Spreading the Christmas spirit

St. Bridget’s Convent take on ‘Once Upon a Christmas’
By Tahnee Hopman

In the midst of the frantic, last minute Christmas bustle, a group of Bridgetines invite Colombo to take some steps away and indulge in some true Christmas spirit. Three plays- Christmas Oranges, Letters and an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol- will take the stage of the St. Bridget’s Convent auditorium tonight and tomorrow night; and the young cast waits in eager anticipation of bringing these Christmas stories to life.

A young girl battling cancer confides in God through letters. The disgruntled and deprived children of Roche Manor slave throughout the year, looking forward to the orange they will be given on Christmas Day. Elga- the female Scrooge encounters a rather uncomfortable visitation which changes her life and attitude to Christmas.

As well known stories are given new perspectives, the cast has been through the insightful process of improvisation and experimenting with new ideas and techniques.

“Each story brings out a deeper sense of what takes place around us, muses Shenelka De Silva (18 years) who wrote the scripts of letters and A Christmas Carol. “What we hope to do is to draw more attention to society’s misguided perceptions of Christmas and to inspire a little more sensitivity to the people around us.”

For most of the cast, the experience of a full length production is a new one. “We have wanted to do something like this for a while now, explains Malinthi Perera- the teacher-in-charge of the production. “Participation in competitions alone is not enough to give children the true joy of performing. And so one big area of focus is allowing the children to experiment; to test their strengths and to have fun in the process.”

And the cast agree that this objective has been fulfilled. Amidst the pressures of other extra-curricular activities and exams, the Once Upon a Christmas experience is a welcome stress reliever. “A production of this nature means more than the usual amount of pressure on all of us, but the cast has really pulled together and it is really great to see the result of all the effort put in,” says Karishma D’Almeida. “And one of the best things about the production it keeps on challenging the perceptions that people have of characters they have seen portrayed many times over. I find for example that in A Christmas Carol, there is a whole lot more that can be given to the character of Scrooge when Scrooge is a woman- the character of Elga is far more sarcastic and her interaction with the three spirits is different too.”

“We have really enjoyed the freedom of writing our own scripts and helping to direct them,” says Shenelka, “and hopefully the audience will experience the same emotions that we did in getting into the characters we portray; hopefully they will feel different from when they first walked in to the auditorium.”
Promised to be a show for the entire family, Once Upon a Christmas begins at 6. 30 pm. Tickets for the show will be available at the entrance.

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