One for the Holidays

By on 28 November, 2016 in Holidays, Sarah Thornton with 0 Comments

“The Three Wise Men sound very generous, but what you’ve got to remember is that those gifts were joint Christmas and birthday presents.” – Jimmy Carr

I’ve always been a big fan of the holidays. I love the twinkly lights, the crisp air, the smell of working fireplaces floating on the wind, the music, the movies, and the spirit of togetherness and goodwill toward our fellow humans. There are a few themes that run through all stories told at Christmastime: giving to those less fortunate, sacrificing for the good of others, putting our day to day worries on the shelf in exchange for celebration and gratitude. M3A artwork

The Cloverdale Playhouse brings our audiences just such a story this December, in our Montgomery Little Theatre tribute production directed by the fabulous Eleanor K. Davis. Yes, it is a “traditional” Christmas story in many ways, but Sam and Bella Spewack’s My Three Angels has a few surprises. For one, our Christmas story takes place in tropical French Guiana where the weather is better suited for t-shirts than ugly Christmas sweaters. A kind-hearted shopkeeper and his deserving family have fallen upon hard times because the generous, honest patriarch of the household extends credit to everyone and is often exploited by those to whom he shows kindness. And just as in the first Christmas story, there are three generous wise guys who bring blessings and gifts to a young family that is in need of help. However, in our story, our Magi come in the surprising form of three Devil’s Island convicts in a work-release program. Our “angels,” as they are called in the title, don’t come down from heaven as Clarence the Angel did to show George Bailey that friendship makes a man rich. Instead, they come down from the rooftop they are repairing and use their criminal know-how for good in order to help the shopkeeper’s family.

There are also Scrooge-like characters present in our tale who worship those anti-Christmas sentiments of greed, corruption, and personal gain, turning up their noses at the ideas of love, kindness, and compassion. I’d tell you where our story twists in regards to those nasty fellows, but I don’t want to give anything away!

There is another theme present in this story that strikes a particular chord with me these days. Unfortunately, we live in a world where many times people are judged based on their circumstances, what they happen to be wearing, the color of their skin, the culture in which they were raised. It becomes harder and harder to trust each other, to reach out to one another, to find common ground. I, for one, think that the holidays are a good time to look inward and search your heart for a way to bridge the things that divide us, to seek to help fellow travelers rather than turn them away from your inn’s doorway. In My Three Angels, the convicts look like criminals, and indeed, they have committed some heinous crimes. However, they teach us that there is good inside of everyone, that forgiveness and positive change are possible, that we must not write anyone off without first walking in their shoes. I hope that we can all remember in this holiday season that we are all on this same Earth together, and that makes us one people. Compassion, grace, kindness, generosity, those are things worth fighting to hold onto, and my Christmas wish for is you all to be showered in those blessings.

Get your tickets for Sam and Bella Spewack’s My Three Angels at the Cloverdale Playhouse, running December 8-18. Visit www.cloverdaleplayhouse.org or call the box office at (334) 262-1530 for more information.

Sarah Walker Thornton is the Artistic Director of the Cloverdale Playhouse, who walks like a New Yorker and waves like an Alabama girl. She is a product of a Montgomery arts education, with several years of life in NYC thrown in for extra flavor.

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