The Twelve Theatrical Days of Christmas

Originally published on http://www.takeyourseats.ie on 05/12/2020.

Photo by Susanne Jutzeler from Pexels

We’re hitting the home stretch on 2020. Lockdown restrictions have eased this week, Covid-19 vaccines are in the final stages of approval, Christmas is around the corner and 2021 holds hope for a better year than this one.

However, at this time of year I find myself missing live theatre all the more. Normally I would be enjoying Christmas treats like ballets, pantomimes and Christmas carol concerts, but with the restrictions still in place for live performance in Ireland, that isn’t the case this year. I miss the hush between the house lights dimming and the first note of the overture, the feeling of laughing or crying together with a hundred other people, interval chatting, rounds of applause, curtain calls, an audience spilling out of the theatre and into the crisp December darkness, to walk home under twinkling Christmas lights, discussing what they’ve just seen. I miss it all.

Our theatres can’t open their auditorium doors to us this December, but we can still capture some of the joy of the theatre this festive season. I can never remember the right words for the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, so here is my version, The Twelve Theatrical Days of Christmas. Just don’t try to sing it out loud, it won’t scan.

The Twelve Theatrical Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my columnist said to me, try a panto on your TV (or laptop).

For many of us, the panto is a Christmas staple. Since they can’t take to the stage, many pantomimes are going online, from the Adult Pan-demic-to on takeyourseats.ie, to Nanny Nelly’s Panto Tellyfrom the Cork Opera House, and Once Upon a Pantofrom the Olympia, there is plenty of pantomime fun to be streamed straight to your sitting room. Oh yes there is!

On the second day of Christmas my columnist said to me, read a play you love.

As the weather gets colder, curl up by the fire in your favourite chair, grab yourself a cup of cocoa and dive into your favourite play on the page instead of the stage.

On the third day of Christmas my columnist said to me, listen to a play.

Many theatre-makers are turning to radio and podcasts to share their work while live performance isn’t possible. Whether it’s listening to an adaptation of a classic on BorrowBox with your local library subscription, or a family audio adventure with Tailtiu Theatre’s new podcast, B.U.D.S – An Intergalactic Audio Adventure,” released by Droichead Arts Centre.

On the fourth day of Christmas my columnist said to me, try something different.

Moving online, short form work has been booming; perfect for trying out something new. Test the theatrical waters with the Abbey Theatre’s latest instalment in their Dear Irelandseries, or dip a toe into dance with SpringMoves Festival’s programme of short dance films.

 On the fifth day of Christmas my columnist said to me, the theatre phone rings.

Check out the Abbey Theatre’s newly announced project, Abbey Calling,where audience members can sign up to receive a phone-call performance of a poem, monologue or song and a chat with the artist who performed it.

On the sixth day of Christmas my columnist said to me, enjoy some festive singing.

You might not get to go to a Christmas carol concert this year, or enjoy a sing-along at the Christmas party, but grab your household and belt out a tune or two – you’ll feel all the more festive for it.

On the seventh day of Christmas my columnist said to me, grab a pen and get writing.

Blustery December evenings are the perfect time to settle down in a quiet spot, pick up a pen and give your own writing a go. Who knows, perhaps this time next year I’ll be recommending your play!

On the eighth day of Christmas my columnist said to me, discover the next generation.

The Lir Academy are bringing their student productions online, and Trinity College Dublin’s drama department is streaming work from their Debut Festival.

On the ninth day of Christmas my columnist said to me, think theatrical in your gifting.

Whether it’s a subscription to The Stage and other publications,the National Theatre’s new streaming service, or a stack of play-texts.

On the tenth day of Christmas my columnist said to me, tune into some literary readings.

Dublin Book Festival is well underway with a smorgasbord of literary delights to choose from, Five Lamps Festival has online offerings from poets and playwrights, and Fane Onlinehas added more events in its A Night in With… series, including delectable evenings with Yotam Ottolenghi and Nadiya Hussain.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my columnist said to me, I forgot it was such a long song…

*takes a deep breath*

On the twelfth day of Christmas my columnist said to me, support your local venues!

It’s been a tough year. Spread some Christmas cheer and generosity by supporting your local venue in any way you can so that 2021 can see a joyful return to stages across the country.

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