Nomad Theater Company puts a dickens of a twist on the holiday classic, “A Christmas Carol” in its latest production.
The oft-told tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge and the three spirits who help him find his humanity one Christmas Eve has been battered and deep fried in the bubbling fat of the universally reviled year of 2020. Cristen Monson, co-founder of Nomad Theater, said the end result is a new concoction with a familiar flavor. All the elements that have made Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” so enduring fit in very nicely with the pandemic-based update, “A Very Covid Christmas Carol” by Pamela Morgan.
“Scrooge is in Zoom, and his business has had to go online,” Monson explained of the new adaptation. “Cratchit is in the virtual store, manning the store on Christmas Eve. So, everything relates to what we’re going through. The Cratchit family is dealing with their children having to go with online instruction for school, and dealing with the virtual learning, and having to quarantine because they don’t want to get Tiny Tim sicker.
“It takes all the familiar story pieces and makes it what it would be like if it took place in 2020.”
Unlike 2020, the play is quite funny, Monson said, and easily relatable.
“Scrooge keeps getting interrupted by Alexa because his Alexa app keeps talking back to him and can’t understand what he’s actually asking, as everybody who has that technology knows. You can ask it one thing and it gives you the population of Madagascar instead.”
The play is streaming live at 7 p.m. Dec. 17, 18 and 19.
As a totally online production, Monson said Nomad Theater was able to toss out a wider casting net.
“We put the notice out. We asked friends to share it and that anybody could be involved. We have actors from Utah, Kansas City, Iowa, up in the Chicago area, the D.C. area--so we’re just really enjoying Nomad reaching out past the Bloomington-Normal borders and making some connections with actors sitting at home with nothing to do.”
Sweetening the experience is what Monson describes as a cocoa bomb. It’s all part of helping out local businesses that have been sideswiped by COVID-19.
“A friend of mine, Michelle Schneider, has opened Compassionate Crumbs. It does hot cocoa bombs and cookies and sweets. She’s working out of an industrial kitchen as a start-up business. And we had an idea that we could help support our small businesses because they need our help so badly, by offering a concessions treat.”
Patrons of the Nomad Theater can order cookies and cocoa to enjoy during the live stream, with Nomad co-founders Monson and Connie Blick delivering the sweet concessions right to the audience members' doors.
“It’s also a way to say thank you to our patrons who are going to be watching this,” said Monson.
The most challenging part of putting together “A Very Covid Christmas Carol” has been the technical aspects. Monson said Zoom couldn’t deliver on all the aspects the company wanted to incorporate into the production.
“We’re using a platform called Stream Yard. It gives us more options for running videos while actors are onscreen. For example, if Scrooge is looking back on his memories of his long-lost love Belle, he can be on the screen with his face, and then we can also see him scrolling, like he’s scrolling through her Facebook feed. We couldn’t do that in Zoom.”
“And it is live, so anything can happen! We have some backup contingencies, in case things go wrong. But it gives you that excitement of this is happening live.”
Nomad Theater Company’s production of “A Very Covid Christmas Carol” is streaming live at 7 p.m. Dec. 17-19.
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