Saturday, November 14, 2009

You're Wrong About Dickens!!!

Confession time... I love Christmas Carol. There I said it. I love it. I adore the ghost story turned into holiday redemption. It is without a doubt the most important and most established tale of humanism told. If the planet were to blow up 2012 style, I could not excuse myself from forgetting to put a copy of Dicken's classic in the rocketship to the new world.

As universal narrative goes, it probably exceeds anything in the English language. Everyone has heard the name Shakespeare without necessarily knowing his works aside from the titles. Many a blue collar worker out there would rather witness a hate crime than sit through any production of one of the bard's plays. But, everyone... everyone knows Christmas Carol. If you ask someone who was Hamlet, you'd get everything from a well read intelligent response to a night on Jay Leno's show. Many many more people know who Scrooge is, who Tiny Tim is. Put on the little brit accent and say "God Bless us" in a crowded room. Someone will finish the quote.

My point, I think it is time for us as theatre makers to get over our own over exposure doldrums when it comes to a Christmas Carol. I say the more productions of Christmas Carol there are at this time of the year the better. In fact, I'd like to see dueling Christmas Carols. I'd like to see a flash mob production of Christmas Carol where hundreds of Ebenezer Scrooges are walking down Michigan avenue on Christmas morning each holding his (or her) own Tiny Tim or Tiny Tina up on shoulders making sure that every homeless person on the street has a piece of bread and something warm to drink.

I'd like to see Black Friday Carol, where they close the shops on the most important day of the year (according to the Markets) Where everyone refuses to shop and instead goes into the homes of the people they see everyday and exchange well wishes and embraces and introduce their children and extended families to each other. I would like to see people performing improvisational Black Friday Carols on the streets and in the parks that Friday morning and all through the night.

I would rather sit through a dozen sincere amateur productions of a Christmas Carol, in community centers across this country, then sit through one "sponsored" 5 to 6 figure production of a star studded Happy Shopping Day extravaganza.

Too many productions of a Christmas Carol? Wrong? Just too many of the same kinds of productions! I'd like to see every child in America watching a production of a Christmas Carol... But, I want us as artists to use these productions as a rehearsal for change. I want to see Reverend Billy's production of a Christmas Carol. I want to see the state of Connecticut create dozen of youtube versions of Christmas Carol where Ebenezer Lieberman wakes up Christmas morning and gives Tiny Tim a public opinion. I'd like to see a Blue Man Christmas Carol that inspires the audience to get up out of their seats regardless of what language they speak and to go out an do something for their fellow man before the evening wanes.

Let's stop chiding the greatest story ever given us to inspire humanitarianism. Lets use it. Lets use it in new ways!

1 comment:

Kerry said...

One of my favorite productions ever is "A Noh Christmas Carol," which was done every year by Theatre of Yugen in San Francisco (they may still be doing it, I don't know). The company, as the name implied, focused on Asian theater forms, so for example, the figures of Want and Ignorance were bunraku puppets.

But the best part was that Marley's Ghost re-appeared at the end, draped in paper chains, and Scrooge unwound the chains and released him. Made me blub each time I saw it (I think I saw it at least three times when I lived in the Bay Area).