Sent  10/17/17
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The Great Dickens Christmas Fair Missive
Great Dickens Christmas Fair 2017 - October Missive #2
Notes from your Missive Maven:
Sorry for the delay in getting this out to you, much going on for all of us. There will be two more missives this week, one with a whole bunch of audition notices and then the kid's missive.

More specific information on the workshop schedule will be forthcoming.

Many thanks to Therese Porter for helping me compile and edit the mass of missive mayhem.


Please remember to contact the folks referenced in each notice below, rather than hitting "reply".

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Cat Taylor
Entertainment Director
In This Missive

What keeps our guests coming back year after year while attracting an ever-increasing flock of new ones is the delightful, engaging and immersive environment we create. More than ever, we need to offer our guests that enchanting moment out of time to sustain them in the all-too frequently challenging world outside our walls. The goal of workshops is to create not just an event, but that shining other world. Our visitors comment regularly in social media about being transported to another place and time, and no one else does that the way that we do. For that world to really thrive, its inhabitants need to not only look like their characters and act their characters, they need to *be* their characters. The workshops and rehearsals enable us all to really become other, Dickensian, people. It's a lot of fun, both for us while we craft and present it and for our audience when they experience it. 

Workshops Begin October 28th - Morning Meeting 10:00AM!

Workshops and rehearsals begin at 10AM October 28th,  at Oceana High School in Pacifica and run until approximately 5:00PM. 

As always, there will be a mandatory meeting at 10:00AM in the cafeteria on the first day of workshops. This meeting is always a lot of fun and a little crazy; announcements are made, staff, directors and workshop leaders are introduced, and there is general amusement had by all. Some of the directors will still be looking for people; they will announce whether they are. 

You must be part of a group to work at the Fair, whether it's caroling, dancing at Fezziwig's or being a Dickens character. Don't be shy; ask questions of the directors and see if it's what you want to do and might be good at.

The workshop/rehearsal schedule, for the first two weekends and the workshop map and the descriptions will soon be available on the missive page
Workshops will continue October 29th, and November 4th & 5th at Oceana. The third weekend of workshops and rehearsals (November 11th and 12th) will be held at the Cow Palace - there will be a limited number of workshops taught on Saturday. No workshops will be taught on Sunday; that will be dress rehearsal day, which will also include a mandatory 10:00AM morning meeting.  

Please plan on attending these meetings; they're our only chance to have all of our performers in one place, all at the same time. 

Note: Stakeout for the vendors isn't until the November 4th (at the Cow Palace), so it will not be available the first weekend of workshops.  Please do not go to the Cow Palace until dress rehearsal weekend unless you are building a booth or environmental area, as we have limited build time and there will be much construction equipment, power tools, etc. 

The greenroom areas will be available on dress rehearsal weekend with the exception of the Royals, more on the new annex layout shortly.

Workshop Particulars

 New Folks
 New folks are required to take the following classes: 
  1. Orientation I: A Beginner's Guide to Life And Times in Our London
  2. Orientation II: All You Need to Know about Dickens Fair - A Survival Guide
  3. Either Victorian or Cockney language(Irish or Scots may be substituted for those whose characters specifically require these)
  4. Physical Characterization
  5. The "How to Pass Costume Approval" class
We would also like you to take a Character Lab or Improv workshop if possible. Please note that Physical Characterization is a prerequisite for the Character Lab and Improv classes. Please do not try to take the labs if you have not yet taken the Physical Characterization workshop.

More information on performing at the fair can also be found here:

Dickens Fair Veterans
Dickens Fair Veterans please take:
  1. A language workshop
  2. An in-depth character or acting/improv workshop, AND
  3. A social history workshop of your choice.
Further workshops are highly recommended! We aim to provide new workshops every year for your education, preparation and delight.

Take Lots of Workshops!

We encourage you to take as many workshops as possible, they are meant to be both fun and educational and will help you make your way more credibly and enjoyably through the streets of our London.

