the starring role of Mary in Scotland's answer to the epic passion plays of York and Oberammergau in Germany.

She is one of the local residents of Lochiehead, near Auchtermuchty in Fife, where for the past 11 years villagers have been performing their own outdoor nativity at Lochiehead Farm, complete with a 30-strong cast, live animals, and a real baby playing Jesus - all in an attempt to "put Jesus back into Christmas", as Charlotte de Klee, the driving force behind the play, put it.

"Jesus is a female with five teeth this year," says Mrs Mair, mother of eight-month-old Morvern. She has only been Mary once before - when she was 10. "It was not the same because, in that nativity, aliens came down to Earth and we had to show them what the nativity and Christmas were about.

There's nothing as ambitious as that in this nativity."

Currently on maternity leave, Mrs Mair says the part has involved more line-learning than she anticipated when the local minister asked her if she and Morvern would be the mother and baby in the nativity. She said:"I thought I could just smile serenely and be a picture postcard Mary - then I found I had a few more lines. Then I found I had to ride a donkey across a dark field under a spotlight. I do my lines, Gabriel tells me I am going to have a son, the spotlight goes off me, and I have to run down to the furthest corner of the building in flowing robes and wellies and jump on the back of the donkey where Joseph is waiting for me." But she has no regrets. She said: "It's really nice to have nativities at Christmas. Come rain or shine I'll be there - I'll just have to put some waterproof mascara on if it's wet."

Lochiehead Nativity runs December 15-19.

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