Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tree Lighting Skate-tacular: A Talk with Playwright Jon Caren

We are one week away from the Tree Lighting Skate-tacular at Bank of America Winter Village! The park’s Dan Fishman recently spoke with playwright Jon Caren, who wrote the evening’s original story, The Lights Before Christmas. It will be narrated for the first time on December 1 by famed New Yorker Danny Aiello and will feature skating performances by Olympic skaters Nancy Kerrigan, Brian Boitano, and Johnny Weir.
Playwright Jon Caren

Dan Fishman: Can you tell folks a bit about the story itself?

Jon Caren: We ended up with a story about personified light – the Light Family. Light usually illuminates other objects or actors, but in our story, we are celebrating light itself and turning light into memorable characters. It is also a story about giving what we can, no matter how small, and how we collectively shine brighter when we all allow our inner lights to shine. We hope it’s something that children and adults can appreciate for very different reasons. And it should be visually stunning as well!

DF: What most excited you about the opportunity to write this story?

JC: I wanted to be a part of something cultural in the city outside of a theater; to literally go outside and tell a story to such a large audience. And for free! I love New York and to contribute to the holiday spirit in the city was something that I felt passionate about. I wanted the story to feel fresh and witty, but heartwarming at the same time. There’s a cynicism in this world, especially today, that the holidays somehow melt away, even if just for a moment, and I wanted this show to be that moment. It’s an experience that will hopefully re-lift everybody’s spirits and remind everyone what truly matters. All together. In the cold. In a public park.

DF: What’s your background as a writer?

JC: I’m a playwright. I grew up in L.A. and I’ve spent quite a bit of time travelling between L.A. and New York writing for both TV and theater. Currently my play Need to Know is running in LA at a theater called Rogue Machine, and I am a member of the Primary Stages Writers Group in New York. I’ve had my plays produced in New York at The Flea, The Old Globe and The Keen Company and readings at theaters like MTC, The Roundabout, The New Group, Rattlestick, Ars Nova and EST. I’m also working on a musical with the talented Ryan Scott Oliver.

DF: Do you have an all-time favorite Christmas story?

JC: Well, I love the story of Scrooge. Scrooge was somebody who had to let go of his former self, a self that didn’t serve him – in a way it helped inspire this story. Our story is about a little star who doesn’t know how to shine, and feels ashamed of how little light she can give: only a twinkle here, a glimmer there. But through the process of watching her family give in different ways, she discovers her own unique ability to shine, and along with all the other stars, they shine brighter than ever.

DF: I know that you’ll be there on December 1. Are there particular things you are excited about?

JC: I will say it’s so exciting to do something with skaters of this caliber. Generally, to be able to contribute to an ambitious “theatrical experience” that hasn’t been done before quite like this, something that could be an inaugural event with iconic characters, that incorporates aspects of multimedia as well as skating? It’s a huge undertaking. But we’re using storytelling and even the (RED) charity, to unify an experience that hopefully speaks to all New Yorkers during the holidays, and I think it’s going to be really successful. It’s a real gift to the city.


Tree Lighting Skate-tacular 
Tuesday, December 1, 6pm

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