New York City's unusual Long Christmas Dinners: Celebrations of Life in Two Historic Locations

November 29, 2011

This holiday season, New York City audiences can look forward to two distinct productions of The Long Christmas Dinner dished up in two deliciously varied locations. The play, one of Wilder's most ingenious and celebrated pieces of short drama, is a bitter-sweet and loving depiction of four generations of the Bayard family spread across nine decades. All of the action occurs at the dining room table.

On the Upper East Side:
The Fundamental Theater Project at Holiday House

bradleytheirgartner2.jpgOn three afternoons between December 2nd and 9th, the grand dining room of New York City's Holiday House will play host to a site-specific production of The Long Christmas Dinner by NYC-based trans-Atlantic theater company, Fundamental Theater Project (FTP). All performances will benefit the Greater New York affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

FTP's production marks the first performance of its kind in the 1913 Upper-East-Side Mansion, a show house currently featuring the work of top international designers. Holiday House, which endeavors to celebrate life through their various exhibits, provides a wonderfully appropriate venue for a play about a Dinner. FTP and director Sam Underwood chose to produce Wilder's 1931 play in this space because of this synergy between House's mission and the themes of the play.

Holiday_House_History_facade.jpgFor their current exhibit, Holiday House asked each designer to select a holiday or a special moment in life as an inspiration for their design. Felicia Zwebner of Felicia Zwebner Design created the dining room in which performances of The Long Christmas Dinner will take place.

FTP's cast includes Byron Anthony, Spencer Aste, Nehassaiu deGannes, Margaret Ladd, Nicola Murphy, Sophie Sorensen, Rony Stav, Sam Underwood and Harlan Work.

Fundamental Theater Project's mission is to create opportunities for emerging artists to collaborate with established professionals. Recent productions include 3-D Hamlet at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Trans-Euro Express at the Irish Arts Center. Guest artists have included Alec Baldwin, Scott Adsit, Anthony Rapp, Simon Callow, and Michael Emerson.

If you go:
Where: New York City's Holiday House, 2 East 63rd Street

When: Friday, December 2nd, Thursday, December 8th and Friday, December 9th; All performances begin at 2pm.

Tickets: The cost of admission to Holiday House is $30, which includes admission to a performance of The Long Christmas Dinner. All proceeds will benefit the Greater New York City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.
Holiday House Hours are 11am-5pm. For more information:

And In Brooklyn: Brave New World Rep at The Old Stone House

Brave New World Repertory Theatre and The Old Stone House of Brooklyn will be treating their Brooklyn neighbors to something very special on December 18th: Four FREE performances of Thornton Wider's classic one-act play, The Long Christmas Dinner. Each performance will be preceded by a complimentary holiday buffet, prepared and served by the BNW company and volunteer supporters.

The family will be portrayed by a black cast at 2pm and 6pm and a white cast at 4pm and 8pm -- representing two culturally different American families spanning the same century of time, and sharing the same basic human experiences of life and death, love, loss and family

cast a.jpg.cast b.jpg

The theatre is located in a reconstructed 1699 Dutch farmhouse that was central to the Battle of Brooklyn. The Old Stone House also features a museum and community resource that explores the American Revolution, colonial life and Brooklyn.

The show is produced and directed by Claire Beckman and the cast includes Mark August, Cynthia Babak*, Alice Barrett-Mitchell*, Ezra Barnes*, Ghyllian Bell, David Fruktkoff*, Amanda Gookin, Alvin Hippolyte, Warren Jackson*, Kristin Janine, Quanda Johnson*, Chris Lindsay-Abaire*, Lizan Mitchel*, Linda Powell*, Eleanor Ruth*, Caroline Ryburn*, Franny Silverman*, Lindsay Smiling*, Curtis Stewart, Byron Walker, David Warfield*. Costumes designed by Martina Nevermann and the production stage manager is Stephanie Boyd.

*Members of Actors Equity Association.

About Brave New World Repertory Theatre
Over the past eight years around the borough, BNW has carved out a site-specific niche presenting To Kill a Mockingbird on the front porches of a tree-lined Ditmas Park street, On The Waterfront on a Brooklyn barge that toured the waterfronts of New York Bay, The Tempest on the beach and boardwalk in Coney Island, and The Crucible by lantern light for 2 weeks at The Old Stone House in Park Slope. BNW inaugurated Brave New World's Shakespeare Festival at The Prospect Park Pavilion with free staged readings of As You Like It. Based in Brooklyn, Brave New World Repertory has been a featured favorite of Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park band shell, presenting acclaimed productions of Fahrenheit 451, The Great White Hope and Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, based on Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

BNW's 2010-2011 season has included acclaimed two-week runs of The Halloween Plays in collaboration with Company XIV, and Arthur Miller's The American Clock at The Brooklyn Lyceum.

If you go:
Where: The Old Stone House of Brooklyn
JJ Byrne Park, 5th avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets

When: 4 Performances on December 18th

Dinner 1:30pm and Performance 2pm
Dinner 3:30pm and Performance 4pm
Dinner 5:30pm and Performance 6pm

Dinner 7:30pm and Performance 8pm

Tickets: Tickets for all 4 performances and dinner vouchers will be distributed beginning at 12noon outside the Old Stone House at the rear 4th Avenue entrance between 3rd and 4th streets in Park Slope. No reservations will be taken, except for VIP reservations for Seniors.

The event is supported in part by grants from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and The Brooklyn Community Foundation. Seating is extremely limited and people are advised to arrive early.

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