The art of card theatre.

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Here we are at Christmas 2020.

I have been making my own Christmas cards for over thirty years, I usually make about 70.  This year I thought I should pull out all the stops, I have been talking, over the year, to quite a few people who will be isolated at Christmas so I decided to provide a bit of entertainment.

Accordingly I have made 75 cardboard theatres, complete with scenery, actors and a musical play.

I can’t write the whole play here for copyright reasons.  In order to make it easy for recipients to sing the songs, I had to write new words to well-known Christmas songs, some of which are still in copyright.  If you have every wondered why we get such appalling novelty songs surfacing at this time of year, it’s because writers and performers are well aware of the boomerang tendencies of Christmas songs, endlessly making happy returns bearing royalties.

But I can write you the introductory poem, here it is.

Be your own impresario and save live theatre!

In a year that sounded glossy and rounded,
But turned out to come at a cost
Some of the things we were able to save (and get delivered)
And some of the things were just lost.

Working from home, for so many, alone
To find what you could and could not, on your own
Going back to the Net for just one more look
At those giving advice from in front of their books,

Has not been the most cheering and comforting thing.
Along with bingeing on Netflix, while snacking on pasta
And cleaning out cupboards
To make time go faster.

We have all discovered, empirically so,
How society is fragile, as is our sanity.
A tiny wee virus has made it all go
And what we all need is the rest of humanity.

People in stadiums, visiting shows
Trips to the library, round and about
Holidays, seeing family, somewhere to go
Out there and back again – just a day out.

The year that we’ve had has horribly veered
’Twix boredom and panic
And very long queues, and terrible fear
And nothing at all and everything manic. (It’s been ghastly.)

At the end of the Year’s a traditional time
For singing and dancing and having some fun,
Nights at the theatre, shows, pantomime
And this year we need it as never before –
But how when the audience numbers just one
And the actors and staff are all shut indoors?

I have the answer! I’ve made it for you!
It comes under the heading of major self-help
Save the live theatre!  Rescue the arts!
Read on to find out how to do it yourself
How to stage it, produce it and act all the parts.

And then I continue with the play, the songs and the actors, who are card characters on acetate sticks and can be manipulated from the wings.

I finish:

Happy Christmas, impresario, and the newest of new years to you.

It’s a long road that has no turning, though it’s certainly possible to have gone right round the bend without even realising it.  I hope your road ahead is filled with better things.  I hope my road ahead is filled with better things.  I hope this was all enjoyable and there’s much less of a performance to come next year.

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If you are a recipient, I hope you enjoyed this.  If you are one of the many hundreds of readers of who didn’t get one, feel free to copy.  It’s just a box, decorated, with slots in the side and some cardboard cut-outs.  The curtains are from as are some of the characters, the others are Tim Holtz paper dolls.  You can find clear acetate on packaging, look in your recycling bin.  There were a lot of clowns in my theatre, but you could cut a photo of your least favourite politician out of the paper, and stick them to a bit of cardboard; in many countries this year the roles have been pretty much interchangeable.

Happy Christmas to every loyal reader.  This year has, indeed, been a right performance.  Throughout has continued, as it has for eleven years, except when I’m not well, or busy making theatres.  This is not an all-singing, home-dancing podcast, or an instructional video, it’s just me doing a bit of writing for you to read.

If your holiday does turn out to be a bit strange, there’s over a decade of largely cheerful writing here, any time of day or night.  Some descriptions of how I dealt with difficult times, a bit of poetry, a little show and tell of some very artistic people, a laugh, a joke and just a friend reaching out, are the ingredients of this blog. It’s just the things I enjoy, really.  If you’d like to pop over during the holidays I’ll be here, bring a cup of tea and a mince pie, let’s spend Christmas together!


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