A Christmas Carol: Reimagined for 2021 at Ford's Theatre
Charles Dickens wrote his original A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas in December of 1843, 177 years ago. The story, told in four acts, was born from Dickens’s visit to the Field Lane Ragged School, a facility for children who were unhoused, and his concern for how the British government and society treated the poor. Dickens initially intended the story to be more of a stinging commentary. His close friends tried to persuade him to not publish what many felt was a diatribe, and instead to address his concerns through storytelling. His illustrated novella sold out before Christmas Eve that year. By 1844, 13 editions were published.
The popularity of A Christmas Carol, aided by favorable reviews, ushered a revival of Christmas holiday celebrations and a new keen appreciation for gatherings with friends and family, feasts and generosity of spirit toward mankind. The work has never been out of print.
A Christmas Carol has been translated into multiple languages and adapted into opera, film, theatre and other media. Every year, hundreds of theatrical productions take place across the country. At Ford’s, our annual production of this classic tale has become a tradition that continues to attract thousands of families to our historicsite. Many return every year. Shuttered due to the pandemic in 2020, Ford’s Theatre worked closely with playwright Michael Wilson to adapt the production into a radio play. We brought together our company of actors to voice A Christmas Carol and worked with sound designer John Gromada to bring the story to life. We offered the play free to the public on our website and partnered with WAMU 88.5-FM, Washington’s NPR station, to broadcast it several times, including on Christmas Day. A Christmas Carol: A Radio Play was picked up by several NPR affiliates nationwide, reaching audiences as far away as Alaska, and with listeners from more than 40 nations, including India and the United Kingdom.
Early in 2021, we began company-wide conversations about A Christmas Carol. While many regional theatres around the country have opted not to produce the show this year, we felt strongly that the joy and excitement of returning to live performances would involve producing A Christmas Carol in some fashion. Fully aware of the challenges the ongoing pandemic poses, our production team has reimagined a stage production of Michael Wilson’s beloved radio play adaptation. The challenges of COVID-19 have forced us to explore a refreshed approach to the production. In doing so, we have discovered anew the excitement of what it means to share A Christmas Carol with you.
That crotchety miser known as Ebenezer Scrooge returns to Ford’s stage once more. He will be visited by certain spirits throughout an unforgettable night. And because this year the themes of empathy and compassion feel more relevant than in years past, we aim to celebrate the spirit of the Christmas holiday like never before and joyfully acknowledge what it means to bring this production to life for you.