After writing a letter to Santa requesting tea, James and Jamesy must deal with the catastrophic repercussions that come from having their Christmas wish granted. Audience members of all ages join them in their action-packed quest to save the world, ever finding innovative and hilarious solutions to keep them, and their hopes, afloat in a sea of tea.
David MacMurray Smith, Aaron Malkin, and Alastair Knowles are creators, performers, and educators of clown and physical theatre. Since 2013 and 2017, James & Jamesy productions have been performed over 500 times across the UK, USA, and Canada. Together, they create award-winning performances that blend theatre, physical comedy, and dance to take audiences on fantastical trips of the imagination. Their unique humour appeals to those of all ages – from children to adults – and fosters an inclusive atmosphere, encouraging of audience involvement. Complementing performances are workshops for students and the community that educate on improvisation and physical comedy techniques, while inspiring participants to overcome fears and find freedom in new and inventive methods of self-expression.
What is it like working with the other one. You have done so a lot – what makes it work?
Gosh, it’s been a long term relationship. Like the characters we play on stage, we have very different approaches to life, but share goals. Thankfully we share the fundamental goals of wanting to work with someone who values and supports our ideas, and is fun to work with. As the James & Jamesy project became our full-time jobs, it became easy to keep it a top priority.
With the In The Dark show you went in a very different and very successful direction. Does Christmas Tea forge even newer ground or is more of a return?
O Christmas Tea is definitely a return to the classic James & Jamesy relationship. Two chaps meet for tea and as James convinces Jamesy to see and acknowledge the audience, Jamesy’s extravagant imagination propels the duo – and the audience – into an uproarious Holiday epic. One major difference between this season’s production and earlier iterations is the use of some new theatre techniques that help create magic and wonder for the entire audience.
What is the creation process like?
About once a week, Aaron Malkin (James), David MacMurray Smith (Director), and Alastair Knowles (Jamesy) all meet for a cup of coffee… in a small studio theatre just off Main Street we affectionately call the Dusty Flowershop. We talk about our lives, our aging bodies, and our latest ideas for the show we are collaborating on. Eventually, we get on our feet, and try out our new ideas or rehash the previous weeks discoveries.
As much as possible, we try to have the ‘heart’ of the show be what guides decisions. We call that heart the North Star. It’s easy to get caught up with fun ideas, jokes, or fancy props, but if it doesn’t reinforce the show’s trajectory towards its North Star, the ideas get cut and added to our ‘Amazing Unstaged Ideas’ folder.
We have come to appreciate how much a group effort the creation of each of our shows has become. In our early days, Aaron and Alastair did all the promotions, graphic design, props, costumes, sound design, and a whole slew of other tasks. As our company has grown, we’ve brought on fabulous Costume Designers, Graphic Designers, Audio engineers, Technical directors and marketing support. Aaron and Alastair are the hubs of the wheels and we do our best to keep everyone informed.
What was a challenge putting this show together?
Determining what we wanted to say about Christmas. Alastair’s character, Jamesy, confronted with a gift-giving conundrum, asks himself “What is Christmas really about?”
What was an unexpected joy or discovery?
The first time we tried out our home-made confetti cannon was in front of a live audience. We’re thrilled to say it works fabulously.
What do you want the audience to experience?
A childlike sense of wonder and delight. We want them to squeal with laughter, and be surprised with their own willingness to join the antics.
This new show will be on tour throughout the province (mostly in the lower mainland). Please check out their Facebook page to find the performance near you!
Fans of Monty Python, Mr. Bean, and Dr. Seuss will delight in a rollicking Christmas romp through a world steeped in tea, as James & Jamesy present their uproarious holiday-themed comedy, O Christmas Tea: A British Comedy, as part of their Pacific Northwest Tour.
David C Jones