James Anderson stands in front of a large Christmas tree, adjusts his scarf and gets into character while he reads Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory." This holiday tradition is one Anderson has performed for nearly a decade.
This weekend, Chimneyville Readers and Fondren Theater Workshop present "A Christmas Memory," adapted for the stage. Anderson, 62, founded the Chimneyville Readers and is an actor and writer. Local actors Jolyne Shirley and John Howell will accompany Anderson on stage. Capote originally published "A Christmas Memory" in Mademoiselle magazine in December 1956. Set in 1930, the story touches on poverty, loneliness and the beauty of giving during the Christmas season. The story centers on Capote's relationship at age 7 with his elderly cousin, Sook, who was his closest friend and confidante.
"It has become a Jackson holiday tradition," Anderson says. "People follow us and want to know where we will read it every year. It's a great Christmas story, and it's especially meaningful because it gets right to the heart of what Christmas is about. Anyone who grew up in the South can relate to almost any element of the story."
Anderson, was born in Esslingen, Germany, grew up in Bolton, Miss., and has been a staple in the Jackson theater community for several years. He has directed plays such as "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Abridged" at Millsaps College in 2004, and directed music for Fondren Theater Workshop productions. Anderson says that he likes to adapt short stories for stage performances in small, intimate settings.
See "A Christmas Memory" Dec. 18 and 19, at 2 p.m., at The Commons Hall at Eudora Welty's Birthplace (719 N. Congress St.) Admission is free but donations are welcome. Read the JFP's 2009 story "A Memory You'll Never Forget."
Congrats, James! Couldn't've happened to a nicer person. I'm sure he'll knock "A Christmas Memory" out of the park.
- Ricky Kidd