Alastair Knowles and Aaron Malkin celebrate Christmas all month long.
This December the Vancouver-based performance duo are touring their annual Christmas show, O Christmas Tea, to 17 cities, mostly in B.C., with a stop at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre on Dec. 16. In the show two friends, Malkin’s James and Knowles’s Jamesy, meet up for Christmas tea, when suddenly the world is flooded with tea and the twosome are sent on an adventure as they try to find their way back to Jamesy’s living room.
Knowles said the show is about “cultivating the power of imagination.”
“When working with imagination as a tool you have to be careful not to be too literal about the staging of things. Even though our Christmas show takes place in a living room, we limit our props,” Knowles said.
“Atmospheric elements can really transform a space and support the imagination, whereas literal elements take away form transforming the place from a literal object,” Malkin added.
He said every year they add elements to make the show more immersive. On this tour they’re featuring confetti cannons and “three different kinds of snow.”
O Christmas Tea wasn’t always a Christmas show. Knowles said it started off as a one-off seasonal performance of another James and Jamesy production.
“We had a booking in December and we were going to do our show High Tea but we thought, ‘It’s December, is there a way to make High Tea a Christmas show?’” he said.
From there Knowles and Malkin added festive elements and changed the title to O Christmas Tea – “the obvious name choice.”
The duo have now been bringing the show to crowds for the past four years.
“It’s definitely a tradition now and we had no idea it would catch on as well as it has,” Malkin said.
“As a performer and someone trying to make a living in the arts, we’re kind of on the lookout for creative projects that satisfy us as artists and our creative souls as well as finding something that resonates with an audience,” Knowles added. “And with O Christmas Tea we really hit on something that really resonates. We’re fortunate to have created a thing that has a lasting appeal.”
With the pair now dedicating every November and December to rehearsing and performing O Christmas Tea, Knowles said the show has become their tradition as well.
“Every year for the full month of December this show becomes our livelihood and our lifestyle…” he said. “In the show the world floods with tea and in December our world floods with tea.”
WHAT’S ON … O Christmas Tea takes place at the Port Theatre on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. $38 for adults, $19 for children.