AUTHOR’S NOTE on Least of These:

The impetus for writing this play was at a play selection meeting where Harry Landreth asked, “What Christmas play should we do?” and without thinking, I blurted out, “Hunter (Rodgers) and I can write you one!” After that I was on the hook. Hunter was a lot less enthusiastic than I was, so it pretty well fell to me, though he has had valuable input and has been more than generous in his criticism.

The inspiration for the story came from two background sources – the gospels and an old German Christmas legend in a child’s book that I received at some 1950’s Christmas. These are the play’s foundation. Over this base are layered observations on human territoriality. Grizzlies will fight over a small land area they claim. Humans will fight, literally or figuratively, over just about any damn thing they claim! In a recently read book on geology, I was amazed at how rational, civilized scientists would furiously claim and contest some small patch of rock outcropping and defend their interpretation of it. Most of human history is a continuous string of squabbles over claimed territories – land, beliefs, religion, customs, social systems – you name it (see any war in the past), but, for the material in this play, I didn’t need to look veryfar outside of Rhea County. Two examples in this work are Saul and the merchants’ claiming of theirblock and May’s claiming of Christmas.

I had always wanted to write a musical and saw this as the opportunity. There are some recycled songs here that were written long ago as well as ones written specifically for this show. Incidentally, the acronyms NIMBY and TIWOC, the titles of two of the songs, are not my inventions. The story is meant to be lightly humorous and entertaining. How well it succeeds is up to the audience.

Thomas Rodgers

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