Sent  10/26/17
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The Great Dickens Christmas Fair Missive
Great Dickens Christmas Fair 2017 - October Missive #6
Notes from your Missive Maven:
It's almost time for workshops to begin, updated schedules, map and descriptions are on the missive site and the stockings are hung by the chimney... oh wait, wrong continent.

See you bright and early Saturday morning at 10am at Oceana High School in Pacifica! make sure to get there a little early to allow for parking and the happy greeting of old friends and new.


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

Producers Message ~ Dickens 2017

The annual gathering we call the Great Dickens Christmas Fair has become an important tradition in our lives, and in the lives of so many Bay Area residents and visitors.  This year we have a special opportunity to provide a valuable service to our guests, and to each other, as we create a joyful respite from the countless difficulties of today.  Our combined efforts create something beautiful, life affirming, and reassuring in the world.  Thank you!
We are celebrating the 35th season of these merriments.  Since we brought it back in 2000, we can all be very proud of how, as a community, we have refined, expanded, and deepened the quality and value of this completely unique event.  The Dickens Christmas Fair is now a well established show, and an important part of the Cow Palace's year.  Their first-ever female CEO is great.  She has begun to handle some long overdue repairs to the roof, ventilation, and the bathrooms, with more to come. 
The Dickens Christmas Fair began all the way back in 1970, less than two years after Disney released "Oliver," (watch it again!).  Our founders took some inspiration from this wonderful film, but it was the passion we all share for theatrical living history and audience participation and that really brought it to life.  This year, Hollywood is coming out with "The Man Who Invented Christmas," with Christopher Plumber.  Hopefully it will become a classic in its own right!
The children of the Fair, and all the young ones who enter our gates, benefit in many ways from the experiences created by the Fair.  Please give extra care this season to acknowledging them, providing new pathways into the magic.  Engage their characters in the streets, find the time to mentor, or simply slow down enough to give way with a gentle greeting.  
The way we treat one another as adults is just as important.  Respecting personal boundaries and behaving with genteel kindness must be our norm.  We need to create within our community, a total commitment to mutual respect.  Our goal is to foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable, respected and safe.  Please take our new workshop: "Playing it Safe ~ how to manage boundaries in a theatrical environment."
Those who have lost homes in the Northern California fires will be needing help to heal emotionally as well as rebuild.  We are offering free admission during the first two weekends of the Fair to those who have lost their homes.  If you know of anyone, please have them email and we will put tickets at Will Call for them.
New "snow!"  We are eliminating the use of sawdust in the streets of the Fair.  Instead, we will be using professional theatrical snow that will give us the look we want without creating irritating dust particles.  This is a different, more robust, snow product than we used previously.
Toys!  We are setting a goal this year of collecting 1,000 toys from our participant community for "Operation Santa Clause" run by the Daly City Fire Department.   If each of us brings just ONE new, unwrapped toy, we will achieve this goal.  Please bring your toy(s) to the Pass house beginning Dress Rehearsal weekend at the Cow Palace, not Pacifica.
Let us join together, once again, to create our "home for the holidays" and welcome in all those who have need of it, perhaps now more than ever.
Yours in merriment,
Kevin & Leslie Patterson

Workshops: The Holly Strewn Path to Making the Best Fair Ever

(from Therese Porter)

Unlike stage events that have the luxury of extended preparation time, we create our uniquely immersive audience-centered magic through three weekends of workshops and rehearsal. However, those days are packed with informative classes and opportunities  to help you craft your character, clothe that character, and learn how to make that character speak, as well as the tools to familiarize yourself with the period (and, one hopes, Our Author), hone your theatrical and improvisational skills, and so much more.

There is a veritable banquet of offerings this year covering theatrical skills, language, history, Fair survival skills, &c along with plenty of workshops for our younger cast members. The workshops have been selected to provide as much useful information as possible in a fun and easy to digest format, so take lots of them! You really will be glad you did.

Whether you are a fresh-faced new recruit or a grizzled veteran of many Dickens Fairs past, the more information and practice you absorb, the better the performance you offer our guests will be. All of us, crossing sweeper or shopkeeper, soldier or dancer, hero or villian - any part of the dazzling human array that populates the streets of our London - can be considered
 a flicker of the Ghost of Christmas Present's torch, illuminating a shining world that allows our guests to leave aside their cares and sink into the joyous world we create. It is a world we start creating during workshops.

