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From the Archives – “How Far to Bethlehem?”

July 24, 2020

Touchstone produced How Far to Bethlehem? in 1989. Thirty-one years ago. It featured three women— Black, White, Latino— which is still pretty remarkable. Written by Bridget George and directed by Jennie Gilrain, the piece premiered at Touchstone in December, as our Holiday piece. It wasn’t as raucously “feel good” as some had wished for our holiday fare, but a piece of which I am never the less very proud.

How Far to Bethlehem asked the question: where is Christmas? Where are home, family, community, amid the irony of celebrating Christ’s 2000 year old birth in a manger as five lonely characters struggle to find a moment of Christmas joy on the streets of Bethlehem.  It didn’t shy away from the shadows of racism, poverty, and alienation that crowd the Christmas light.

Three of the characters were played by Touchstone’s ensemble: Eric Beatty as Ricky, a young man who is slightly intellectually challenged; Mark McKenna as Joe, a former employee of Bethlehem Steel Corp.’s open hearth, and Sara Zielinska Capwell as Megan, an Englishwoman who has lived in Bethlehem for three years.

One of the main motifs of the play is the Puerto Rican parranda (explained here in this clip), something we’re hoping to connect to this year’s Christmas City Follies.

— Bill George

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