Trinity Repertory Company (Providence, RI)

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Two performers and three puppets sitting on a bench.  Puppeteers are visible in the background

Timothy Crowe and Annie Scurria (foreground) star as the parents in the world premiere of Paula Vogel's play The Long Christmas Ride Home by the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island, directed by Oskar Eustis. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

The Trinity Repertory Company of Providence, Rhode Island, founded in 1963, has been considered one of the most respected regional theaters in the country, bringing new and different works to its audiences. As the largest arts organization in the state, Trinity Rep has presented issues and concerns that address the community and offered numerous initiatives that promote access and education for southern New Englanders, including the theater education program, Project Discovery. Trinity Rep also presents a free outdoor performance program, Trinity Summer Shakespeare Project.

In FY 2003, Trinity Rep received an NEA Creativity grant of $50,000 to produce the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel’s new work, The Long Christmas Ride Home. This was the first time that a world premiere of Vogel’s work took place in her hometown, where she teaches at Brown University. Trinity Rep’s artistic director, Oskar Eustis, best known for first bringing Tony Kushner’s Angels in America to stage, has long collaborated with Vogel on projects and directed her new play.

The play takes place on a family drive home after a disastrous Christmas dinner, where the parents engage in a quarrel that causes the car to spin out of control on an icy road. This part of the play is told using Bunraku puppetry, created by world-renowned puppeteer Basil Twist. As the family’s fate literally hangs in the balance, each of the children step from behind the puppet representing them and tell the story of their lives. Vogel twists audiences’ expectations of what storytelling is and what a nuclear family is.

The Long Christmas Ride Home ran from May 16 – June 29, 2003. Post-show discussions were held after the performances, and free comprehensive study guides were available for teachers who brought groups of students to the performances.

(From the 2003 NEA Annual Report)