Theatre Arts finishes season with famed playwright’s ‘The Long Christmas Ride Home’

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – University of Louisville Theatre Arts wraps up its season of plays written by women with “The Long Christmas Ride Home” April 13-22.

 When the production opens, a family of five is heading to a Christmas celebration. Tired and stressed, the father snaps and does something his three children will never forget. Using a form of traditional Japanese puppetry called Bunraku, the play moves between past and present to examine how that traumatic moment impacts the course of each child’s life.

The play is by renowned playwright Paula Vogel, winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Geoffrey Nelson and Charles Nasby, both of Theatre Arts, co-direct. Nasby spent three summers studying visual theatre at a university in Sáo Paulo, Brazil. He learned Bunraku puppetry from artists there influenced by the city’s large Japanese immigrant community.

While the child-size puppets are made of simple materials, they are visually striking and move with surprising fluidity and grace, Nasby said. Each puppet requires three performers to move it.

“The puppets take some of the weight off this incredibly moving story, allow you to identify with the characters and laugh too,” Nasby said.

School of Music faculty members John Ritz, Gabe Evens and Greg Byrne will perform music they produced for the play.

The play begins at 8 p.m. April 13-14 and at 3 p.m. April 15. It resumes at 8 p.m. April 19-21 and 3 p.m. April 22 in the Thrust Theatre, Studio Arts Building, 2314 S. Floyd St. Tickets are $8 for UofL students; $12 for other students and alumni, faculty, staff and seniors; and $15 for general admission. Click here to buy tickets.

For more information, contact Blair Boyd at 502-852-7682 or