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The 12 Plays of Christmas: Or, How to Spend Your Winter Vacation

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TheatreWorks Silicon Valley presents 'Simple Gifts' through Dec. 27. (Courtesy TheatreWorks)

Rejoice, rejoice. While being home for the holidays might seem like a redundant concept this year, you don’t have to spend them in total isolation. Here are 12 ways to give yourself the gift of a little escapist pleasure at the end of this unprecedented year while supporting the Bay Area’s heavily impacted performing arts.

Taylor Mac gets saucy with the holidays. (Little Fang Photography)

Don We Now Our Gay Apparel

Holiday Sauce…Pandemic!
Curran Theatre

Fans of full-spectrum spectacle need look no further than the works of MacArthur Fellow Taylor Mac, whose shows embody an expansive vision of queer abundance (and abundant queers). A regular visitor to the Bay Area, Mac first presented Holiday Sauce on the Curran stage in 2018, a sumptuous romp through holiday memories and songs. All proceeds of this year’s virtual offering will go to Openhouse, a local community resource for LGBTQ+ seniors.

Livestream Dec. 12 at 7pm only. On demand until Jan. 2. $10. Info and tickets here.

Golden Girls LIVE: Christmas Episodes
SF Oasis

A beloved San Francisco holiday tradition, Golden Girls LIVE: Christmas Episodes offers nostalgia, drag hilarity, and genuine heart all wrapped up in a Betty White-channeling bow. Co-starring Heklina (Dorothy), Matthew Martin (Blanche), D’Arcy Drollinger (Rose) and Holotta Tymes (Sophia) as our quirky quartet, this year’s episodes will be streamed live from SF Oasis headquarters, complete with a virtual sing-along and VIP meet-and-greet with the cast.

Dec. 17-20, times vary. $30-$50. Info and tickets here.

A Mighty Queer Virtual Variety Show
New Conservatory Theatre Center

Poets, performance artists, drag stars and circus acts alike appear on the New Conservatory Theatre Center’s virtual stage. Wrangled by Epic Party Theatre’s Richard A. Mosqueda, and hosted by operatic drag diva Dusty Pörn, this festive holiday sampler will fill you with holiday cheer. With Azuah, SevanKelee Lucky 7 Boult, Baruch Porras Hernandez, SNJV, and aerialist Joey The Tiger.

Dec. 13–Jan. 3, on demand. $10-$40. Info and tickets here.


Santa Claus (Glen Micheletti) is here to save Christmas for you. (JW Darwin)

Home Alone

Get Santa Claus
Glen A. Micheletti

Worried about how the kiddies are going to get Santa their wishlist this year? Let expert magician and professional Santa Claus Glen A. Micheletti help. Like so many other performers, Santa Glen has developed ways to bring his act online, and offers personalized virtual visits for individual family units, large family “gatherings” and company ho-ho-holiday parties.

Rates start at $150 for one screen. Custom pricing and packages available for groups. Info and bookings here.

The Jewelry Box
San Francisco Playhouse

If you’re one of the thousands of Bay Area denizens who’ve seen Brian Copeland’s Not a Genuine Black Man, this holiday prequel is for you. A richly detailed portrait of Oakland city life as seen through the eyes of a six-year-old child on a quest to earn the perfect Christmas gift for his mother. Copeland’s performance is filmed live onstage at San Francisco Playhouse, and streamed on demand through Christmas Day.

Nov. 28–Dec. 25, 7pm. $15-$100. Info and tickets here.

A Christmas Carol
City Lights Theater Company

San Jose’s City Lights Theater Company has been finding all kinds of creative ways to keep active, as this solo performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol proves. Adapted and performed by prolific Bay Area actor and director Mark Anderson Phillips, this virtual tour de force will be mandatory viewing for those who enjoy their classics with a twist.

Dec. 15–Jan. 5, on demand. $10-$30 (or part of season pass). Info and tickets here.

Cast of ‘A Christmas Carol’ at A.C.T. in 2018. (Kevin Berne)

Tradition, Tradition

A Christmas Carol: On Air
American Conservatory Theater

This beloved staple of Bay Area holiday tradition gets a socially distanced makeover in the form of a radio play adaptation, helmed by Peter J. Kuo (who also directed this summer’s successful Zoom production of In Love and Warcraft). Starring the redoubtable James Carpenter as Ebenezer Scrooge, this tale of Christmas spirit(s) continues to stand the test of time and circumstance.

Dec. 4–31, 6pm listening parties and on demand. $40–$60. Info and tickets here.

28th Annual Kung Pao Kosher Comedy

Buckle up bubbeleh. While gathering in restaurants in person may still be out of the question, there’s nothing stopping you from ordering up a few plates of Chinese food and hanging out with Lisa Geduldig and friends for the 28th annual Kung Pao Kosher Comedy show—the Christmas show by and for Jews. Featuring the award-winning talents of Judy Gold and Alex Edelman, and optional participant breakout rooms for schmoozing.

Dec. 24–26, times vary. Livestream. $25-$50. Info and tickets here.

Nutcracker Online
San Francisco Ballet

The first U.S. company to perform the “full” version of Nutcracker, in 1944, the San Francisco Ballet hosts an annual, all-ages fantasia that attracts some 75,000 audience members per year. This year, sugar plum lovers will be able to view a classic performance choreographed by Helgi Tomasson, and filmed by KQED in 2007. Features the luminous Yuan Yuan Tan as the Snow Queen.

Nov. 27–Dec. 31. $49 for 48-hour access. Info and tickets here.

Kitka does its annual 'Wintersongs' tour around the Bay Area
Kitka does its annual ‘Wintersongs’ tour around the Bay Area. (Photo: Tomas Pacha/Kitka )

Winter Wonderland

Wintersongs 2020

Get into the fun tradition of counting down to Christmas with Kitka’s gift of Wintersong. Each day until Dec. 31, this all-woman vocal ensemble—who specialize in excavating the traditional music of Eastern Europe and the Balkans—will release one new song online for all to enjoy, free of charge (donations accepted).

Through Dec. 31. Free. Info and songs here.

Simple Gifts
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

When Tim Bond took over the artistic leadership of TheatreWorks in July, he stepped into a season beset by unanticipated challenges from the pandemic shutdown of live theatre. With Simple Gifts, he offers a welcome respite from the chaos, with a carefully chosen cast performing music from a diverse array of holiday traditions such as Kwanzaa, Christmas, Hanukkah, Noche Buena, Diwali and Las Posadas.

Dec. 10–28. Times vary. $10+. Info and tickets here.

A Christmas Carol
Manual Cinema

‘Tis the season to get Scrooged, and Manual Cinema’s original take on Dickens’ classic is poised to be one of this year’s most memorable. Created by Chicago-based Manual Cinema, who infuse their multimedia projects with elements of live performance, this daring adaptation includes shadow puppets, live actors, projections, immersive sound design and original music. Co-presented with Cal Performances for three nights (and other organizations from Dec. 3-20).

Dec. 17-19, times vary, livestream. Info and tickets here.


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