(This week’s post is by Asst Director/Dramaturg Erin Read who gives us an inside look at how Voices of Christmas came to be.)
In November, Nordstrom let customers know they wouldn’ t see Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving because the store likes to celebrate “one holiday at a time”. Normally, I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment. This year however, we here at Theatre Horizon have been thinking of Christmas for months. The Voices of Christmas cast is now in their third week of rehearsal, working through material that the creative team has been gathering since August.
It has been both exciting and a little terrifying to gather material for a show in which there are no rules. We wanted to create something unique for this time of year, an alternative to the many productions of A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker. Something that spoke to our common experiences during the holidays and made us think (and maybe offered us an opportunity to sing along or dance in our seats a bit). Cast, staff and crew have pulled poems, newspaper articles, sermons, radio interviews–they’ve even written stories of their own. We’ve learned well and lesser known carols, and even pulled some things from our iPods that you may never have considered offering a message for Christmas.
In order to keep track of our many options we have dedicated a wall of our rehearsal room to a giant collection of color coded index cards: pink for songs, blue for stories. Looking at a wall COVERED in index cards on the first day of rehearsal, we realized that without some trimming the show would be about four hours long! We’ve had to part with some favorites along the way (slideshow of terrible Christmas family photos? Out. Excellent parody of The Twelve Days of Christmas? Still in). At some point during rehearsal everyone sneaks to the index card wall to peek at how the order of the show has changed and what has migrated to the “maybe” and “cut” piles. I finally recovered from a necessary cutting of “Winter Song” and one day Carl Clemons-Hopkins will forgive us for taking out “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”.
The cast has been amazing; learning and perfecting songs for us to try out that we’ve later decided didn’t help us reach the greater goal for the show. We want to provide you with something smart and fun that offers an interesting and fresh take on the holiday experience. We all came to the table with stories and songs we were passionate about and each step of this process has required careful consideration regarding what to keep. We have some trimming yet to do and a few more index cards that will have to move to the “cut” pile but each day of rehearsal is exciting as we continue to shape and create as an ensemble. Our small but mighty group of performers is helping to turn the ideas we all had in August into a fantastic hour and half of theatre. We look forward to sharing our finished product soon. In the meantime, if you need us, we’ll be in the rehearsal room perfecting our harmonies, blocking our stories, and reviewing our wall of color-coded cards.
– Erin Read, Asst Director/Dramaturg for Voices of Christmas