"It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor." 
Charles DickensA Christmas Carol

Kindness and Consideration Matter More Than Ever

We don't have a lot of time to prepare, and many of us have a great many commitments to our performing groups, so the temptation is to cram the bare minimum of workshops required into the least of time and move on. This means that the  required workshops on the first Saturday and Sunday are frequently filled to bursting, making for stuffy rooms, stressed attendees and cranky instructors. Unless you absolutely have to get everything done in one day, consider spreading out your attendance over several days. Pro tip: second weekend offerings are frequently much more manageable in size and more comfortable to attend.

And if a workshop is full and the instructors advise you of this fact, graciously remove yourself from the room and find another workshop to take. Also, be considerate to your fellow performers and the instructors by not entering a workshop late.

Courtesy and consideration of others helps us all navigate the workshop period in a more pleasant and less stressful fashion. It also a very Victorian thing to do, so it gives you a jump getting in the spirit! 

"Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts." 
 - Charles Dickens

(from Kevin Patterson)

The best rate at our partner hotels (Ramada & Days Inn) is $99+tax.   
This was mis-quoted in a previous Missive as $85+tax.  We apologize for this confusion.

If you want to book at the $99+tax rate, please use the code "Charles Dickens".  
Normal rates at these hotels are approximately $150 per night so this is still a sizable discount.

Thanks for your understanding.

Kevin Patterson

New to Fair? The Following Groups Welcome New Folks 

Be sure to come to the morning meeting on Saturday where the directors of these groups will introduce themselves and inform you of where to meet up with that group if you are interested.

Christmas Keepers
Coventry Carolers
Adventurers Club
Temperance Union
Fezziwig's Warehouse (dancing!)
Paddy West
Scum (the lower orders)
Dickens Family Parlour
Wild Geese (the Irish)
Telegraph Booth

Needed: Characters from A Christmas Carol

(from Therese Porter)

It's The Book, without which we would not be doing this! We are currently looking for a boy (or two) 10 to 14 years old. We also need two smallish children - either boys or girls - to play Cratchit children as well as Ignorance and Want. No speaking but a great deal of physical acting. Children must be poised, mature and comfortable on stage.

Peter Crachit/Young Lad (the one Scrooge sends off for the turkey)
Peter Cratchit is a boy being thrust too young into a man's estate, optimistic and devoted to his family. Two scenes, some lines and theatrical business.
The boy who engages with Scrooge after his Redemption has some excellent lines and a lot of great theatrical business.
This is a commitment of time and energy that requires memorizing lines (you may be assured that many of our audience know The Book).  These roles may be combined

Auditions Saturday at 3:00 p.m. in Room 114 and a limited amount of time after workshops on Sunday. If you have questions, contact Therese at

Auditions: Characters from The Other Books

(from Therese Porter and Rydell Downward))

The Other Books cast at the Dickens Fair portrays the wide variety of characters from works of Dickens. Want to help  put the "Dickens" in Dickens Fair? Other Books is interested! Our role at Fair is to continually interact with our guests and fellow actors. We are looking for experienced improvisational, interactive performers to help fill out our cast and populate the streets of the event with the vivid and memorable characters from the fevered imagination of Charles Dickens. All the Fair is our stage, and its throngs our ever-changing audience. This is a full time commitment that requires energy, enthusiasm, strong improv skills and tremendous esprit de corps.

Dickens' characters run the gamut of age, physical appearance, station in life and personality types.  We are currently working with the characters of these books: 

Nicholas Nickleby
Martin Chuzzlewit (English part of the story only)
David Copperfield
Bleak House
Our Mutual Friend.

We are specifically looking for the young heroes, Nicholas Nickleby and David Copperfield.

If you're interested, please prepare yourself - this is, after all, an audition. Memorize a brief monologue from a character you're interested in, or the type of character you wish to play. We'll be looking for your ability to form a distinct characterization as well as your ability to project yourself vocally and physically. We will ask you to do some cold readings and free-form improvisation.

Auditions Saturday at 3:00 p.m. in Room 114 and a limited amount of time after workshops on Sunday. If you have questions, contact Therese at

Mars Needs Women! But Flockmocker Needs People!

(from Jay Davis)

Flockmocker's Workshop is opening up the books for the first time.  We are is looking  for six (6) folks to join this crackpot cast. Cast can be of either sex. A standard costume of the era is fine. 'Steampunk-like is NOT required!  This label has been placed upon us because of the scientific equipment used, but we are NOT a Steampunk group.  

