I have been working in collaboration with students at Dunkirk Primary in creating and devising a very different version of 'Scrooge'. Performed as the main Christmas school production, the project was a huge event with every class contributing a key scene to the story. Year 5 and 6 pupils auditioned to be part of a central cast of narrators, ghosts and Scrooge...and the best of Dunkirk's KS2 singing talent was brought together to create a special Scrooge choir!
When I was asked to devise and produce this show, I must admit that I had my reservations. I think I've just seen too many cheesy Christmas shows with children dressed as angels and Christmas puddings!!! But upon reflection, I thought about developing a piece of theatre that cuts through the consumerism and madness of Christmas, something with a deeper message about humanity. The school had been exploring 'Greed and Power' and 'Acts of Kindness' as whole school themes and I was keen to connect to some of the rich explorations that had been taking place in connection to these themes. And so...with all those thoughts and connections in mind...this version of Scrooge was born.....
Our version of Scrooge didn't follow an 'off the shelf' script, it was an original piece of theatre that went deeper into the story, exploring the events in his life that had lead to Scrooge becoming the bitter and twisted man you meet at the beginning of the play. The mysterious ensemble of narrators and ghosts take him on a dark and ethereal 'dream journey' through his past, present and future, during which he reflects upon what has happened during his life and the lessons he can learn from the past. The final section of the play placed Scrooge face to face with the future and his own grave, a bleak scene where no one mourns his passing away. As he sits by his own grave, the ghosts present Scrooge with a window to the world, revealing a series of images and movement which show what a world filled with kindness looks and feels like. Scrooge is deeply touched by these images and realises that he wants to change. The last moments of the piece show the beginnings of this new life and personal transformation, we see Scrooge taking the first steps towards living a life full of kindness, trust and care. (And yes, I did eventualy agree to include a cheesy Christmas song at end the show...just to please those that crave this!!!)
The performance was developed in collaboration with the children involved and the story was told through drama, physical theatre, dance, film, music, yoga inspired movement and singing. It certainly brought together the many talents of the children and staff at Dunkirk!
Amongst the mad and hectic consumerism of Christmas shopping, this version of Scrooge aimed to communicate the true meaning of Christmas...a time to celebrate kindness and the positive impact that acting with compassion and empathy can have upon the world around us.