Home for the Holidays with Earl Hamner’s Homecoming

The Earl Hamner Theatre will present a new version of its popular The Homecoming at WTA’s Gateway on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 27 and 28.  The new adaptation will premiere at WTA’s Gateway before moving on to Charlottesville’s First Night.  Both performances are at 7:30 pm.

One of Earl Hamner, Jr’s strongest childhood memories was of Christmas in his Nelson County home.  He turned to a particular one of those memories when he wrote his short novella The Homecoming.  The plot revolves around a family waiting for the return of their father from his Christmas Eve shift at the DuPont plant in Waynesboro.  A snowstorm has made the trip over Afton Mountain nearly impossible.  Without a phone, there was no way for the family to know if the bus was going to make the treacherous trip over the icy, snow-covered roads.  Hamner took the search for information of their father’s return as an opportunity to highlight the characters that were their Nelson County community, from the African-American congregations to the maiden ladies who prepared ‘father’s recipe.’  It was soon realized that the novella was an ideal source for a film and when the film became a success, it was clear that the story of the family and their community in the Blue Ridge Mountains had the makings of a TV show.  Thus was born the very successful, long-running series The Walton.

When the Earl Hamner Jr. Theatre opened in Nellysford, the co-artistic directors, Peter Coy and Boomie Pedersen decided to ask permission to adapt the novella for the stage.  Soon after the stage version of The Homecoming became a holiday staple of the Theatre.

With the closing of the Nellysford venue, the Company sought another outlet for the play.  That’s when WTA’s Gateway opened its doors.  “It seemed right that a play that had its genesis in the struggle of a father to get over the mountain from Waynesboro should find a performance home in Waynesboro,” said Clair Myers, WTA’s Executive Director.  “We are fortunate that the Hamner was going to revive The Homecoming for presentations at Charlottesville’s First Night and was looking for a place to rehearse and premiere the 2013 version.”

The new adaptation of The Homecoming will be presented for two nights at WTA’s Gateway at 329 W. Main Street, downtown Waynesboro on Friday and Saturday, December 27 and 28 at 7:30 pm.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.  Children are half price.