I know it may seem like old hat to some of you, but to have a real ensemble cast, we all need to work together and remember that we really are creating our version of Victorian England and should be representing our characters *ALL THE TIME* when in front of the audience. Workshops are the best way to make that happen and we are offering some new ones to keep it interesting. Veterans can be a real help to the new folks in the classes. 


Class Size Limitations

Some classes can only accept a limited number of people at one time in order to functionally teach their class. Please arrive at that class early if that is the only time you can take it. If any of the teachers turn you away because their class is full, please do not argue, but come back at another time.  

Rules for Minors (Under 18) and Their Guardians 

  • Minors will not be granted a gate pass unless their registration and volunteer agreement are properly completed. 
  • Minors must  have an onsite guardian at all times. 
Taking on the role of guardian for a minor at the Dickens Fair is more than just signing a piece of paper. It means that you are responsible for that minor in their parent's stead. 

There will be a detailed Missive for children's participation coming out very soon

Please, Be Respectful of the Classrooms

Please remember that we are guests and should be careful not to disturb someone else's home.

Over the past few years, we had complaints from parents and teachers about students artwork being damaged, teacher's desks being rearranged, trash and other issues that almost cost us the use of the school. Since then, someone takes pictures of the classrooms each morning to make sure anything that might have been moved can be put back properly that evening.

Please be respectful and remind our younger participants to be respectful.

No Smoking at Oceana High School 

Please, there is no smoking allowed anywhere on Oceana High School grounds. This is per our contract with the school, please don't endanger our relationship with them.

Please, Do Not Bring Animals to Workshops! 

We are not allowed to have them at the school. Please do not endanger our relationship with the school by bringing them. 

A Note on Video & Photos at Workshops - Ask First

Please,  before you shoot that video, or take photographs with the intention of posting either online, ask the subject whether it is all right with them.  Most especially, video should not be taken in workshop classes or rehearsals without the approval of the teacher or director.

Finding Our Way & Remembering Our Manners

Oceana is a lovely school and there will be quite a lot of us showing up on Saturday morning, so please arrive early and allow some extra time for parking and reconnoitering.

Important: There will  be two parking lots and two entrances to the school, one from each parking lot (please see map on missive site). Please follow directions from the parking attendants/security staff.    Please do not park in the first small parking lot you see on Paloma, near the tennis courts. That is reserved for patrons of the Oceana Pool, and it will upset a lot of people if any of us park there. Continue up the street to the entrance to the school parking lot, to which you will be directed by staff or signs.

Special Note: Please carpool if possible. If you arrive late and there is no parking left in the lot, please be careful not to block people's driveways. That happened last year and we'd prefer not to upset the neighbors.

The Morning Meeting will be in the Cafeteria, there will be signs directing you.
Please park only where you are instructed to by security personnel.
Please do not move furniture in the classrooms if you can possibly help it, or unless authorized by one of the workshop teachers.
In order to disrupt the school functions as little as possible, everything must be left exactly as we found it. 
Please pick up after yourself and the people around you. 

Breakfast & Lunch at Workshops 

Patrick Morris will once again have food for sale at all three workshop weekends. Expect many tasty treats for both breakfast and lunch.

2017 Dickens Fair Participants Hotel Deals

(from Kevin Patterson)

(These are just for participants, please don't share with others)

Ramada Inn and Days Inn (same ownership & next door to each other) - nice rooms and excellent accessibility to the venue.

Call the front desk and mention "Charles Dickens" and they will offer a rate of $85 + tax.  (same as last year).

They are:

Days Inn
1113 Airport Blvd.
South San Francisco, CA 94080
(650) 873-9300

Ramada Limited
721 Airport Blvd.
South San Francisco, CA 94080
(650) 583-7300

They really go out of their way to be great.   There is an elevator.  A full list of amenities is available on their websites.

