What We Do
LET US SET THE SCENE…
A bare, dark stage, hard-back copies of A Christmas Carol, mis-matched chairs, snow illuminated by a spotlight, an acapella voice pierces the air and dances with a lonely violin, memory, a candle, carpet bags and vintage cases, the clothes on our backs, truth, heart, magic. We are Everyone’s Carol. Ours is a simple adaptation of the ‘ghostly little book’, A Christmas Carol. We have gone back to the text, using only Dickens’ words to tell the timeless classic of hope and redemption. We create a space for it to tell itself, stewarding it to the next place, and to the hearts of all who hear it. This is not just our story, it is Dickens', it is the worlds, it is yours. Your story, your Carol, Everyone’s Carol. Our vision was not just to create a show, it was to do something extraordinary.
Ours is a reflective project from front to back. We began with one question: if we had no money, how could we create a Carol for the world we live in now? A gritty, simple, heart-felt Carol. A Carol for everyone. We envisioned the show as a bridge between a family in poverty with one living in more fortunate circumstances, bringing together people who would not meet otherwise. Over the years the show has grown immensely, built on miracles, generosity, artistry, teamwork, friendships, and passion. From a snowy coffee shop window six years ago, today we are proud and humbled to have made so many friendships and developed so many amazing relationships and collaborations. These include:
Former First Lady Michelle Obama, the Prince of Burma, Macy’s, the New York Public Library, the Morgan Library, the Players Club, the New York Society Library, the Charles Dickens Museum of London, Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, Gerald Dickens, the Dickens Fellowship Worldwide. Anthropologie, the people of New York & London, people on trains & planes, volunteers, interns.
All of this is down to the power of this story, of the little book.
WHAT WE DO:
We have created a blueprint for the show which can be taken to any community and culture all over the world, a true tribute to the universal messages of the Carol. The show can be loosely split into three parts: front-of-house curation (community), the on-stage show (production), and our education unit (humanitarian).
As a boy, Charles Dickens grew up in poverty on the streets of London; he was raised by them and the street artists were his school. To honour this, we created a front of house curation based on this part of his life. He was also a great humanitarian, a weaver of stories, an artist and a patron of the arts, who used art to bridge people of all walks of life. In this spirit, we created a front of house of visual art, food, music, community, charities, performers, and so much more. We invite street artists and musicians into our lobby to perform, and we pay particular attention to answering the question, ‘if you’re going to create a Carol for the world we live in, how do you mashup the old with the new?’ The artists riff on the themes of the Carol, and the night is a true dedication to the spirit that permeates the text over 160 years after it was written.
It is a place to gather at the holidays, whatever you may celebrate, in the spirit of humanity, and can be adapted to the culture of the host country that Everyone’s Carol finds itself in. Our goal is to create a beautiful, meaningful experience for our audience, that takes them from the bell ringer on the street, into the lobby, to the show, and back out again, a journey that is truly unique to each performance. Every step is a dedication to this little book, this classic story. It is a show with a huge heart and a big vision.
"The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing is constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists."
- Charles Dickens
How do you tell this story for the world we live in now? This was at the forefront of our minds as we sat in a coffee shop six years ago, combing through each and every word as we began to adapt this classic. We wanted it to be simple, austere, haunting, melancholic. We take 13 actors, always on stage at all times, and add mismatched antique chairs, old hard-back Carols, vintage suitcases and bags, old hard wood floors and brick walls. And snow. Lots and lots of snow. We crunch up the text with heart and grit, and we bring the audience into it at every opportunity. It is intimate and familiar, like a mother, father, grandparent, reading to their child at their bedside as has been done throughout history. We have made this show for you, the audience. As it moves around the world, each show is a truly unique experience, with local actors, fashion, and language. It truly is Everyone’s Carol.
It was not within school that Charles Dickens found his calling to be a great writer. Education was not a possibility he could enjoy. Instead, at just 9 years old, he worked off his family’s debt at Warren’s Blacking Factory whilst they lived in prison. A Christmas Carol was born years later, out of a visit to the ragged schools in London, and the poverty and lack he saw there. In the Carol, we meet Ignorance and Want, the two children that tumble from the robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present, followed by a stark warning to be wary of them. Dickens wanted to deliver a ‘sledgehammer blow’ to the world against the greed and selfishness he saw and experienced. He composed the tale in his head, weeping and laughing as he walked about ‘the black streets of London, fifteen and twenty miles, many a night when all the sober folks had gone to bed’.
Building on this, we have created an educational wing to the show. For six years running we have taken workshops to children without arts programs, using the Carol and Dickens’ own story of overcoming adversity to serve as a reminder of hope and inspiration. We have united children from Hell’s Kitchen with those across the pond in London in a pen-pal system, and we have been honoured with grants from Macy’s and the Brooklyn Schools. Through their support, we have been able to realise this vision that was threaded through the heart of why Dickens wrote the Carol in 1843 – to not let any child fall through the cracks.