Last season's batch of CHRISTMAS PRESENCE performances was delicious for me. Partly because the year before I'd missed out altogether - with a full slate of CHRISTMAS CAROL performances, I handed over CP duty to Kaitlin Williams and others, and for the first time in maybe 20 years I didn't get my annual fix.
Also this: for all the requisite chaos and scramble that's part and Christmas parcel of throwing together a new show on the fly every night, with set lists sometimes not even finished by our 8:00 curtain, this time around there wasn't a single night where that wildness crossed over into real stress. Honestly, there have been nights when pressure and fear kicked things over from exhilaration into stress, and while good stuff always happened, that's not where I'd rather live. In 2012, it never even got close. Some change in me? A new semi-organizational strategy that actually worked? Dumb luck, or Providence? I don't know. But beginning to end, it was a pleasure. Maybe that's why we're having a dozen of the darn things this year!
But what I did notice was this. I had a whole pile of new discoveries to read, Christmas pieces brash or sentimental or wry or theological or provocative or just plain funny. But none of them were about that first Christmas we really, at the essence, were celebrating.
Oh, I've got a treasure house of those. Loren Wilkinson's monologue about an aged and bitter Simeon. Poetry and monologues and stories of shepherds, kings, Romans, Jews - by Luci Shaw and Madeleine L'Engle, David Kossoff, Paul Flucke, many others. But you know what? Very few new additions to that list in the last several seasons.
So that's where you come in. I'm soliciting new writing for CHRISTMAS PRESENCE - scenes or monologues or stories or reflections or poetry specifically about the events of Jesus' birth. And yes, there's a prize: if we decide to use what you've written, you'll win a pair of tickets to the show, on the night when your piece gets premiered.
Length? It kind of doesn't matter. I've read four-sentence poems: I've read 50-minute stories (though the latter are pretty rare). I guess the sweet spot is between two and six or seven minutes, but honestly - write it the length it ought to be. (I will reserve the right to edit the pieces somewhat for reading purposes, particularly for length, though not adding anything: sometimes there's a key paragraph that's the perfect fit between two other pieces, or the perfect match with a particular song, and in the moment we just plain cut to the chase. You get the idea. It's that kind of show.)
You know Pacific Theatre, and you know CHRISTMAS PRESENCE. There's no need to play it safe. But don't feel obliged to be all edgy and provocative and arty, either: sweet, simple things are just as much a part of the mix as the wilder excursions.
Send your submissions to our Literary Manager, Kaitlin Williams: kaitlin at pacifictheatre dot org (Well, not spelled out that way, but you know what I mean) with CHRISTMAS PRESENCE SUBMISSION in the Subject line.
(And hey, it occurs to me that you may know of some great piece that you could recommend that you know of, but didn't actually write. Send it along! I can't promise we can offer the same prize benefits as we do for new writing, but hey... We'll see.)
CHRISTMAS PRESENCE runs December 11-21 this year on the PT mainstage,
with added performances on the North Shore and in the Valley Dec 15 and 22