Eugene actor David Stuart Bull was born and raised in England, just over the border from Wales. And for 30 years, Bull has brought a piece of his childhood to Lane County, performing Dylan Thomas’ timeless classic, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, at Café Soriah.
Bull, a retired chimney sweep, says his connection to Thomas’ work goes back to his youth. “It’s like revisiting my childhood Christmases,” Bull explains.
Bull’s performance is accompanied by Celtic music from local musicians Chico Schwall and Linda Danielson. “I do a preamble, talking about my experiences growing up,” Bull says. “Linda and Chico play about half an hour — instrumental and vocal music.”
A former chimney sweep presenting A Child’s Christmas in Wales: It doesn’t get more Old World than that. And like his connection to Thomas’ prose, Bull says the path to his unconventional career choice also began in his boyhood. “The chimney sweep would come every year,” Bull recalls. “We had coal fireplaces.”
Now that he’s retired, Bull says he hopes to act as much as possible. “I want to use my acting and reading skills, have a little business and call myself ‘The Jolly Good Reader.’ Hire myself out to groups and individuals who just like the idea of being read to.”
Even after all this time, Bull says presenting A Child’s Christmas in Wales feels fresh and new. “It’s so well written,” he says. “It’s written like a poem, from the eyes of an adult looking back upon their childhood. It really resonates with everybody because it’s universal, even though the setting is in Wales.”
And after three decades, Bull’s performance has become a local holiday tradition. “I’ve had people coming back every since I started,” Bull says. “Some people get married and bring their kids, and now their kids are bringing their kids. I’ll probably keep doing it ‘til I drop.”
A Child’s Christmas in Wales runs 9:30 pm Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 22-24, with a 3 pm matinee Saturday, Dec. 24, at Café Soriah. Call 541-342-4410 for reservations.