Sent  10/18/17
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The Great Dickens Christmas Fair Missive
Great Dickens Christmas Fair 2017 - October Missive #4
~ Children's Missive ~
Notes from your Missive Maven:
Many thanks to Leslie Patterson, Therese Porter, Rickie Bolin and Robin Edwards-Harvey for their help in putting this, our very first Children's Missive, together!

Version 1 of the 2017 Great Dickens Christmas Fair Workshop Schedule (first two weekends) has been posted on the missive page!

Thank you Robert Young for your hard work making this happen!

It's legal sized this year to allow for a bit more reading room. I'll post descriptions as soon as I get them from Robert, probably tomorrow. Important - it's almost certain that there will be changes going forward, but this should give you all the basic information. Please check back every few days to see what's been added or changed. And check out some of the other information while you're there, including links to the official vendor and performer page, the beautiful new audience map and the Dickens Fair Ride Share group on Facebook.



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

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Cat Taylor
Entertainment Director & Missive Maven
In This Missive

Herein is everything a child and his or her parent/guardian should know about working the Fair, whether as a performer or participating in a booth, with the exception of costuming, which will be handled in the Great Costume Missive. We want our young ones to have a safe and fun experience as a part of our community.

Workshops for Children

With thanks to Robert Young for coordinating.
Open to children of all ages, does not count toward required workshops for adults.
There will also be an improv class for 12 and under - details will be available soon

Acting Like the Victorian Child - This is a 2 part workshop for those who have families with Children at Faire. ALL workshops are open to ANY person who is going to be at the fair. The workshops focus is about teaching families with Children and anyone who interacts with a child at fair, not only what did children do in the Victorian era, but also there will be on your feet acting parts for EACH section of this workshop for ALL participants.

Part 1 - Home Life, Schools and Child Labor (Older Children)
 The workshop focuses on the Basics of Everyday life for the Victorian Child. Children will learn about the Basic home life for most Victorian Children along with the relationships they would have had with their parents and other family members. Next, we will look at how Schools were in this era and work with improv to get a better sense of what was expected of Children in schools. Finally, we will explore the child labor which was done and again roll play how these jobs would have been done.

Part 2 - Play, Jest and Christmas Traditions (Younger Children)  For the lucky children who had time to enjoy and just play as a child, we will get to explore and play games of the era. Second, we will explore the world of PUNS of the Victorian era. Yes, we will be emerging with a lot of puns and work on interacting with our guest at fair. Finally we will end with Christmas Traditions focused around ALL children of the era. 

You CAN take PART 2 without taking Part 1

Required Minor & Guardian Workshop
As included in the message from the producers below, the Dickens Fair policy states that ALL minors be in the presence of their guardians at all times during their stay in the venue. If the minor will be under the guardianship of someone other than a parent, both the minor and their onsite guardian are required to take the Minor & Guardian Workshop to specifically address the rules and offer helpful information. This workshop will take place on the Saturday of Dress Rehearsal weekend. See the forthcoming workshop schedule for exact time and location.

Paperwork for Minors 

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 (see workshop requirement above)

Age specifications:
0 - 4 No registration form needed
5 -17 Registration form, with all appropriate signatures and approvals, plus guardian information.
18 - up Registration form, with all appropriate signatures and approvals.


Important Information from the Producers 
for Children Participating at the Dickens Fair (& Their Guardians)

