Getting stranded at the airport might just be every traveler’s holiday nightmare.
It’s exactly what happens in “Exchange of Gifts,” a new Christmas play by Fincastle playwright Dwayne Yancey, which is being staged at both the Bower Center for the Arts and Riverviews Artspace this weekend.
Yancey, veteran editorial page editor for The Roanoke Times, has been writing plays for around 20 years.
Yancey says he tries to write at least one Christmas play a year because theaters are always looking for holiday plays. “Exchange of Gifts” was his 2016 contribution to the Christmas story lexicon.
The play follows three foreign exchange students — one from Australia, one from Canada and one from Russia — trying to get home for Christmas who find themselves snowed-in at the same airport. Through their time together, the students each learn more about themselves and uncover the paths they’re meant to be on.
“It’s a very cute Christmas story,” says Kerry Plank, who directed the production. “It’s very touching how they try to change each other’s lives.”
“At Christmas we tend to refocus on what’s really important, which is love and family and friendship and looking outside of your own need.”
Although Yancey’s work has been produced around the world (in 47 U.S. states, six Canadian provinces and 15 countries, he notes), he rarely gets to see them staged at home.
“I just got tired of waiting for local theaters to produce my work and thought, ‘Well gosh, I’ll just produce my own,” he says.
The current regional tour of “Exchange of Gifts”is Yancey’s first attempt at producing. He took care of the logistics, finding locations to stage the play and bringing in Plank, a regular in the Roanoke theater scene, to cast and direct.
The cast, he says, has been rehearsing for this tour since September.
“I’ve got 13 productions going on around the world in December,” says Yancey, who produced the tour through his new company 57 Hours Productions. “This is the only one I will get to see.”
That’s not the only exciting thing surrounding “Exchange of Gifts.” The play also is being published next year, says Yancey.
“Ideally,” he says, “it will go on to live a long and happy life around the world.”
Emma Schkloven covers arts and entertainment for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5489, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @byEmmaSchkloven.