Norma J. Thomas, French Creole Productions and God’s Grace Community Church present “An Urban Christmas Tale.” Funded in part by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, through the Houston Arts Alliance, the annual holiday treat was inspired by the 2014-2015 Ferguson, Mo. protests.
“I felt the community needed the arts to speak to the heart of the community, and when the Women’s Ministry of the Shrine asked me to do something theatrical for Christmas that year, I seized the opportunity,” said Thomas.
The writer, composer, producer, director crafted what she called “a message of hope for a community in crisis” from the biblical Christmas story, but in 2015 urban America.
Each year, the play seeks to inspire hope but takes a different focus. This year’s focus is regentrification and political corruption and the power of unified self-determination to overcome them.
“The sincere expectation is that viewers will return to a sense of commitment to community survival,” she said.
Originally, Thomas’ favorite scenes from her play have been when the community business owners, representing the biblical shepherds, confront their enemy, corrupt politicians. But her new favorite this year is the discovery of the mystical star that leads three astronomers to Acres Homes to find the child of the prophecy.
“The holidays naturally engender a heightened energy, and any period of high vibration is prime time for a message such as this,” said Thomas, a former award-winning HISD educator.
This year’s version of “An Urban Christmas Tale” features new, original songs, a company of young artists, and will mark the grand opening of NT Studios & Conservatory, known affectionately as Acres Homes’ premiere performing and visual arts studio and educational center, dedicated to bringing quality arts experiences to the Acres Homes community and the City of Houston at large.
NT Studios’ grand opening and production of “An Urban Christmas Tale” take place on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 19 at 4 p.m. at NT Studios, 6818 Antoine Drive.
General admission tickets are available on Eventbrite. There is limited seating, and masks are required.