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"A Christmas Memory" by Truman Capote Comes to MC’s Fall Production List
“This story is about finding joy in everyday life, and giving your best self to those you love.”
Mississippi College’s theater program will produce A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote this fall. Dr. Phyllis Seawright, Assistant Professor of Theater in the Department of Communication, will direct the production, along with student director Emily Grace Boutwell, a senior International Studies major.
Auditions are Thursday, Sep. 22, 3:00-5:00 p.m. and Friday, Sep. 23, 2:00-3:30 p.m., in room 107 of Aven Hall. The cast will consist of four female characters and four male characters. Actors should expect to read a monologue but are not required to memorize it. Closed weekend is Nov. 4 and 5. Performances will run for four shows total on Thursday Nov. 10, at 7:00 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, at 7:00 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 12, at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. in Jean Pittman Williams Recital Hall in the Aven Fine Arts Building.
The Truman Capote Literary Trust, facilitated by Penguin Random House, LLC, granted performance rights Monday, Aug. 29. Actors will perform the play as a “staged reading”, with one actor being the narrator. This way of performing does not change the story’s text, but it allows the narration to relate the story to the audience, while characters act out the scenes on the opposite side of the stage.
The plot, which takes place in the 1930s, is based on Capote’s own childhood in Monroeville, Alabama. “From his own account, these brief childhood years there with older relatives and a favorite older cousin were the only time in his life that he connected with family,” Seawright said. “We will stage it like other "memory" plays.” Audiences might recognize this staging from MC’s other productions, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Glass Menagerie, and Our Town. It will have a minimal set which will allow all the emphasis to be on the performers. The protagonist, Buddy, hears news of his elderly friend from childhood’s (Sook) ill health, which causes him to reflect on his favorite Christmas memories. The play follows their past adventures until his departure to military school.
The story pushes home that joy is in all the little things around you. “To me and to Emily Grace, this story is about finding joy in everyday life, and giving your best self to those you love,” Seawright said. Boutwell appreciates that she and Seawright work well together as a team, because she prefers to direct actors on intuition, while Seawright choreographs it beforehand.
The decision to direct this play stemmed from Boutwell’s desire to produce something not seen before on MC’s stage. Seawright also knew this was a valuable story when she first read the script. “It reminded me of everything my mama told me about her childhood,” Seawright reminisced. “It happens way out in the country in Alabama, where people living during the Great Depression had to make everything themselves. This is still so relatable with our audiences,
because everyone has grandmothers and great-grandmothers who did things the old way.”
Both directors recognize how the play’s messages and characters depict man’s purpose to glorify God in the little things of life. Viewers will find the story nostalgic and sentimental, as the plot reflects on Christmases past. “Everyone’s going to be thinking of their favorite Christmas memories and it’s also going to make you kind of nostalgic and kind of sad, because you’re missing family members,” Boutwell said. “There’s an overwhelming ‘sense of this won’t last forever’ the whole play. You’re watching his memory as the narrator tells the story.”
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