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Friday, 9 November 2012

Writing for the Family at Christmas

As families get together at Christmas, there is often a lull in 'things to do' once the grand lunch is over. Board games or other everybody-join-in activities don't appeal to everyone, either. 
by LizMarie_AK
What John & I have enjoyed for a number of years, and which fits nicely into a 'quiet' slot, is to provide a reading, a mini panto, or a play of some sort. Sometimes they're worked out last-minute, but the family always listen dutifully, laugh in the right places, and shout out if it's called for. It's been such fun that I wondered if others might consider giving it a go.

Of course some people are currently busy with NaNoWriMo, but even they could put the idea in their brain section marked 'ideas for later'. I believe all writers have one of these, and that's why I'm blogging about Christmas this early.

by David Blackwell
Here are some of the 'productions' we've offered in recent years.

*  We'd acquired an Angelina Ballerina Theatre set to amuse the grandchildren. So, for two
        consecutive Christmases I wrote 20-minute 2-act plays for the Angelina characters to
        perform. The script had stage directions and everything. I did the moves and most of
        the voices, while John acted a severe Miss Lilly, narrated, and operated the FX,   
        revolving bit of the stage, the curtains and the 'lights'. Popcorn was served in the 
        interval. There were, of course, some black moments but always a happy resolution. 
        The highlight of these plays, in 'Roger the Rat Saves the Theatre', was John's FX for
        the roaring of Roger, made by that crocodile toy that roars when you pull the lever.
        The immediate response from the children was to dive under the table to see how he
        was making the noise.

*  An existing folk tale, narrated and with speaking characters, about a princess saved by a
        donkey that could make gold coins shower out of its huge ears. At crucial moments
        a handful of gold-wrapped chocolate coins would be thrown into the air, and play
        stopped while the children scooped them up.

*  A reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas, which was written in 1822. I'd taken the
        liberty of altering the text to remove any references to Santa smoking his pipe, so I
        was interested to hear very recently on the wireless that someone else was thinking
        along the same lines.

*  A ten-minute Christmas ghost story for children. Each character had resonances with at
        least one person present. It involved a family where the tree decs had always been red
        and gold although the girl would have loved something different for once. The ghost of
        a child visits the girl on Christmas Eve, and in the morning there's a new purple bauble
        hanging on the tree.

*  Usually I also write or copy a poem suitable for children, print it out and laminate it, and 
        ask the children if they'd be willing to read it for us. No refusals so far! My all-time
        favourite is Christmas by Steve Turner. Four lovely 8-line verses, with the recurring
        theme a variation on 'We always do that.'

This year's effort isn't planned yet, but now the children are older, I'm thinking a play with perhaps a ghost theme and involving social media. It might be an idea to write in a part for each of the children, too - I'll ask them.
by WaterHorse Media, LLC
If anyone is inspired to do this sort of thing this year, I'd really love to hear about it!  It can be a lot of work for a short 'performance', but great fun and, hopefully, memorable. Anyone want to borrow a story?!