The Long Christmas Dinner

by  Thornton Wilder

Short Play, Dramatic Comedy  /  5m, 7f

The Long Christmas Dinner - nine decades long - showcases the lives of several generations of the Bayard family, and some of their Christmas dinners.

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The Long Christmas Dinner

by  Thornton Wilder

License Estimator

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    5m, 7f
  • Duration

    Duration

    40 minutes
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Christmas/Holiday
  • Accolades

    Accolades

    From Off-Broadway
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Appropriate for all audiences
    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Children (Age 6 - 10)
    • Pre-Teen (Age 11 - 13)
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

The Long Christmas Dinner – nine decades long – showcases the lives of several generations of the Bayard family, and some of their Christmas dinners. Wilder breaks the boundaries of time as we measure it, and invites us to partake of  “one long, happy Christmas dinner” – past, present, and future. As generations appear, have children, wither, and depart, only the audience appreciates what changes and what remains the same. “Every last twig is wrapped around with ice. You almost never see that,” young Genevieve marvels, not realizing that her mother made this observation years earlier, or that her daughter-in-law will one day do the same.

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Reviews

REVIEWS

"Like a surprise holiday gift [...] [these plays] shine like gems." - The New York Times

"Of all my plays it is the one that has found the widest variety of receptions. At some performances it has been played to constant laughter; some listeners are deeply moved and shaken by it; some find it cruel and cynical (What? The dead are forgotten so soon?)" - Thornton Wilder in a letter written April 11, 1960 to Gertrude Hindemith, whose husband, the composer Paul Hindemith, wrote an opera based on the play

Considerations

Performing Groups

  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Senior Theatre
  • Church / Religious Groups
  • Reader's Theatre
  • Shoestring Budget
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups

Cautions

  • No Special Cautions

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $45 per performance

Production

Details

  • Time Period: 1900-1910, 19th Century, 1930s, 1920s, 1910s / WWI
  • Duration: 40 minutes
  • Setting: The dinning room table in the Bayard home, over the course of nine decades.  
  • Additional Features: Local Celebrity Cameo, No intermission
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Music

  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Vocal Demands: N/A (Not a musical)

Casting

5m, 7f
LUCIA - Roderick's wife
RODERICK - Mother Bayard's son
MOTHER BAYARD
COUSIN BRANDON
CHARLES - Lucia and Roderick's son
GENEVIEVE - Lucia and Roderick's daughter
LEONORA BANNING - Charles's wife
LUCIA - Leonora and Charles's daughter, Samuel's twin
SAMUEL - Leonora and Charles's son, Lucia's twin
RODERICK - Leonora and Charles's youngest son
COUSIN ERMENGARDE
SERVANTS
NURSES
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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Non-Traditional casting
  • Expandable casting
  • Features Teens
  • Flexible casting
  • Local Celebrity Cameo
  • Multicultural casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
  • Parts for Senior Actors

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Authors

Thornton Wilder

Thornton Wilder (1897-1975), born in Madison, Wisconsin, and educated at Yale and Princeton, was an accomplished novelist and playwright whose works explore the connection between the commonplace and the cosmic dimensions of human experience.

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The Long Christmas Dinner was first produced November 25, 1931 in a joint performance by the Yale Dramatic Association and the Vassar Philaletheis at the Yale University theater in New Haven, Connecticut, along with Love and How to Cure It, Such Things Only Happen in Books, and The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden.

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