The Long Christmas Dinner


The Long Christmas Dinner

Short Play, Dramatic Comedy  /  7w, 5m

Ninety years are traversed in this play, which represents in accelerated motion 90 Christmas dinners in the Bayard household. Each member of the family ages with the passing years, until finally they die and exit from the stage. We hear them comment on the development of the countryside and the enormous changes in manners and customs during this period of time.

The Long Christmas Dinner

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    7w, 5m
  • Duration
    40 minutes
  • SubGenre
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    Adult, Senior, Teen (Age 14 - 18)
The Long Christmas Dinner



The Long Christmas Dinner – nine decades long – showcases the lives of several generations of the Bayard family. Wilder breaks the boundaries of time as we measure it, and invites us to partake of  “one long, happy Christmas dinner” – past, present and future. As generations appear, have children, wither and depart, only the audience appreciates what changes and what remains the same. “Every last twig is wrapped around with ice. You almost never see that,” young Genevieve marvels, not realizing that her mother made this observation years earlier, or that her daughter-in-law will one day do the same.

Please note: The Long Christmas Dinneris available both in a single-play edition or in the six-play volume Wilder’s Classic One Acts, which also contains The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden, Pullman Car Hiawatha, Queens of France, Such Things Only Happen in Books and Love and How to Cure it.

The Long Christmas Dinner was first produced November 25, 1931 in a joint performance by the Yale Dramatic Association and the Vassar Philaletheis at the Yale University theater in New Haven, Connecticut, along with Love and How to Cure It, Such Things Only Happen in Books and The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden.
LUCIA – Roderick's wife
RODERICK – Mother Bayard's son
CHARLES – Lucia and Roderick's son
GENEVIEVE – Lucia and Roderick's daughter
LEONORA BANNING – Charles's wife
LUCIA – Leonora and Charles's daughter, Samuel's twin
SAMUEL – Leonora and Charles's son, Lucia's twin
RODERICK – Leonora and Charles's youngest son
  • Time Period 1900-1910, 19th Century, 1930s, 1920s, 1910s / WWI
  • Setting The dining room table in the Bayard home, over the course of nine decades.
  • Features Period Costumes
  • Additional Features No intermission
  • Duration 40 minutes
  • Cautions
    • No Special Cautions


“Like a surprise holiday gift... [these plays] shine like gems.” – The New York Times
“Of all my plays it is the one that has found the widest variety of receptions. At some performances it has been played to constant laughter; some listeners are deeply moved and shaken by it; some find it cruel and cynical. (What? The dead are forgotten so soon?)” – Thornton Wilder, in a letter written April 11, 1960 to Gertrude Hindemith, whose husband, the composer Paul Hindemith, wrote an opera based on the play


  • The Long Christmas Dinner - Abbey Theatre Trailer youtube thumbnail

    The Long Christmas Dinner - Abbey Theatre Trailer

  • Thornton Wilder: It's Time youtube thumbnail

    Thornton Wilder: It's Time

Licensing & Materials

  • Minimum Fee: £30 per performance plus VAT when applicable.

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Thornton Wilder

Thornton Wilder (1897-1975), born in Madison, Wisconsin, and educated at Yale and Princeton, was an accomplished novelist and playwright whose works explore the connection between the commonplace and the cosmic dimensions of human experience. The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one ...

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