WELCOME to our annual production of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Trinity Repertory Company’s version has lasted for over 40 years, in large part, because we reimagine it every year from the ground up, returning to the great source material in order to find something fresh and unexpected. Not only is the Dickens novella so well-observed and human, that it is rich with inspiration in itself, but the story also has the remarkable ability to respond to new sources of delight and wonder, taking them in and making them a part of the annual telling.
It should be remembered that Charles Dickens helped invent Christmas as we know it in the first place. At the time that he wrote A Christmas Carol, the holiday was generally a raucous affair, with roving bands of drunken people going from house to house, demanding to be treated to food and drink (think of the song, “Here We Go A-Wassailing”). Dickens described a festive time, but one that was much more about family than about rowdiness or drunkenness. In a sense, he called into being the kind of Christmas he wanted to see, and it became the basis for the holiday we know today.
In the middle part of the 20th century, the movie industry discovered Dickens’ story as the perfect audience pleaser. Everyone has their favorite movie version — some people prefer the Alistair Sims, others the George C. Scott version, still others the Muppets! — yet in all of them, the giving of presents becomes a central image. While this is not a major part of the original Christmas Carol narrative, it reflects the change in the Christmas traditions of the time, one that puts focus on the exchange of gifts as a central ritual of the season. In this, we can see Dickens’ narrative changed by the times in a way that stays with the story as it is told forward.
Trinity Rep’s A Christmas Carol has its own traditions at its heart, which is a spirit of giving and community. From the beginning, it has been a favorite for our Project Discovery program which introduces school kids to theater. Literally hundreds of thousands of students have come to the show over the years with their teachers, giving an educational opportunity around a much-beloved story. Our Christmas Carol inflects young minds, making them better neighbors, better siblings, better citizens. This story has that kind of power.
In this day and age, nothing is more important than finding stories that encourage the generous spirit of giving. A Christmas Carol helps us open our hearts to the world, helps us open our arms to our neighbors and find spaces where people can come together to work for the common good, rather than working for personal gain. We are so thrilled that you are here with us to enjoy it. Happy holidays from all of us here at Trinity Rep, from our family to yours.
I’ll look forward to seeing you at the theater.