(from Kevin & Leslie Patterson)
We are thrilled to have the next generation of Fair Participants engaged at the Dickens Fair as young performers and helpers.  The Children's guild makes this possible as well as providing a place to feel safe and just have fun.
The best way to make this happen is if everyone - parents, kids, and extended Fair family  - are aware of our policies and key guidelines.  Some of these items may seem obvious and even harsh but groups of fair participant un-accompanied minors created issues last year and we want to start this year with some clear guidelines that will hopefully avoid problems. 
1.  We ask that parents remind their children that while the Fair is indeed a magical fun place, it is also a business with paid guests.  We are delighted to have children feel safe and confident to be on their own, but our policy states that ALL minors be in the presence of their guardians at all times during their stay in the venue.  The practicality of this is challenging, especially later in the afternoon when many of the group activities are done.  Supervision is always smart, as well as being required.  Please be sure your child is always in a supervised situation.
2.  Children need to be reminded that security, staff, and other responsible adults at the Fair should be shown respect and that they must always follow the rules with manners.  They need to understand that having a gate pass is a privilege that can be revoked.  And above all, that the rules are there to protect their safety and that of others.
3.  The general public has paid good money to attend the Fair and expects to be treated as honored guests.  Please treat our guests (and their children) politely - at all times.
4.  Interacting with our guests.  If you are in costume in the streets, you must be in character.  HOWEVER, know the difference between gigs and bits that can be fun with other performers and gigs with the public.  For instance: No child shall apply their acting lessons on pick pocketing or begging on the general public.  These are gigs between participants only!  As a general rule, touching the public or their belongings crosses the line.  And absolutely no bits or gigs that involve payment.  Not even a penny.  Applause, or a smile, should be the only payment expected and " 'fanks Guvnor! " should be the standard response.
5. Seating at stage shows.  Please remember that the paid guests have priority when it comes to seating in our theatres.  This goes for all participants, not just kids.  Plan to see shows when the theatres are not full.  Get the kids to offer their seats to guests if they are looking for them.  This can be a great feeling and a lovely little gig when done in character.  If the Children's carpet seating is available your children are welcome to sit there, however (!) their knowledge of the shows and performers should not interrupt the performance.  Make sure they do not heckle the performers, run onstage or back stage, or otherwise spoil the show for others.
6.  Seating in the food courts.  Don't use the picnic tables & benches in the food courts when they are full (usually only a couple of hours per day).  Eat earlier or later or find seats backstage, in the annex, in the green room, in the children's trailer, etc.
7.  Games booths.  We ask that participant children wait until the later part of the day when the crowds are lighter to enjoy a turn at the games.  Remember that the prizes cost money and will therefore not be given to any child who does not pay to play. We ask that you remind your children to respect all workers at these games.  They are often kids themselves but are there as managers.  Be sure your kids respect the game booth workers at all times.
8.  Lines for the Carousel. Again we ask that participant children wait until the crowds are lighter to enter the line to ride the carousel. We also ask you as their parents and guardians, you remind them that the Carousel workers work ALL DAY lifting children on and off the Carousel and that they deserve politeness and respect.
9.  Our crafts booths.  Children should not enter the stores seeking to purchase items without both their guardians and the money to do so.   It is advisable to avoid crafts booths when they are full of customers.  Early or late in the day is best.
10.  Teach young ones to see the Fair as a privilege they have earned.  The Fair is not a free playground - it is a giant performance space and a place of business - and the Children's Guild is not daycare (or school) - it is a performance group and a fun educational opportunity.  Please teach your children to respect what a special place the Fair is. Be sure they actively show this by treating everyone with respect, cleaning up after themselves and each other, and taking pride in being part of our amazing Dickensian world.  Remind them that growing up at the Fair is a tremendous opportunity - a privilege they have earned by going to workshops, rehearsals, following the rules, listening well, working together, and putting on a great show!
As Mr. Punch says "That's the Way to do it"
Thank you,
Kevin and Leslie Patterson
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Toy Parade!

From Director,  Robin Edwards Harvey (contact information -

The Toy parade welcomes children and responsible adults of ANY age from 3 months - 99 years. Our group is dedicated to having children become performing members of our fair community. Our personal goal to is have as few kids backstage as possible because we want them performing in the public view. If you want to bring the kids into your groups or have them do gigs with you, PLEASE let me know and we can see whom we can swing your way and at what time would work out. We have some basic groups which determine what a kid does in our group. 

So here goes the long posting: 10 things you should know about the Toy parade group:

1. EVERYONE does the Toy Parade. Our timing on this is from 10:30 am - 11:05 am. Even our backstage adults participate in this one as observers along the route. We are hoping to have a new parade song for this year.

2. Mother Goose & Friends Show - 11:00 am - 11:35 am Ages 3+ Focus is on Younger Children. As Mother Goose tells her stories, she brings her "friends" who inspired her writings to the stage to help tell the stories. After the Show we do notes daily followed by Lunch for the kids.

3. Girls age 8 - 21 - Miss Twinkletons. 11:30 am - 4:00 pm. Our general rule is that if the girl has a want and can show the maturity to be an apprentice of this group, they can start with short jaunts out at age 8. At age 10 the girls become full students of Miss Twinkletons. Pam Riby is the Leader for this section and we chat daily about the girls, their gigs and request for them. They have become so VERY popular that our struggle at this time is to make sure they get breaks. Pam and the girls LOVE doing gigs with everyone at fair, but please double check with us regarding scheduling. They generally are out for 45 min at a time then come back for a mandatory rest. They are in high demand to come out and gig with others.

4. Ages 3 months + Fairies and Goblins - 2pm - 4pm. ANY child or adult can be a fairy or a goblin. We do let the children choose so we do have some VERY sweet young boys who LOVE being Fairies as well a some Girls who make GREAT Goblins. The children ALWAYS go out in groups with a fairy mum or goblin leader. They are HEAVILY photographed and love the attention. We also have plain clothes and costumed adults who shadow the groups to keep an eye on the kids as well as the customers who may approach them.

