Christmas in October! Kirsten Chandler on Directing and Christmas.
How do you choose the shows you work on … or do they chose you?
Usually, they choose me. Theatre companies plan their seasons, and then they figure out which directors they enjoy working with, and who would fit certain projects. In this case, I’m fairly certain that the artistic director of SDMT figured my personality is perfectly suited to something like “A Christmas Story”… not only because it’s one of my favorite movies, but also because its sense of humor is a little twisted… just like mine.
What kinds of projects do you want to work more on?
I love new works. Developing a piece of theatre from the ground up is a thrill, and I really would love to lend my “eye” to more new pieces of theatre! I also love story-driven musicals… those that are less about spectacle and more about the human condition. And finally… I have directed a few plays and found it extremely satisfying creatively. More plays!
How do you find growth in your field?
By taking on projects that scare me, and also by trying to puzzle out shows that might not totally “work”. I love trying to wrap my artistic eye around a flawed piece of theatre.
What /who inspires you in your career and why?
I’m inspired daily by my colleagues; wherever I work, I find inspiration in each artist’s daily bravery and creativity. The only people who don’t inspire me are those who take their good fortune for granted, or who speak negatively about others.
Watching a live show is popular holiday tradition, what is your favorite holiday tradition?
Baking. I bake approximately 25 different varieties of cookies during the holiday season, and always am looking for new recipes! Then, we distribute said cookies to friends and family. Oh, and also we eat them. Eating them is very important.
What to do you most like about A Christmas Story?
I love the script, since it is essentially the movie. Which I know like the back of my hand.
What is the biggest challenge this show posses for you?
To live up to the side-splitting humor of the original, with those indelible performances by veterans like Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin. It was really important to me to find actors who make me laugh. I think the audiences will approve.
How is working with children different than working with adults?
If the kids are smart and talented (and these kids are!), they receive direction just the same way the most trained adult actors do- with ease and grace. They amaze me. I just have to follow Ralphie’s lead, and say “fudge” whenever they’re around. Or else, I’ll owe each of them a quarter.
What do you want the audience to take away?
So much laughter. I also hope they all walk away from the show recounting their own childhood Christmas memories.
What is your favorite holiday movie?
Besides A Christmas Story, you mean? 😏 Why, It’s a Wonderful Life… of course!