Director’s Notes for Developing this Story

A carol is a religious folk song or popular hymn, particularly one associated with Christmas; to go caroling is to go singing, particularly Christmas songs. Some songs are beautiful, while others are deeply disturbing, and still others are simple silly fun.

While Christmas is a Christian holiday that was created in the Middle Ages, it was a feast intended to replace celebrations associated with the Winter Solstice. It’s a party! Wealthier medieval Christian kings gave out gifts (as they did at most big feasts of the year). The Christmas tree and many other contemporary symbols of Christmas are are taken from older, non-Christian religious systems.

Charles Dickens’ wonderful novel, A Christmas Carol, is not at all the first Christmas ghost story. For example, another great class is the medieval Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

This play is loosely based upon the Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol. In fact, many of the characters’ names have been changed, to note just how loose this adaptation truly is. Charles Dickens wrote a wonderful ghost story full of Victorian Christian ethos and humanism. This play, however, is ANOTHER ghost story, ANOTHER Christmas Carol, set in 21st-century United States (Northeast Ohio, even), attempting embrace an ethos that recognizes diversity, equity, and inclusion. It attempts to embrace, for example, the Articles of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as developed by founding members of the United Nations.

Thus, several of the characters are intended to be flexible in identity: ethnicity, nationality, religion, race, gender, sexuality, (dis)abilities, and so forth. I tried to make their identities flexible, allowing actors and directors as much room for creative freedom, as much as possible.

However, there are some restrictions to character development, for two central reasons: 1) for the purposes of plot development, and 2) to allow for the development of a discussion of social issues that is significantly broader than that presented by Charles Dickens.

This play is intended to be a joint Deaf/hearing production (again, in the spirit of inclusiveness). This merging of communication and linguistic methods poses a challenge, one that can be reduced to light and sound. The merging is a challenge: it can be a battle (between the speakers and the signers) for stage attention, or (and this is the goal) it can be a lovely composition, an orchestration of entertainment of the visual with the audio. The intended audience is both hearing and Deaf: those who are signing-impaired will be able to follow the play through the speakers’ performance and those who are hearing-impaired will be able to follow the play through the signers’ performance.

Everyone has a voice, be it signed or spoken. It might be best to think of the speakers as performing something akin to a radio play, while the signers are performing something akin to a dance. Speakers can also provide additional sound effects (with their throats and mouths, but also with various types of musical instruments and other tools). Signers can also provide additional visual effects (such as with led-gloves and flags or streamers, but also with dance and pantomime).

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SOME OF THE CHARACTERS & NOTES ABOUT THEM

For each scene: only signers and speakers who are needed on the stage should be there: the signers are always performing toward downstage and the speakers are always in the “radio station” corner of the stage, to the side and back (upstage).  Time is being represented by space, mimicking time representation in American Sign Language: backstage is the past, upstage and the audience area is the future.

Ebeneezer Scrooge I have chosen to keep this name as tribute to Charles Dickens’ novel. He is different from the original Scrooge, however, except that he is also all about profit. He is a fast-talking salesman. He acts like he loves people in order to make a sale. He owns a store that sells gizmos and widgets—it does not really matter what they actually are. Most of his sales happen online, but he also owns a local store. He does everything that he can to build a profit, bending the rules and finding loopholes.

Barb Crachowitz This character is a variation of Bob Crachit. She is Jewish. The point for this change in name and gender identity is to allow for more contemporary values and issues to be raised. We do not live in a Christian-only world, and women make up a large part of the workforce that is still underpaid. Also, she is a grandmother.

Tiny Timmie This character is Barb Crachowitz’s grandchild and has a true illness that can be terminal if not treated properly. It doesn’t really matter what the illness is, but it should be indicated by uses of any or all of the following props: a bed, a head-scarf that indicates chemo-therapy, a walker, a wheelchair, oxygen tank and tubing or mask, lots of medications administered during the show, ….

Mr. Crachowitz This character is Barb Crachowitz’s spouse (see above). He is somewhat decrepit and retired. He looks after Tiny Timmie, barely. (He struggles.)

