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Memphis playwright Ruby O'Gray says she takes comfort in the eternal return of entertainments like A Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life. She's also inspired by how these well-worn stories work their way into other stories over time. Her own play Holiday Judgment, at TheatreWorks December 7th-16th, borrows some thread from both Yuletide classics but takes its primary inspiration from Court TV and reality shows like Judge Judy.

"These judge TV shows were popular when I wrote the play in 2000," O'Gray says. "I was a substitute theater teacher and wanted to write something for the students I was working with. I wanted them to learn something about real life."

Holiday Judgment is about an enterprising little boy who takes a cold-hearted woman to court after she runs over his bike in her new Mercedes. To fulfill the judge's orders, the woman is forced to perform a series of public services that bring her into contact with people who might as well be ghosts: the poor people who are around her all the time but whom she never really sees.

"You want to tell these stories over and over again, because you want people to feel those things again," O'Gray says. "We want to feel the hope, the change. And to be reminded that being hard and cold doesn't get you anywhere in your life."

"Holiday Judgment," presented by Bluff City Tri-Art Theatre Co., at TheatreWorks, December 7th-16th, at 7 p.m. with a matinee on Sunday, December 16th, at 2 p.m. $15. Information: 946-6140.

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