Re-living the Story of Christmas

Rob Olguin will direct The Living Nativity at the Great West Life Spirit of Christmas Celebration.

It’s cold outside, and families huddle in front of a make-shift stable and watch a familiar scene unfold. Even just a clip from this scene, a tired mother with her head bent over her new-born child lying in a manger, evokes a myriad of memories about the traditions that make the holiday season significant.

For three years running, TWU has put on The Living Nativity during the Great West Life Spirit of Christmas Celebration hosted by Trinity Western University, and the performance has become a central feature of the event. This year, Rob Olguin, aTWU alum who recently graduated with his MFA from the University of Washington and now teaches acting at Trinity Western, is stepping in as the new Living Nativity director, and is excited to have the opportunity to be a part of presenting the Christmas story to this year’s audience.

“The Living Nativity incorporates two important aspects of our vision for the Spirit of Christmas,” Olguin says, “it is something fun for the whole family, and it provides a reminder of what Christmas is about. Christmas is about the nativity story and we want to have fun sharing that story.

A complete in-house production, the performance features Olguin and five theatre students, and the script was written by Kris Knutsen, who also works in the Theatre department at TWU. “Performing such a traditional story is challenging in many ways,” Olguin comments. “It is impossible to do a ‘fully authentic’ piece. We don’t speak the original language, and we don’t know ‘what it was really like.’ So we try to find an interesting way to tell a familiar story and yet make it contextual.”

One of the actors in the production is Jordan Schuurman, a second year theatre major who was part of the performance last year. “I had a good experience with The Living Nativity and I'm looking forward to this year as well. Many people know the story of the birth of Jesus Christ but to be a part of it is something that I had never really done before,” says Schuurman.

The experience also changed his view of the Christmas season. “What I've found is that because of the Westernization of Christmas and hearing the story for the better part of my life, I had forgotten that this ‘story’ actually happened to real people. That’s where the original script fits in. The script is not cheesy nor is it overly simple like some of the Christmas stories I had seen previously. Instead, it’s a very honest retelling of relationships among the people, and how the experience changed lives.”

The Living Nativity is presented every half hour during the Spirit of Christmas. The Celebration takes place December 4th & 5th from 4:00pm-9:00pm at Trinity Western University.

For more information and location visit the website at

Trinity Western University, in Langley, B.C., is a provincially chartered, independent Christian liberal arts and sciences university, enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers 42 undergraduate majors, ranging from biotechnology, education, theatre and music, to psychology, communications and biblical studies. TWU's 16 graduate degree programs include nursing, counseling psychology, business, theology, linguistics, and leadership, and interdisciplinary degrees in English, philosophy and history. TWU holds Canada Research Chairs in Dead Sea Scroll Studies, Developmental Genetics and Disease, and Interpretation, Religion & Culture.

Last Updated: 2009-11-30
Author: Elisabeth Fallon