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New production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ founded on collaboration

The Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing will host the premiere of the film “A Christmas Carol,” a collaborative project that reflects the department’s adaptability and innovation.

“The fantastic part of being in the Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing is that we get to collaborate on projects with all three programs,” said Professor Rulon Wood, who edited the film. “This is super rare at universities, but it is definitely required to make interesting work. It’s always a pleasure to work with my colleagues.”

Originally to be stages as a play, production began as usual in early 2020, but when the pandemic arrived, both professors and students had to adjust. They decided to create a film of the production, filming each actor individually for safety.

“Film and Theatre had never collaborated before, let alone under COVID protocols,” said Gordon Reinhart, a professor of theatre arts who adapted “A Christmas Carol” for the production.”It was gratifying to be in the room (at a safe distance with plastic shields over masks) with film students, theatre students and faculty all working together on such a story. Now I feel as Scrooge did the morning after his visitations, gratified to be alive and joyful I didn’t miss Christmas!”

A challenge becomes an opportunity

For faculty and students alike, the pivot to filming “A Christmas Carol” provided unexpected opportunities for growth and collaboration.

“Collaboration only exists when all onboard are game for the risk,” Reinhart said. “In our Danny Peterson Theatre, the easy give and take of many artists was a marvel to witness.”

As an example, Reinhart describes the interplay between an actor’s blocking and cinematography.

“Ann Price, special lecturer in theatre and the director of the show, would do a bit of staging, then Ryan Cannon, professor of film, would craft how the cameras would record, which would prompt changes in the staging; each supporting the previous choice, and all with ease and good will—like Scrooge at the end of the story!”

For Sophia Ventresco, a junior theatre arts major, the process provided an invaluable experiential learning opportunity.

“The collaboration with the film department was critical,” Ventresco said. “I personally feel like this experience has set me up for success in the rest of my college career. I gained stage managing skills that I now use in my current projects as a head stage manager. I also gained the experience of working on a film. I feel that I learned a whole other world of entertainment, while also simultaneously seeing how film and theatre can connect.”

An updated classic

“A Christmas Carol,” written by Charles Dickens, tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. A classic play for the holiday season, the filmed version of the festive production will offer audiences a new spin on a well-known story. The film features performances by current students Rachel Fitchman, Zoe Kelly, Keenan Roark, Alyson Stansell and Sophia Ventresco.

Attend the screening of “A Christmas Carol” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, in the Special Events Center.