Chris Bush and The Last Noël: my perfect Yuletide might not look anything like yours
The UK Theatre Award-winning writer reflects on the true meaning of Christmas
I've wanted to write a Christmas show for years, for the simple reason that Christmas is magic: however old and cynical I get, I don't think that will ever change. It's also, for me, a holiday detached from any religious significance, but one steeped in ritual all the same. Now is not the time for revolution or reinvention (let's keep those promises for New Year), but instead it's when we build upon and refine the traditions we've spent a lifetime developing. We all have our own seasonal idiosyncrasies, and while they might seem absurd to outsiders, to forsake them would be unthinkable. So, this year I will bake biscotti for my family, I will drink expensive cocktails with my friend Lucy that neither of us can afford, I will read from a book of Jeanette Winterson short stories each night before bed (I know, I'm insufferable, but let me have this). I shall overeat and watch Robbie the Reindeer and fight a losing battle for a tastefully decorated tree.
My perfect Yuletide might not look anything like yours, but "perfect" has no place here anyway. Christmas is messy in the way that love is messy, and people are messy (and festive craft projects that looked totally feasible on Pinterest are messy). If The Last Noël is a show about the true meaning of Christmas, at first glance this might appear to boil down to alcohol, arguments and preposterously flavoured seasonal crisps, but of course there's more to it than that. It's about hope and song and keeping a lantern burning. It's about a family trying to tell the story of who they are through the traditions they've built together. It's about the pull of the familiar and the inevitability of change.
Christmas is for family, but family can mean anything. If we're lucky, it's the time of year where we get to gather together the people we love and celebrate with them. One of the beautiful things about touring this show around community spaces and then settling in at The Old Fire Station is we can try and break down some of the more formal barriers associated with a night out at the theatre. As these rooms open their doors to us, we in turn offer you a seat at our table. We'll dim the lights and tell you a story (or three), and hopefully emerge a little closer by the time we're done. We can all be family for the hour or so we spend together, and that might just be the best gift I can offer.
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