Every performer must  initially learn about the inventions presented. The ability to improv with guests is an absolute must!  Creativity is welcome.  Persons will have access to The Steam Power Flying Conveyance as well as assisting the Steam Man when he goes 'walkabout' once a day.  Auditions will be on the first weekend of workshops. Full time preferred. Contact Jay @ or 415/336-5030. Let all pots be cracked.

Dark Garden

(from Carynn Milne)

Yes! Dark Garden Windows will return to London this year! 
And Dark Garden will be at Workshops first weekend!

Along with teaching our "Window Modeling: Do's and Don't's" course at workshops, Dark Garden will have a booth for your lacing pleasure! We have a few specials JUST for Dickens Fair cast and crew that can only be redeemed at the first weekend of Workshops.

We have modified our pattern for our classic Victorian corset and all our remaining stock of Victorians are now ON SALE for up to 30% off! We will have a selection of both plain black poplin and limited edition fabrics with us! 

If the corsets we have in stock are not to your liking or personal fit, Made-to-Order corsets placed and paid for in full will have the 3 week RUSH fee waived. If ordering a new Victorian corset, it will be in the new design. 
Any MTO corsets made in our Buff Mini Floral brocade, Cafe-au-lait Poplin, or Chocolate Brown Poplin (we find these three fabrics match a wide variety of skin tones!) will be at our Signature prices rather than our Limited Edition prices!

If you have a DG corset that needs repair, you can bring it and we can take it from you then! We will guarantee the repair completed by opening weekend of Fair.

New orders will be completed by and brought to Dickens opening weekend and can be picked up at the Dark Garden Windows backstage for your own convenience. 

We are so excited to see you all and please stop by to say "hello"!

~Dark Garden 
Carynn Milne 

Directions to Oceana High School   
401 Paloma Ave, Pacific, CA 94044

You can find a Google map here.

From the East Bay
After the crossing the Bay Bridge, follow signs to 101 south
After passing Cesar Chavez exit merge to the right lane
At the Hwy 101/Hwy280 split, take Hwy 280 on the right
Take the Hwy 1 South exit
As you come down the hill into Pacifica, take Paloma offramp (2nd exit)
Turn left at the stop sign, onto Paloma
As you come to the next stop, you will see a sign directing you to parking.
From the North Bay and San Francisco
(After crossing the GG Bridge)
Take 19th Avenue south, which will merge into Hwy 280 south
Take the Hwy 1 South exit
As you come down the hill into Pacifica, take Paloma offramp (2nd exit)
Turn left at the stop sign, onto Paloma
As you come to the next stop, you will see a sign directing you to parking.
From the South Bay and Peninsula
Take Hwy 101 North
After passing the airport, take the 380 connection to 280 North
Take the Hwy 1 South/Pacifica exit
As you go up the hill stay in the left lanes
After coming down the hill into Pacifica take the second exit (Paloma)
Turn left at the stop sign (onto Paloma)
At the next stop sign look for the Workshop Parking sign.
From the South Using Hwy 1:
Take Hwy 1 north
Take the Oceana Blvd exit
Continue on Oceana
When you come to Oceana and Paloma Avenues you will see a sign for parking.

Public Transportation to Workshops 

(Many thanks to Stephen Johnson)

For the workshops in Pacifica Take BART to Daly City
Get on the Sam Trans Bus 110 Southbound (to Linda Mar Park & Ride)
Saturday schedule: get on at 8:57 am
Sunday schedule: get on at 8:27
Get off at the corner of Oceana & Paloma
Return: Sat. 4:20 pm or 5:20 pm Sun. 4:50 pm
for schedules go to

Alternate route
Take BART to Colma
Get on the Sam Trans Bus 112 Southbound (to Linda Mar Park & Ride)
Saturday Schedule: get on at 9:28 am
Sunday schedule: get on 8:57 am
Get off at Paloma
Return: Sat 4:48 pm or 5:48pm Sun 4:19 pm or 5:19 pm
for schedules go to

Facebook Ride Sharing Group 

Just a reminder that there is a Dickens Fair ride sharing group at

If you need a ride to the fair or workshops, you can post there. Even better, if you can offer a ride, please post there! Thanks!   

Daylight Savings Time Ends Sunday, November 5th

That's second weekend of workshops, just an FYI.

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: The Missive Page

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Quick Links...
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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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