I don't wish to alarm you, but it's 49 days until Christmas.
Here, at the Three Left Feet headquarters* we love winter; it's our favourite time of year. Have a look around and you can see Elspeth lining up her chestnuts ready for roasting (not a euphemism). Andrew's on his third reading of a Christmas Carol. Jess has just actively bought sellotape for the first time in a year, and Katie, while we speak, is in the throes of considering watching a Christmas film (which is a big step in November).
Now, I'm not sure if you've heard, but we're currently in the process of auditioning voice actors for a cheeky little pre-recorded, shadow-puppetry piece we like to call The Snow Queen. We mostly like to call it that because it's based on the classic winter Hans Christian Andersen tale of the same name, so overall, it made sense. In honour of our latest puppetry venture**, the 3LF team has compiled together a list of their favourite festive stories to offer a bit of Christmas cheer amidst this bleak midwinter.
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol is by far my favourite story***. Not only is it an absolute cracker of a Christmas tale, but it’s also magical and full of fantasy, decked out with ghosts, spirits, and an air of mystery. Ever since playing Young Scrooge at my local theatre as a teenager, I’ve been captured by the story. It never fails to give me a bit of festive cheer and in recent years I’ve discovered that it has a lot to offer in terms of social commentary that is still relevant today. Moreover, there have been so many adaptations**** of it, and who doesn’t love The Muppet Christmas Carol? (If you don’t, you’re a real-life Scrooge!)
The Nutcracker, by E.T.A Hoffmann/Alexandre Dumas/ Tchaikovsky/Barbie (take your pick!)
The Nutcracker is super nostalgic for me. I used to hang these little Nutcracker storybook advent calendar things on the mini Christmas tree I would have in my room and imagine I was Marie (or Clara depending on your persuasion). I did ballet until I was eighteen so the fact that the story really took off as a ballet with that gorgeous music is the icing on the cake. Not to mention, there have been some absolutely cracking film adaptations of it over the years. It's so magical when all the toys come to life (spoilers) and the land of sweets - it's quintessentially Christmassy!
The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg
Living near the East Lancashire Railway had its perks. Every Christmas Eve I’d get suited and booted for a ride on the old steam trains; I always had the chance to bring one book with me for the ride; the journey wouldn’t be complete without The Polar Express! During the ride, my imagination ran wild, convinced that Father Christmas was waiting for us to arrive at the North Pole. Not only was it an amazing story to read but it was brought to life with the most beautiful illustrations. A perfect book with the true meaning of festive cheer! (My family did not, however, let me go on the train in
my pyjamas for Christmas... much to my disappointment.)
The Little Donkey, by Gerda Marie Scheidl
The Little Donkey. It's your classic primary school nativity song, but it's also a lovely book too! My family had a tradition that every Christmas Eve we gather in one of our bedrooms and read a Christmas story before we all go to bed. This story of Jesus’ birth told from the perspective of a small donkey was always one of my favourites when I was younger!
The Night the Toys Came to Life, by Enid Blyton
Oh, man, where to begin? It's like the OG Toy Story but with more 'wholesome Christmas' and less astronaut/cowboy conflict. I used to love this book as a child (I still do, who am I kidding), mostly because Teddy (an aptly named teddy bear) is the snuggly, charismatic leader we all want and deserve. I remember curling up in the corner of the sofa next to the reading lamp (because my mum refused to have the main light on for 'ambience'), the fire roaring, and absolutely wishing that my toys would throw a Christmas party too. Maybe this is the year?
Three Left Feet
The Snow Queen, by Hans Christian Andersen
You didn't think you were getting away without another shameless plug, did you? Hans Christian Andersen's story is the classic Christmas morality tale, promoting love, forgiveness, and goodwill to all. It was that good a story that Disney hustled the whole thing to produce Frozen (Hans, Kristoff, Anna, Sven anyone?) which was a Christmas miracle in itself. The original story, however, really resonates with our female-led company. It stars a brave and valiant female lead with young Gerda, and a shamelessly cruel female villain, The Snow Queen, which we're absolutely here for.
You can find more information about our adaptation of The Snow Queen and how to audition here. Auditions close 7th November 2020 at 5pm, so get crack-er-ing! (That one was weak, sorry.)
*It's tucked away in a super-secret location. There's an underwater volcano involved. And 14 separate mazes. We also hired a freelance Kraken to guard it a while ago, but his rates were just extreme.
**Check out some of Elspeth's previous shadow puppetry work here!
***No, seriously, Andrew IS on his third reading of A Christmas Carol.
****Speaking of adaptations… Last year Three Left Feet joined forces with a host of local creatives to record a spooky yet festive audiobook of A Christmas Carol. Have a listen here!