Director’s Notes on A Child's Christmas In Wales

Calon Lân
(Traditional Welsh Hymn)

I don't ask for a luxurious life,
the world's gold or its fine pearls,
I ask for a happy heart,
an honest heart, a pure heart.

Shining heart is full of goodness
Is fairer than the pretty lily,
None but apure heart can sing,
Sing in the day and sing in the night.

A Child's Christmas in Wales has a very special place in my heart. I am deeply fond of the original story by Dylan Thomas. I love the beautiful language and the way in which Thomas conjures a memory of Christmas that is nearly universal. I cheris the memories of the past three productions at The Shakespeare Theatre. They were a jewel in a golden time for me here, and I can still hear the voices of many of the actors (so many wonderful company members) from those productions in my head when I read quietly through the lines of the script. And though I thoroughly enjoyed A Child's Christmas in Wales each time it was produced at The Shakespeare Theatre, this time I am finding new relevance in the play now that my wife and I have an eleventh-month-old girl.

In the beginning of the play, Dylan's father says, "My theory is that the singing of songs and the speaking of verse, which is what we do at Christmas, is the only way for humans to communicate with each other." It is a wonderful sentiment in a play full of tradition, and as I approach my first Christmas as a father, I am thinking about both the wonderful Christmases of my youth and our family Christmases to come. My heart aches in a good way with the bittersweet feeling of how far I am from the Christmases of my childhood while knowing how closely I will hold future Christmases with my own child. I look forward to sharing old traditions and creating new ones with my daughter, Anneke.

At its heart though, A Child's Christmas in Wales is not just a story about Dylan Thomas' nostalgic memories of his boyhood Christmases, rather, it is about something with which we can all identity: the longing for a simpler time, and the importance of family - with its quirky relatives and squabbles and differences of opinion, and with its acceptance, togetherness and love, whether you are a family of two or twnety or whether you are a family related by blood or bound by the ties of friendship.

Our rehearsal process was both joyful and poignant, and I hope we bring you those same feelings with this production. For me, they came with the many parallels between the play and my own life right now; from the anticipation for the coming holiday, to the preparation of music to celebrate it, to the simplicity of watching my child sleep. Above all, my connection to this play comes from what I wish for my daughter - good memories, a loving family, and as the Welsh hymn, "Calon Lân" says, a happy, shining heart. I wish that for all of you as well.