Dear Christ Church Cathedral Community,
It is with shouts of joy that we announce the return of live (but “different”) performances of our beloved Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival in the nave of our cathedral Saturday and Sunday, January 1-2, 2022! And we couldn’t be more excited!
Why Different and How Different?
As background, we sent a survey to over 375 recent and former members of our cast and crew, as well as to our entire orchestra and choir regarding their likelihood to participate this year under two different COVID scenarios. In both the orchestra and choir surveys, 100% of those surveyed returned the form, and over 90% of them are all in on doing live Boar's Head performances. Those numbers look even better in the scenario that assumed the current COVID situation is markedly improved. The cast and crew returns as a percentage were lower, but we do have a stalwart group of around 60 people who would love to participate in a live Boar's Head pageant this year, especially if COVID infection rates are dropping.
Dean Owen Thompson and Stephan Casurella feel as strongly as we do that it is important we have the Boar's Head Festival in some form this Christmas season. It is such a beloved holiday tradition for our cathedral family, and for the Cincinnati community at large. But we had to consider how to approach it given the low cast numbers, and quite honestly, even if we had a full cast, how would we manage reasonable COVID protocols such as distancing, food service, etc., throughout our two-day event? We also know that this is not the year to be trying to convince reluctant people to change their minds and participate. Everyone needs to assess his or her comfort level when it comes to COVID, and we respect each individual's decision.
That brings us to our plan for this year. We have decided to offer a live Boar's Head experience with a full orchestra and choir, but with a smaller cast. The performance will be "concert style" with the orchestra and choir performing Boar's Head in its entirety from the chancel, with familiar Boar's Head characters performing in the space between the altar and the pews. Our smaller, cast will be representative of the story, but we will sadly need to eliminate many roles and even whole companies in an effort to keep our cast numbers down. The cast will come on and off stage from the rear and side doors during their scenes and, just as in the past, will come together at the end of the performance –– this time with the orchestra and choir, all lifting up their gifts to God.
You will hear all your favorite hymns and see all of the main characters you would expect (the Chief Minstrel, the Lord and Lady of the Manor, King Wenceslaus, St Hilda, the Waits, Shepherds, Kings, Star of the East, Torchbearers, and, of course, our beloved Beefeaters and the Boar's Head!) Unfortunately, just for this year, we will need to eliminate most of the roles for younger children (Yule Pages and most Yule Sprites, Holly Bearers and orphans), as well as many of our companies to accommodate this COVID-influenced plan.
Managing the Audience
In terms of the audience in the pews –– as of today and consistent with current cathedral protocols –– we plan to require everyone in the pews to wear a mask during the performances. We will also reduce the number of people we seat per row and spread people out into the balcony for better distancing, as the choir and orchestra will not be using that space. We are also considering live-streaming the performances or at least one performance so as to allow those not comfortable being in a crowd to enjoy this wonderful tradition from home.
Ticketing for Cathedral Members and Cathedral and Diocesan Staff
As is our tradition, we will have one dress rehearsal (Saturday, January 1, 2:00 PM) and three performances (Saturday, January 1, 5:00 PM, and Sunday, January 2, 2:30 PM and 5:00 PM). Ticket forms for members of the cathedral community for any of these performances will be available at the reception desk beginning this Sunday, November 14. A form may also be downloaded here.
Please fill out a form and return it to the reception desk along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope by Friday, December 10. Ticket orders for cathedral members will be filled on a first come/first serve basis, and will be sent out beginning the week of December 6, 2021.
Ticketing for the General Public
Tickets to the general public will be given away in-person in the nave on Saturday, December 11. Doors will open at 8:00 AM. As people come into the nave, they will be given a number. At 8:30 AM, we will begin calling numbers and distributing tickets. Each person with a number will be able to get two tickets to the performance of their choice until all Boar’s Head tickets have been given out (or all numbers have been called and ticketed).
Although it was our hope to bring back our full Boar’s Head tradition this year, too much is still up in the air around COVID infection rates to make that possible. For those of you who might be disappointed to not be participating in the cast or crew, please consider this your year to be on the receiving end of this gift. Come to a performance and enjoy the offering of this unusual year. We will definitely need all of you next year as we return to our full production.
We hope every one of our cathedral community members will consider coming to one of the Boar’s Head performances. It is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect to this one-of-a-kind, 82-year-old tradition, as well as to each other.
We so look forward to sharing this gift with all of you on January 1 and 2, 2022.
With grateful hearts,
Anne Jaroszewicz and Bob Beiring
Co-Directors, Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival