My cousin and his husband founded and run Horse & Cart, a small theater company here in Denver with big ideas. They write and produce original plays, they host an annual playwriting competition, they perform undiscovered work in unexpected places and generally “want to play in different locations while mixing theater up with music, dance, digital publishing, installations and filmmaking.” (From their website.) Their latest flash of genius is a series called Live Anthologies, in which local actors present fresh, original works by writers from around town and across the country at Paris on the Platte, a venerated Denver coffee house and bar. I’m madly in love with the premise, and when my cousin offered me a crack at one of the Twelve Days of Christmas for tonight’s holiday edition, I jumped at the chance. I’ve actually always rather hated this particular Christmas Classic, except for maybe Miss Piggy and the Muppets’ version, but Three French Hens was one of my choices, and I figured how hard could it be? At least I wouldn’t have to shoehorn eight girls with cows and buckets into some sort of storyline.
I grew up in a city, my grandparents lived in a condo — I don’t know if this is typical chicken behavior or not, but for a long time, those three French hens just sat there. They clucked and pecked and got up to pretty much nothing; you know I love my writing prompts, but this one, if you’ll pardon the expression, was laying an egg. Eventually a French boyfriend came along, and I really wanted the three hens to be his visiting Gallic mother and her two busy-body sisters — I even named them and got them as far as the Denver airport, where they sat expectantly clutching their little metaphorical purses, looking at me like, Well…? I eventually followed my lifelong daydream fantasy of a big-nosed Parisian boyfriend to its logical conclusion, and we washed up on a farm in the Loire Valley with three feathered friends. Continue reading