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Santa tells the Christmas story

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Santa tells the Christmas story

Postby cdeemer » Fri Dec 12, 2008 8:24 am

From my 1984 play "Christmas at the Juniper Tavern." Later was on public television (which is what clip is from) and won an ACE award (for the producer). The original two-hour telecast also is online at http://www.ibiblio.org/cdeemer/XmasJuniperTav.wmv (430M).

The fine actor is the late B. Joe Medley.

http://cdeemer2007.blogspot.com/2008/12/santa-tells-christmas-story.html
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Re: Santa tells the Christmas story

Postby Steve Grisetti » Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:40 pm

I checked out some of this, Charles, and it's very good! (I can't wait until I have a couple of hours to watch the whole thing.)

Did you direct the TV production as well as the play? It's very nicely shot and good, full audio.
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Re: Santa tells the Christmas story

Postby cdeemer » Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:10 pm

Nope, I had nothing to do with it. They gave me a lot of money and that was that. I bought my first computer -- I was in my starving writer mode at the time -- a Kaypro 2x, with some of it. As a matter of fact, the entire production -- and, ALAS, this is still the work I'm best known for in the Northwest (I've been so much better since etc etc) -- was something of a fluke because a young L.A. director had a Portland girlfriend, came up to see her, they saw my play, and he fell in love with it. He was looking for a showcase project and my play was it.

The theater production also caused a political controversy and made the national news. At the time, the Rajneesh had a commune in central Oregon, everyone thought my play was about them, they threatened to sue us if we opened, the Oregon Attorney General offered to rep the theater company for free if we got sued, and so on. We opened and nothing happened (a bluff) but it got us great press for a while, including my one and only interview on NPR.

On the writing end, this was one of those plays that came to me whole in a flash -- I wrote it in less than a month. I was supposed to be working on an historical drama I was commissioned to do, and the company paying me was really pissed I wrote something else ha ha, but I did make my deadline with them nonetheless.

I still meet folks now and again who saw it, loved it, and ASK IF I'VE WRITTEN ANYTHING SINCE THEN. Jesus. There are disadvantages to having your public hit early rather than later.
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Re: Santa tells the Christmas story

Postby Steve Grisetti » Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:44 pm

Well, now I REALLY want to watch the whole thing, Charles!
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Re: Santa tells the Christmas story

Postby cdeemer » Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:17 pm

The thing that still puzzles me 25 years later is that the Rajneesh had a copy of the script while we still were in rehearsal. They quoted it abundantly in their lawsuit (not often a playwright gets quoted in a legal doc!). I don't know how they got it unless there was a mole in the theater company!
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Re: Santa tells the Christmas story

Postby cdeemer » Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:20 pm

The play still gets picked up every few years around this time. Not this year for a full production but a playreading group is doing it, all senior citizens, and they invited me to listen. I shall! And then I'll tell war stories until they shut me up.

An amazing war story is a production I saw in Greensboro, NC. The actor playing the swami had terminal cancer. He had an understudy. Scene by scene during each show, he decided whether he or the understudy would go on stage. His performance brought me to tears actually. Go down with your boots on. Like B. Joe, the actor playing Santa, he fell dead after a show (a different play) while taking off his makeup.
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Re: Santa tells the Christmas story

Postby ed » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:27 am

I just watched the whole thing while waiting for the human members of the family to get up. I really enjoyed it. It was very well written Charles; full of humor yet also with a large touch of the human condition. I thought the actress that played Stella was superb.

I remember reading about Rajneesh back then. Another in a long line of those through the ages that bastardize philosophy of thought for their own needs and wants.
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Re: Santa tells the Christmas story

Postby cdeemer » Sat Dec 13, 2008 12:27 pm

Thanks, Ed, appreciate your taking the time both to watch it and comment. It was the big "first" in my writing career: first hit, first book, first time on TV. The TV version is still the "standard" for me, though it's always fascinating to see what different theater groups do with it. I liked seeing it with southern accents in the south -- gave me some distance from it. About ten years ago, in a local revival, I did some rewriting, shortening the ending. I don't think I ever finish a script -- I think I abandon it!
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Re: Santa tells the Christmas story

Postby cdeemer » Sat Dec 13, 2008 12:29 pm

About the Rajneesh: I don't think I ever would have written the play if the Bhagwan had NOT been on a vow of silence. It allowed me to imagine him as a Zen clown. Once he opened his mouth, he talked like just another crooked politician.
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