Why I Will Not Be Attending A Christmas Carol At The NAC

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Normally, this would be the time of year when I would be getting excited about the NAC English Theatre holiday performance.  In the time that I have been a subscriber, the holiday plays have always been well-loved, family friendly, classic stories such as The Sound of Music, Oliver, Anne and Gilbert, and A Christmas Carol.  This year’s play is… A Christmas Carol.  It’s the same play as last year…

For a subscriber like me, that is not a very exciting prospect.  Last year’s A Christmas Carol was a little lackluster.  There were some interesting directorial decisions made, but overall it was not all that well executed.  Basically, instead of performing this play in a more “traditional” way, the play was being tailored to the visually impaired and the hearing impaired. Interesting idea right?  Too bad it it didn’t quite work out.  Within the cast there were blind actors, as well as hearing impaired actors who spoke in sign language, and there were ASL interpreters flanking the stage.  The set pieces and costumes were all white, and there were little displays and presentations before the show to give us an idea of how the pieces would all look in a more “traditional performance” – so basically we were meant to “imagine” what everything was supposed to look like.

In theory, it’s a cool idea but the play was actually really boring.  This is always the biggest family friendly show of the NAC’s English Theatre season so there were a lot of confused and fussy young children in the audience.  From what I overheard, a lot of the children did not understand why those directorial choices had been made – even most of the adults in the audience seemed a little confused and/or unimpressed.  Experimentation in theatre is always a good thing, but it’s not necessarily appropriate with this kind of crowd: the people showing up to these kinds of performances are not always regular theatre goers, but young families who are just at the NAC for the holiday shows.

As you can imagine, I was very surprised upon renewing my subscription for the 2017/2018 season that they were going to be doing the exact same play for their holiday show this year.  My mother and I were not looking forward to having to sit through it again but we learned we did not have to.  The holiday show is typically included in the 8 plays in the English Theatre season but this year it is a stand-alone play – it is not part of the 8 shows and tickets must be purchased separately.  If the NAC is trying to increase sales, this makes sense to have the holiday show be separate from the rest of the theatre season but it is frustrating for me as a subscriber.

I look forward to the holiday show every year but now I have to pay extra if I want to see it.  Besides, why would I want to buy tickets to see the exact same show as last year?  Even if they do change things up and/or make it a more “traditional” performance of A Christmas Carol, why would I want to see the same story 2 years in a row?  I suppose they may be trying to emulate their annual Nutcracker ballet performance but if A Christmas Carol is going to be the only option for an English Theatre holiday show every year then I probably won’t be spending the extra money for those tickets as I really looked forward to the different holiday shows every year.  I’ll understand their decision if they do chose to perform A Christmas Carol again next year, but I really hope that they chose a different play for next year’s holiday performance.

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