Sent  11/14/17
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The Great Dickens Christmas Fair Missive
Great Dickens Christmas Fair 2017 - November Missive #3
Notes from your Missive Maven:
This will be the first of two missives this week, I'll be at the QuickBooks Connect conference tomorrow and Thursday, so the second one will be on Friday. As much as possible, get good sleep this week, eat well and take your vitamins so you're ready to hit the ground running on Saturday!


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

Participant Services


Time travel is tiring and thirsty business...  Here is a quick list of services, participant-only food services, and little niceties provided to support you between your adventures in Dickensian London:
~Water (always fresh in the Annex)
~A hot 'cuppa tea, (free) in the Annex (courtesy of Coventry Carolers).  
~Lemonade, etc. at the Greenman throughout the day
~Excellent hot breakfasts prior to 9:30 AM - various booths  (more info will be in Friday's missive)
~A hearty soup (Cottage Pottage) is always available at the Tipling Toad (Pickwick Square) for only $2 (gate pass required). Always vegetarian (until it runs out), often a meat option available.
~Catering trucks daily outside Annex: The 'Wisk' truck will be returning, and a new Organic Taco truck is being added to the rotation. 
~Nap/Yoga/meditation "reset room" behind Costumes (always inquire via Costume team on duty)
~Participant tickets are good any day (no need to determine when your guests are coming) and are the lowest price available at $18 for adults and $10 for children 5-11. 
~Will Call is available VIA the Passhouse.   Envelopes provided, please write legibly.  Deliveries to Will Call made several times each Fair morning from the Passhouse.
If you have ideas or concerns regarding participant services needed or not working properly PLEASE email Rickie Bolin via:

Order of the Golden Needle

(from Ari Yovel)

The Order of the Golden Needle is a support and self-advocacy group for Dickens Fair participants on the autism spectrum. Although the Dickens Fair is a very engaging and rewarding environment for performers, it can be particularly challenging for autistic participants. If you are on the autism spectrum and would like to receive support or get involved in our network, please contact Ari Yovel ( or look for people around the fair wearing a Golden Needle pin. If you would like more information on how you can better support your autistic castmates please contact us for our information packet about Autism and the Dickens Fair.

(from Liz Martin)

We have arrived! Opening day is just around the corner!
Please , save yourself some stress and pack what you need for the weekend NOW!
I look forward to seeing all of you on the streets of London!

November 18th and 19th Opening Weekend Hours -  7:00am to 5:00pm
November 24th, 25th and 26th Thanksgiving weekend - 8:00am to 5:00pm
December 2nd - 9:00am to 5:00pm
December 3rd through close of fair - By appointment
The Costume Department is now LOCATED IN THE ANNEX
Please make sure you have your paperwork with them. You will be entering a backstage area.
Participants needing Approvals/confirmation of fastrack will enter thru the black gates across from the pass house. Then go thru the roll up door and follow the taped arrows to costumes. 
Please be patient - we are all aware that it is opening day and that the show cannot open without you. We are also aware that there are quite a few participants/vendors who arrive for the first time on Saturday morning. 
We will continue taking FastTrack photos opening weekend thru the Sat 3rd weekend. Hours will be limited after 2nd weekend. 
Our first priority is to get approvals done so that all participants can get their pass and get their day started. We will do our best to take your photo when you check in.  If we don't, please come back during the hours listed above to have your picture taken. It is your responsibility to make sure that we have your current costume photo on file. 
We have a limited number of items available for rental. If you need to rent something, PLEASE EMAIL Liz By Thursday afternoon.
Please include the items that you are looking for, character and class, your height, weight, chest and waist measurements. This will help us to pull things quicker.  
There will be a small amount of skirts, aprons, shoes, shirts and other items available for sale at this weekend and next.
Costumes will close at 7:30 nightly.
That gives you 30 min to return any items that have been rented and to collect your ID. We will be asking for a credit card deposit of at least $50 per item rented this year, or that you leave your drivers license as collateral. Small children will not be accepted in lieu of payment or deposit.

(from Therese Porter)

Kindness, Courtesy & Professionalism 
...should be the watchwords of our performing lives on both sides of the curtain. Professional courtesy enables us to give our best performances, individually and collectively, and common courtesy should be our default setting for interpersonal relations. The Victorians were very polite and we are seeking to emulate them, but that also has real use in keeping our interactions smooth and pleasant.