Reminder: Online Participant Registration

We will once again be using the EventBrite system for participant registration, as we do for the tickets to the Dickens Fair. This will be for all participants in all categories.  

Everyone enters their registration information, and by clicking the appropriate boxes, have extra fields to fill in based on what they're doing at the fair. Once you've registered you will be emailed a receipt from Eventbrite that you will need to print out and bring to workshops.  Your registration receipt will have places for workshop sign-offs, director/booth owner acknowledgement and costume approval.  (Note that a limited number of forms will be available to be filled out at workshops, but doing so online greatly expedites the process.)

Please also note that there is a place to acknowledge that you have read and understood the 
Participant Handbook. I've just posted it on the missive site at

Once you have completed the pre-fair process you will take the completed Eventbrite receipt/registration form to the Pass House to be validated (scanned) and checked against the cast lists  so you can receive your gate pass. 

This allows us to have everyone's information in a computerized system in case of emergency etc, without having to enter every registration form manually. Last year this greatly sped up the lines and we will be doing this from now on.

All participants will still need to be on one of the director or booth owner lists, which will be cross-checked when each person brings their completed registration form to the registration desk or pass house. 

This registration process will of course not be available to the general public so you will need a password to access. 

The URL:
The Password: Registration@DCF2017

Please get registered soon and we will see you October 28th at workshops!

(from Kevin Patterson)

The cost of participant priced tickets will increase this year from $15 to $18.   Group sales tickets (20 or more) are the next best priced tickets at $20.  Both participant and group tickets are still good for any day of the event. All other tickets are now select-day only.  As always, participant priced tickets ($18 for adults and $10 for children 5-12) are available at Workshops and at the Passhouse.  They are not available online.

The last time the price for participant tickets increased was in 2002 when they went from $12 to $15.   Regular admission tickets went from $25 to $30 three years ago for the final two weekends, and became the regular admission price for all regular adult admissions last year.   

Twilight tickets (sold at the box office after 3pm) are also $18.   

As the costs of venue, production, insurance, and all other aspects of presenting a quality show increase, so must our admission prices.   We have kept the price of participant tickets as low as possible as a 'thank you' to all our participants, and keeping them valid for use on any day of the event is also an important perk.   

For a second year in a row,  our audience must purchase advance tickets for the day they wish to attend.   
"Select day" ticketing is the best way to balance attendance and avoid overcrowding on the most popular days.   The public is also encouraged to come on the first two weekends with the $7 early bird discount continuing now through October 15th.   This discount only applies to the first two weekends of the event.   The same goes for a $3 discount that will run from October 16 to Opening Day on Facebook and other platforms.   

The final three weekends of the Fair are not discounted, so the Participant and Group tickets are an especially good deal for those weekends.  Children's tickets (5 - 12 years of age) are  $14 ($10 for Twilight and Participant and Groups).   

For a complete list of general public prices visit   Please encourage guests to attend the first two weekends if possible, this is not only when it is less crowded, but when the crafts community has the best selection of their new wares.

Kevin Patterson

Reminder: This Year's Dates

These are also on the Vendors & Performers page and the missive page:

2017 Workshop and Show Dates
Oct. 28-29: Workshops in Pacifica
Nov. 4-5: Workshops in Pacifica
Nov. 11: Workshops at the Cow Palace
Nov. 12: Dress Rehearsal at the Cow Palace
Weekend 1: Nov. 18-19
Weekend 2: Nov. 24-25-26
Weekend 3: Dec. 2-3
Weekend 4: Dec. 9-10
Weekend 5: Dec. 16-17

Reminder: The Missive Page

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Contact Information
For specific questions regarding performing at the Fair, please email Cat Taylor
If your group would like to perform at the Fair for just one day (school caroling groups, etc.) 
please email Robert Young
For specific questions regarding vending at the Fair please email Vendors
For specific questions the beverage department please email Beverage
For questions regarding costumes, please email Costumes
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The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, Red Barn Productions,PO Box 1768, Novato, CA 94948
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