A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is one of the most iconic stories of the holiday season. Who doesn’t love to hate old Ebenezer Scrooge as he exclaims that Christmas is a hum-bug? And who doesn’t love to watch his transformation from a cantankerous miser into a man who recognizes the mistakes he has made and actually changes his life for the better?
A developmental center near us decided to put on a stage adaptation of this classic story. Individuals with special needs and the staff who care from them worked together as actors, singers, designers, and stage crew to bring the story to life. This was no easy task, as many of the individuals have learning and communication issues that could get in the way. Most of the cast are unable to read; some are non-verbal. Learning lines and stage directions presented challenges for the troupe which had to be overcome in creative ways.
Fortunately this did not stop the production from moving forward. The show must go on, as they say. Actors with special needs were paired with developmental center staff, who read the lines softly to the actors. Then the actors, wearing microphone headsets, spoke the lines out loud for all to hear. The language of the original script was rewritten and simplified so that actors and audience could understand the story better. One of the more interesting (and heartwarming) innovations was when Tim, played by a non-verbal actor in a wheelchair, was able to deliver the final line of the play by hitting a switch that sounded out the immortal words, “God bless us, every one!”
This production meant a lot to the individuals with special needs, none of whom had ever acted in a play before. You could see how delighted they were to do something new and to act out a story they had only seen on television. The spirit of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come filled the hearts of actors and audience alike.
God bless us, every one!
Copyright 2019 Dave and Mercedes Rizzo