Director June Armstrong-Wright sat in her living room, the lights on the family Christmas tree providing a backdrop almost like the stage setting for her current production "The Colors of Christmas," an hour of readings, songs and skits from the past.
"This production is really a full tapestry made up of Christmas carols, tales and poetry," she said.
"The Colors of Christmas," currently at the Reston Community Center, attempts to educate the audience in the traditions of Christmas when families would make their own entertainment, when favorite songs were sung and well-loved readings were recited over the holiday season. Armstrong-Wright describes her approach as a bit like eavesdropping on the etiquette and taste of the past.
Armstrong-Wright is one of the organizers of a group called Interact, which attempts to provide a historical perspective on events and emotions of the day. Collections of songs, readings and humor are typical of Interact's style. Much of the repertoire creates nostalgia by bringing back old songs and letters and placing them together in a show.
Working with Armstrong-Wright is Catherine Flye, who started Interact in her native England and brought it to Northern Virginia in 1976. Armstrong-Wright came to the area two years ago from Hong Kong where she worked for the BBC and dubbed Chinese and Japanese films into English.
"I really missed the theater when I arrived here and a friend told me to get in touch with Catherine. It helped me enormously to find her and get involved with Interact," Armstrong-Wright said. The two women come up with an idea, sit down with their files of songs and actors and put together full shows for the stage. They have no set group of performers. Instead they depend on their knowledge of local talent and call the best candidates as parts become apparent.
"We will do anything. Name the space and the budget you have, your preference in the kind of entertainment you want to see, and we will put a show together for you," said Armstrong-Wright.
"The Colors of Christmas" will be presented at Reston Community Center Dec. 21 and 22 and at McLean Community Center Dec. 28 and 29. For more details in Reston call, 476-4500. In McLean call, 790-9223.