5. As of yet to be named BOYS SCHOOL! Boys age 7+ 11:30- 2:00 pm. I am THRILLED about this new grouping gig this year, it has been a wish of mine to have a boys academy opposite the girls. I am bringing on 2 new to fair excellent teenage boys along with our other resident, now 18 year old to take the boys out to do physical activities and military exercises in the street. We are going to format this grouping similar to the girls school but they will be getting their feet wet this year with this new gig.

6. Victorian Children - EVERY child in our group MUST come with a basic Victorian Costume, They can go out into the street as a Victorian Child at ANY point during the day with a Grown up or at least Older responsible teen. We have a check in and check out process backstage where our backstage person(s) keep track of where the kids are, what their grouping is at any given time, and how to find them. IF a child does not want to do any of the above, they can go out as a Victorian Child and play with a group of others.

7. Child employment services - YES, you can hire a child from us for gigs, become telegraph boys, try outs for services like the game booths, and Yes, Therese Porter comes by at least once a season looking for replacement Cratchit children. See me directly about this we try to match your needs to what child would work best for you.

8 - Nannies and Child Care -WE ARE NOT A BABYSITTING SERVICE! - However, children aged 3 months to 5 years SHOULD be with our Nannies. Our goal is to get them familiar with the fair, and the nannies enable them to get comfortable going out from time to time, at a pace they are comfortable with. To help offset expenses, parents pay our Nannies to watch our youngest members, separate from our group fee. There is also a group of mature, trusted teens who attend to younger members who need more focused attention.

9. C.H.E.E.R. cards - We started this last year backstage and are trying to put this more into the forefront onstage. These cards are positive recognition for our kids and cast members who do notable positive behavior. C-Christmas Spirit, H-Helpful E- Encouraging E- Engaging Others R-Responsible. We do this similar to what many of them already see in their schools to encourage positive behaviors. If you would like to give some of these out to the kids, come and see me about it. IT is fairly simple to do and the kids LOVE getting the kudos from anyone.

10. At 4:00 PM WE ARE DONE for the DAY! We encourage ALL parents to take their kids home at 4:00 pm. While we understand that parents may have child care issues, our acting day is done at 4:00 pm because the kids by this time are tired in general and forcing them into evening gigs is never a good ideal. You will see them out in their Victorian Clothes. The older children are allowed to go out in the evenings about the fair in groups, but must do the same check in and check outs that they do during the daytime. At 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm we show a movie to them if they want to be backstage at that time. Most of our kids leave between 4-5 pm. YES we have a LARGE cast list, but because they are children we know there will be sickness, time commitment issues, school issues which take higher priority than being on the cast on ANY given day. Most days we have between 30 - 40 people in our group or backstage.

Other Opportunities for Children

(more may be announced at the Morning Meeting on the first day of workshops or appear in future Missives)

Director: Laurie Tavan (
This group represents the progress of the Queen and her family through Dickens London (approx. 2:45-5pm) - children must be able to walk in a parade with many stops including: decorating a christmas tree on stage; visiting the fencing booth; stopping at Fezziwig's warehouse, etc... We are looking to cast a Prince Bertie (Sat and Sunday)- around 5' tall, and part-time Princess (will be sharing costuming so around 5' tall and approx. girls size 12- partial days shared role). Please note this is not a full time gig but an opportunity to participate in the Royal family while the Queen is out in the fair.

Telegraph Office
Director: Karen Porter (
The Telegraph office is the Internet of our London - speeding messages between parties in an entertaining and period fashion. Both guests and participants are drawn to the Telegraph office, a bustling shop close to the entrance of Fair, to have their declarations, proposals, presents, gossip and so much more delivered Victorian style! We are looking for runners (the renowned Telegraph boys - although both boys and girls can be Telegraph boys), writers (transcribers of the telegrams - legible printing/handwriting a must, nice handwriting/printing a plus) and assembly personnel (busy elves who add holly, roses, gifts, coal, &c to the prepared telegram).   A child should be mature and responsible to work in the office and for Telegraph boys a loud voice and strong physical presence (regardless of physical stature) are important.

Note: Karen will not be there the first weekend of workshops, but interested parties can contact her through email.

Coventry Carolers
Director: Bob Crabb (
By audition. An excellent family friendly group. From the Director: "We sing around the Fair."

"A Christmas Carol" Auditions
Director: Therese Porter (
We are looking for an understudy for Tiny Tim, along with a few children who can portray Cratchit progeny as well as "Ignorance" and "Want" from the iconic scene. We will be conducting auditions for these roles during the first weekend of workshops at the conclusion of the workshop period. 
Children should be mature, comfortable with being on stage, and able to physically emote - there are almost no spoken lines. This engagement takes place entirely in the mid-afternoon so a child could participate in other areas of the Fair if schedules do not conflict. 

At Workshops, 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.

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 for adults to acknowledge that you have read and understood the 
Participant Handbook. It is 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!

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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