It’s official. December is finally upon us and, like it or not, Christmas is on its way. Doesn’t it feel like the yuletide festivities creep in earlier and earlier each year? I, for one, saw stockings and wrapping paper on sale back in September. Whether Christmas is indeed becoming a premature event or not, there is no denying that people have a very strong connection with 25 December and, generally speaking, it’s a positive one. We are more charitable, selfless and cheerier. But what is it that makes us that way? Why limit good tidings to one month each year? And does our connection become an obligation? Contact Young Company (CYC) are working with Commonwealth Theatre to present a new seasonal production with a difference, which asks the question: why do we strive to be better at this time of year?

How To Be Better is developed from verbatim interviews with a range of young people about our potential to be better and make more of ourselves, ensuring it gets to the heart of feelings about the joys and challenges of the festive season. This promenade performance shows the Contact Theatre in a new light, with some of the action taking place in the dressing room and backstage. No two performances will be the same, as the audience’s experience is autonomous. The character you follow and route you decide to take is entirely arbitrary.

CYC is Contact’s renowned youth ensemble, whose cast are already established as both talented theatre makers and performers. Earlier in the year they produced The Shrine to Everyday Things, an impressive, immersive, site-specific piece. Similar to CYC, their partner for this show, Commonwealth Theatre, has developed a reputation for brave and poignant work, which highlights both individual and collective issues. Their site-specific theatre events encompass electronic sound, new writing and visual design, all of which complements the work we have come to expect from Contact.

With the critical acclaim received by these two companies, my expectations are high for How To Be Better as a modern day fable exploring the obstacles we encounter on the journey to self-betterment in a world that rewards negative qualities such as greed and selfishness. This exciting festive collaboration aims to empower its audience to stand up and challenge injustice, to be kind, to be proud and ultimately change the world. If these are the qualities that are brought on by Christmas, then maybe it’s not so bad that ‘Last Christmas’ is on the radio in October.

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Kate Morris