Crachowitz Grandchildren These poor kids live with their grandparents. Their parents are dead, in jail, incompetent, or perhaps working far away where children are not permitted. (This is up for discussion.) They will have some lines that they speak and/or sign.

Freddie Scrooge’s Nephew/Niece—this is also Maggie’s child.

Freddie’s Spouse

Town Council They come by to acquire donations from Scrooge. They also appear in Scrooge’s hypothetical future (alluding to his possible death).

Marley This is Scrooge’s former business partner, who warns him of the coming ghosts. Again, I kept the last name as tribute to Dickens’ novel.

Ghost of the Past—Male This character is a passive-aggressive hippie who is versed in practices of emotional healing, whatever that means.

Ghost of the Past—Female This character is a passive-aggressive hippie who is versed in practices of emotional healing, whatever that means.

Peace This is a smaller spirit, a mini-hippie, that clings to these ghosts; it should be a child.

Love This is a smaller spirit, a mini-hippie that clings to these ghosts; it should be a child.

Young Adult Scrooge (Age: early/mid 20s) This character’s performance will be video recorded and shown on a screen for the contemporary Scrooge and Ghosts of the Past to watch and discuss.

Much Younger Scrooge (Age: 9-12) This character’s performance will be video recorded and shown on a screen for the contemporary Scrooge and Ghosts of the Past to watch and discuss.

Maggie This is Scrooge’s older sister, in her late teens or early 20s when she first appears. She never dies. She is the closest thing to family that Scrooge has ever experienced, until her child grows up and moves out to live near him. Freddie is her daughter. Most of this character’s performance will be video recorded and shown on a screen for the contemporary Scrooge and Ghosts of the Past to watch and discuss. She appears again at the end of the play, in current times.

A Big Flirt This character parallels Scrooge’s fast-talking methods for getting what he/she wants. Very similar to Scrooge, except that the greed is for sex rather than money. This character’s performance will be video recorded and shown on a screen for the contemporary Scrooge and Ghosts of the Past to watch and discuss.

Ghost of the Present This character is a circus ringmaster. This character shows Scrooge all the wonderful possibilities of his life, how much of a wonderful circus it could be, how much of a lousy person Scrooge currently has been (is).

Ghost of the Present Assistant More information and casting is forthcoming on this character.

Ignorance This is a smaller spirit, a mini-circus character of any kind, that clings to this ghost; it should be a child.

Want This is a smaller spirit, a mini-circus character of any kind, that clings to this ghost; it should be a child.

Party People at the home of Freddie and Freddie’s Spouse

Ghost of the Future Evil Santa of Death: must wear mittens and a smiling mask; it might be wise to use a suit that is non-traditional Santa/Christmas colors; another option is the yeti costume in Santa hat, ect.. This character performs body gestures with sound gestures.

Happy Elf of Death #1 This character must be wearing a mask, preferably smiling. This character is an assistant to the Ghost of the Future (to Death). This character performs body gestures with sound gestures.

Happy Elf of Death #2 This character must be wearing a mask, preferably smiling. This character is an assistant to the Ghost of the Future (to Death). This character performs body gestures with sound gestures.

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Call for Actors (Speaking & Signing) for ANOTHER Christmas Carol

Plans are in place for Kent Trumbull Theatre’s third joint Deaf/hearing play production. Deaf and hearing, signers and speakers, are encouraged to try out. The intended audience is both hearing and Deaf: those who are signing-impaired will be able to follow the play through the speakers’ performance and those who are hearing-impaired will be able to follow the play through the signers’ performance. Everyone will have a voice, be it signed or spoken. Visual space (the stage) will primarily belong to the signers, while audio space will primarily belong to the speakers. The speakers will be performing something akin to a radio play (on one part of the stage, with microphones on stands and a table of sound props for special effects), while the signers will be performing in American Sign Language on the rest of the stage. In addition to performing the play’s lines, speakers will provide additional sound effects (with their throats and mouths, but also with various types of instruments and other tools), and signers will provide additional visual effects (such as with led-gloves and flags or streamers, but also with dance and pantomime).  Children from ages 4 to 94 are encouraged to tryout!

September 27 & 28
7:00 to 9:00pm
Auditorium (Lecture Hall A)
KSU—Trumbull

 
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