"The very first play I ever wrote, in 2015, was -- it's a long title -- People of Color Christmas: The White Elephant in the Room," says playwright and actress Christine Hoang. That show only ran for one week ("Because that's all I could afford," Hoang notes), but that was long enough for the show to catch the eye of some folks from the Asian American Resource Center, which eventually led to a revival of the show this year, sponsored by Austin Museums and Cultural Programs.
"So now, this year... ColorArc Productions is presenting this new iteration of People of Color Christmas to Austin audiences for free," says Hoang. "And we are touring the cultural centers of Austin."
This holiday season, the show (with its newly shortened title) will go on a mini-tour of Austin, offering free performances at the Asian American Cultural Center, the Mexican American Cultural Center, and the Dougherty Arts Center. While the tickets are free, registering is highly recommended.
"I rewrote about fifty percent of it," Hoang says of the new version of the show. It's got a mostly new cast, too, so it's not quite the same show that was staged in 2015. But its heart remains the same -- it's a warm-spirited comedy about a group of quirky friends gathering together for their yearly white elephant Christmas party.
It's almost like the Christmas episode of a sitcom that doesn't exist -- Hoang likens it to the '90s show Friends. "This is a show for folks who saw Friends but maybe didn't see themselves in that cast. And we've recast that show, sort of, with all people of color. But we are all so quirky, it fits," she says.
And like in a sitcom, there are multiple subplots winding their way through the show. Gabby (played by Lilli Lopez) is nervous to introduce her office crush to her friends. "As a woman, I can relate to just being stressed out over a dude," says Lopez. "She seems to wear her heart on her sleeve, and I relate to that."
As Sasha, Allegra Fox is also playing a character who feels close to home. "There are just some things that I'd read in the script, and I'm like. 'Oh my God, I've said this to my mom. My mom has said this to me,'" she says.
For Hoang, People of Color Christmas is a Christmas card to anybody who's felt like an outsider. "It's our way of giving back to Austin and having folks feel like there's a way you can celebrate the holidays, even though you're a bunch of misfit toys," she says. "So are we! And that's cool. It's cool to be nerdy."