Chili dinner features tale-teller

Published 11:00 pm Friday, October 28, 2011

Barbara Bates-Smith will return to the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge as the featured performer for the Brundidge Historical Society’s “A Chili Country Christmas” on Dec. 2 and 3.

Bates-Smith is from the Southern Appalachians and her one-woman performance will bring the audience right into the fireside storytelling tradition of “Old Christmas” in the mountains.

“Deck the Halls Southern Style” is both funny and poignant and is underscored by Jeff Sebens’ hammered dulcimer accompaniment.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Bates-Smith’s Christmas performance includes adaptations from the works of three Southern writers that are woven into her own Christmas story, “with apologies to Norman Rockwell.”

Bates-Smith treats the audience to intimate glimpses of Lee Smith’s ladysisters who come every Christmas and tell stories and then “skitter like waterbugs over the moonlit snow until they disappear” and Allan Gurganus’ Oldest Living Confederate Widow in the “Christmas Spectacle.”

A delve into Truman Capote’s “Christmas Memory” brings folks into the warmth of home when it’s “fruitcake weather.”

“These stories are woven into my own comical, often frustrating, search for the ‘true spirit of Christmas,’” Bates-Smith said. “I close ‘Deck the Halls’ with the voice of a pregnant mountain woman’s reflections on the Mary story from the Bible.”

In five short years, “A Chili Country Christmas” has become a tradition at the We Piddle Around Theater.

The first year, members of the “Come Home, It’s Suppertime” cast returned to the stage for “An Old Fashioned Alabama Christmas” and then in an adaptation of Roark Bradford’s “How Come Christmas.”

Master storytellers, Sheila Kay Adams, Kathryn Tucker Windham and Andy Offutt Irwin have all appeared at “A Chili County Christmas.”

“We are excited to have Barbara Bates-Smith this Christmas season,” said Mernette Bray, a member of the BHS storytelling committee. “She travels all across the country performing one-woman shows. ‘Deck the Halls’ is extremely popular and we are fortunate to be able to bring her to the We Piddle Around Theater. She shows us Christmas as seen through the eyes of different characters and then through her own. It will be a wonderful way to begin the Christmas season.”

Tickets are $20 and include the pre-show Christmas music by Jeff Sebens on the hammered dulcimer and Nicholas Cooper, featured vocalist, and a Christmas-style chili supper with dessert. Tickets go on sale, Wednesday, Nov. 2 at Rue’s Antiques in downtown Brundidge or by calling 334-735-3125. Tickets will remain on sale from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at Rue’s or by phone.