By Marc Acito and C.S. Whitcomb
HolidazedNovember 18, 2008 - December 28, 2008
Directed By Jon Kretzu
Portland author Marc Acito, winner of the Oregon Book Award for How I Paid for College, co-wrote his first play with screenwriter Cynthia Whitcomb. In this hilarious look at one extraordinary holiday season in suburban America, a middle-class couple takes in a pagan homeless girl. She hates the holidays – except Halloween, of course – so the merriment begins in October. Against the odds, they make their way through a disastrous Thanksgiving and an outrageous Christmas to discover what it truly means to be a family.
Running Time: 2 hours
C.S. Whitcomb is a scriptwriter, author and teacher of the art of scriptwriting. She has been nominated for several awards, including an Emmy, Cable Ace, Edgar Allan Poe, Humanitas, and Writers Guild of America. She has sold over 70 feature-length screenplays, of which 29 have been filmed. In addition to her own works, Cynthia teaches scriptwriting. Among her alumni, she includes Marv Ross, whose award-winning The Ghosts of Celilo premiered as an Artists Repertory Theatre production last season, and Marc Acito with whom she collaborated on Holidazed. Her teaching credits include seven years at the UCLA Film School and over ten years teaching scriptwriting here in Oregon. Cynthia has also been President of Willamette Writers for several years.
From an interview with Marc Acito and Stephanie Mulligan, Literary Manager, Artists Rep:
SM: What was the initial inspiration for the story?
MA: Years ago, a friend who's a mom in Lake Oswego complained to me how she resented being responsible for everyone else's magical Christmas. Since I'm keenly interested in the lives of women, I took note of the issue, particularly when another friend took in a tattooed, pierced art student and decided to simplify her holiday celebration. From there, the plot of Holidazed began to take shape. I wrote it first as a novel, but couldn't get the various elements to gel. So I turned to Cynthia to salvage it as a play.
SM: What are your thoughts on the collaborative process with Cynthia?
MA: Cynthia and I were already reading and critiquing each other's work, so collaborating was a natural step. This story wouldn't have seen the light of day without her. As a veteran of 29 movies of the week, she understands the mechanics of what it takes to get viewers back from commercial nine times, plus she's made it a mission to read a play a day for over a year now. So she knew exactly how to solve the problems that stopped my original story from working, whether it be changing a character or a plot point. Our agreement is that we only use something if we both like it. Luckily, we have the same taste, so we rarely argue. Mostly we try to impress each other with how clever we are.
SM: I love your characters. Are any of them based on friends or family members?
MA: All characters in fiction are like Frankenstein's monster – you create them out of spare body parts. Olivia, for instance, is very much a combination of Cynthia's daughter Molly when she was little, as well as my goddaughter Amy.
“Enjoyable holiday romp. Enough fiction to be fun, enough reality to be interesting."
"The casting was perfect, and Susannah was the best I've ever seen her."
"Very moving and added a welcome measure of thoughtfulness and reflection in a season in which theatre can be a bit silly and shallow."
"It was a wonderful presentation. I could see it optioned as a Christmas movie very fast. A great holiday show. Susannah Mars was superb and the rest of the cast were great. We immediately began talking it up to friends."
"It had a very quick and sharp wit to it."
"The acting was superb by all; the set was creative; the was writing fun! It was a real treat to be able to see this play!"