When performing, be aware of your surroundings and your fellow performers. Save your loud and distracting bits for areas away from stages, don't block booths, and make sure what you are doing doesn't step on another performer's bit. If someone is trying to remove themselves from an interaction, gracefully let them go. If spirits run too high and non-performing conflict arises, take it to your directors for help in resolution.

And remember - actors don't give actors notes. Character and performance decisions are worked out by the performer and the director.  If you see something genuinely concerning, take it to performer's director for resolution, do not give the note to the actor directly.

Performance is a gift that you give to our audience and the Fair. Make it one that all will appreciate (shiny ribbons optional) 

(from Therese Porter)

The Victorians loved ghost stories and divination at Christmastime almost as much as they enjoyed them at Halloween, and as in Dickens' writings, supernatural elements float through our Fair. 

Unless you are a child, Scottish or Irish, somewhat spiritously infused yourself, or Mrs Finching, you generally do not see the ghosts and fairies that wander through our London. However! that does not mean that you are entirely unaware of their existence. Not only does this give your character some fun possibilities, you have a lovely opportunity to facilitate our guests' experience. If you see the Ghosts of Past, Present, Yet to Come or Marley, you can draw our guests' attention to the spectral visitors without "seeing" them yourself. This is also a chance to gently adjust our audience's perception of what they are seeing (the parts in parentheses).

A brief primer for suggested reactions:

Christmas Past (all in white, NOT Miss Havisham) - a sense of nostalgia or wistful remembrance of previous Christmases

Christmas Present (green robe, NOT Father Christmas) - feeling of warmth, generosity, Yuletide cheer
A note from the Ghost of Christmas Present - help him do his good work! Acknowledge the kindly glow of Christmas spirit - don't snark, don't make fun of what he is doing

Christmas Yet to Come (NOT Death, NOT a Nazgul) - slight foreboding, a desire to make amends or change one's life for the better

Jacob Marley (all in grey bearing chains) - regret, desire to make amends

If children - or anyone, actually - claim to see the Ghosts, play along with them. Help add to the sense of the participation in "A Christmas Carol" come to life. 

Helping the Ghosts:
A note about the folks behind the ghosts - be ready to help the actors portraying the ghosts. Our guests are not always considerate of  them - if you see something untoward going on (pulling chains, inappropriate touching) and you can intervene to help, please do so. If the ghosts are having difficulty making their way through a crowd and you can help, it is much appreciated. The ghosts and their director thank you. 


Help the Christmas Keepers, help the Fair and help our guests enjoy their time with us!  Taking tickets, greeting guests, acting as tour guides, participating in parades, assisting guests with questions and generally helping to spread good cheer (not to mention  valuable information). are all part of a Christmas Keeper's day. Even if you are not a part of the group, you can still assist in the above-mentioned activities.  

This is a marvelous way to immerse yourself further into the Fair, share the magic of the Holiday Season with our guests , and help the Fair itself! Ticket-taking shifts also involve some recompense.

Interested? Contact Juanita Watkins at

Juanita Watkins,
Director, Christmas Keepers

Dark Garden Raffle

(from Carynn Milne)

Dark Garden is offering a special RAFFLE just for participants of the Great Dickens Fair! For many years in the past, we held a raffle for a custom corset; tickets were $5 a piece, no limit on how many you could purchase, and the winner would be chosen final weekend. For however many tickets were purchased, that dollar amount would be attributed to the winner's account to be applied to a corset of their choice. (i.e. if 75 tickets sold, $375 would be given, etc, etc, etc). This year, little has changed! We have no booth, so this offer is only for those who work the fair. You can come to the backstage of the Dark Garden Windows, knock politely, and purchase tickets at $5 a piece, CASH ONLY. Your name will then be put into the raffle! The raffle winner will be announced IN THE NOON WINDOW final Saturday of the Dickens Fair. 

Please be aware that the model wranglers may be in the middle of prepping a model, so please be patient if we can not help you immediately. 

From Dark Garden to all of the London, Happy Holidays! And we hope to see you at the Windows!

Kindness Matters

A kind word or thoughtful deed, no matter how small, can work wonders in the hurly burly of our Dickensian life as well as the life that takes place outside our walls. Our words have power, our actions consequences, for both good and less than good.  We are all working for the same goal of presenting a top notch show while having a great time doing it. Being  supportive, respectful and professional with one another enriches our time together. If we speak and act with care and consideration we make the event flow more smoothly on both sides of the curtain.

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

Reminder: 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!   

Reminder: The Missive Page

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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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