With the shrink of department stores in NYC (still teary over Barney’s), the holiday window game desperately needed some new contenders. Enter Piehole, a NYC live arts collective that is debuting its advent-calendar style story Christmas Mountain, officially kicking off the holiday season in the windows of The Greene Space at WNYC and WQXR in Soho. Blending hand-crafted animatronics, original music and oodles of video screens, the story follows a grumpy mouse who’s the designated Geek Squad for his mouse-hamlet. It seems that the antenna that feeds their little mouse homes with beloved Christmas-themed TV content has gone on the fritz and it’s fast approaching the longest day of the year—the Winter Solstice. Can this grumpy mouse save the day? You’ll have to stop by to see!
Every night at sundown (4:45 pm) from December 1-21, passersby can tune into the show and see what artistic delights await in the day's segment. If you miss a day, don’t worry, check it out online or via QR code at the window. The story is narrated by WNYC host Brian Lehrer, a familiar voice to New Yorkers for his eponymous radio show.
Emilie Soffe, member of the Piehole theater group, says “We’d been wanting to do this for a really long time. We all love advent calendars; it’s delightful to get a little treat.” These treats come in the form of chapters of the story that they are hoping to build into a routine for neighborhood school children, residents and commuters to enjoy. Although Piehole isn’t a Christian group (they have Christian, Muslim and Jewish members), Soffe says that they all delighted at the sights, sounds and memories of the holiday season’s traditions. When originally ideating on this, they considered together (via Google Doc) what Christmas meant to them. A red shag rug, a post-Christmas outdoor picnic, and The Muppet’s Christmas Carole made the list. Soffe says the takeaway from their shared doc was that holiday traditions could be as individual as the merrymaker.
Piehole and The Greene Space are well suited for collaboration, notes Jennifer Keeney Sendrow, Executive Producer at The Greene Space. “We represent the most analog tech—radio—but also have a state-of-the-art studio and produce podcasts.” Similarly, Christmas Mountain blends the traditional and new with its use of hand crafting as well as technology. However, Sendrow shares what’s most exciting for her is being able to offer the exceptional work made by Piehole’s 20 contributing artists (from digital programmers, air brush specialists, web designers, fabricators and traditional artists) to the public for free. “There’s nothing to buy, people don’t even have to come in,” Sendrow says. “We are only selling joy.” Sounds like its high time for a new holiday tradition!
What: Christmas Mountain, Narrated by WNYC’s Brian Lehrer
When: New episodes December 1-21; Kickoff Party December 1 at 6:30 for food, drink, insight and the first episode of the show!
Where: The windows at The Greene Space at WNYC and WQXR
44 Charlton (corner of Charlton and Varick Streets