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A Christmas Memory

A Christmas MemoryThe UT Department of Theatre presents Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory, read by Carol Mayo Jenkins, recorded on location at the Mabry Hazen House, and directed by John Sipes. The free, streaming recording is available NOW through December 25, 2020. In conjunction with the reading, a Full Belly Fund virtual food drive with Second Harvest will provide food for the community.

“From time to time I have mused about directing a reading of the story once I could find the right actor to give voice to the gentle, delicate lives the story chronicles,” said Director John Sipes. “Now I have found that actor—Carol Mayo Jenkins. Carol possesses all the qualities necessary to bring to life this touching story of wonder, love and the special bond of companionship. A Christmas Memory as read by Carol will lighten the darkness that now surrounds us.”

First published in 1956, A Christmas Memory is an autobiographical recollection of Capote’s rural Alabama boyhood. Seven-year-old Buddy inaugurates the Christmas season by crying out to his cousin: “It’s fruitcake weather!” Thus begins an unforgettable portrait of an enduring friendship between two innocent souls – one young and one old – and the memories they share of beloved holiday rituals. 

Now a holiday classic, A Christmas Memory has been broadcast, recorded, filmed, and staged multiple times, in award-winning productions.

“I saw a televised adaptation of A Christmas Memory, narrated by Truman Capote, many years ago,” said Director John Sipes. “The story struck an emotional chord in me that has resonated ever since.”

Watch A Christmas Memory and to donate to the Full Belly Fund.

The story was recorded on location at The Mabry–Hazen House, which is a historic home located on an eight-acre site at 1711 Dandridge Avenue in Knoxville, Tennessee, at the crest of Mabry’s Hill.

Truman Garcia Capote was an American novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, playwright, and actor. Several of his short stories, novels, and plays have been praised as literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the true crime novel, In Cold Blood.

John Sipes is a professor in the UT Department of Theatre. Before joining the UT faculty, he was a director and the Resident Movement Director for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for 15 seasons. Prior to his residency at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, John was a Director and Movement Director for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival for 12 seasons and served as the Festival’s Artistic Director for five seasons. Directing credits include productions at the Clarence Brown Theatre, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Milwaukee Rep, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival and others.

Born and raised in Knoxville, Carol Mayo Jenkins attended Salem Academy and Vanderbilt. She trained for the theatre in London, spent four years with the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, and made her Broadway debut as Natasha in William Ball’s production of “The Three Sisters.” In New York, she did a number of Broadway and Off-Broadway plays and also played leading roles in regional theatres across the country. Moving to Los Angeles, she spent five years on the award-winning television series, “Fame.” She continued to work in film and television, while also performing in regional theatre. Edward Albee cast her as Martha in his production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe? which toured the US, Lithuania, and Russia. In 2001, she chose to return to Knoxville, joining the faculty of the Theatre Department at UT.

The creative team for this production includes Carrie Ferrelli (Scenic Designer), John Merritt (Costume Designer); Bill Miller (Lighting Designer); Chandler Oppenheimer (Video Capture/Editor); and, Joe Payne (Composer).