Thursday, December 8, 2022

Washington Bookshop Christmas is the cat's meow

Photo by Sebastian Moraga / The Quincy Valley Post-Register

I know, I know. People don't really say that anymore. It's a relic from the Roaring Twenties, an era of flappers and gangsters and bathtub gin. But in this case, it's really true.

More on that later.

An Enchanted Bookshop Christmas is playing at fourteen schools and community theaters this holiday season. That's a little short of the eighteen production it got last year, its best season to date, but still good enough to keep it at #1 on the list of full-length Christmas plays in Pioneer Drama Service's catalog.

For a long time, I resisted the temptation to write a Christmas play. A lot of playwrights have them, and I love a good Christmas story as much as anyone (especially this Christmas story). But I only have a limited amount of time to write each day and I thought why spend that time writing something that will only be produced four weeks out of the year?

But as I thought about a follow-up to The Enchanted Bookshop (it would have to be a prequel, not a sequel, because we all know how The Enchanted Bookshop ends), I was taken by the idea of all the new characters I could introduce to that world.

Characters like the Ebenezer Scrooge and the Nutcracker Prince. The Velveteen Rabbit and the Little Match Girl. Even the bratty, self-absorbed, but always very real Amy March. Not all of these are strictly associated with Christmas, of course, but all of their works feature at least one key scene on that biggest of holidays. I couldn't wait to plop them down into A Likely Story and watch them interact.

It always feels that way, by the way. Watching. I never make my characters do anything. They have their own desires, their own agendas, and the freedom to forge their own paths. I just watch and write it all down.

All I needed now was a plot. It wasn't easy making all the pieces fit. There had to be a special gift. And it had to get lost. And old Ebenezer had to be the bad guy. But not too bad, of course, because this is a family-friendly play, after all. And the book characters had to face a real risk of disappearing, but not actually disappear.

I started and stopped several times. But when I finally hammered out something that worked, something that provided plenty of conflict while maintaining the proper tone and humor, the writing came easy.

The play was published by Pioneer Drama in September 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. And yet it did very well that year and has continued to shine ever since.

So what's the thing with the meow? Well, as reported in The Quincy Valley Post-Register, the recent production of the play by Masquer's Theater in Soap Lake, Washington was a big hit with audiences. So much so that one of the younger members of the audience got personally involved.

"We have an actor playing a cat," director Marla Allsop explains, referring to the bookshop's resident feline Bombalurina. "And during our show we had a kid who would start meowing every time the cat came on. It was really adorable."

To Allsop, that demonstrates the broad appeal of the play. "It's a show that everybody can get into and understand."

I may never wrote another Christmas play, but I'm glad I wrote this one, and I'm so grateful that it seems to have meant so much to so many people.

No comments:

Post a Comment