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Revamping a Christmas Classic

The story behind Ebenezer's Christmas Carol

Last week I shared the backstory behind my short novella-length piece called THE BEST BLUE CHRISTMAS. It got me thinking I should do the same for a play I wrote called EBENEZER’S CHRISTMAS CAROL.  I realize it is probably too late for anyone to stage the play before the season is over, but plays can be fun to read, too, not just watch!

This play is special to me for a number of reasons. It is the first complete play I wrote for my students when I taught drama. I love this classic story by Dickens and have enjoyed it in many forms from the old black and white movie to Mickey Mouse’s take on the tale. So, as a fairly new drama teacher, it seemed like the perfect fit for my small but talented (and enthusiastic!) group of after-school drama students.

Let me backtrack a bit. When I started teaching high school drama in 2001, I replaced a very, may I say, “charismatic” person. She started an after-school club connected to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and with that as her umbrella and mandate, she staged these huge shows complete with lots of tech, lighting, and special effects. She took her cast and crew, sometimes 50 people strong, (with plenty of parent volunteers!) on tour around the Yukon to other schools. Her budgets were far beyond the norm for such a small school because she got sponsorships and government grants. These were spectacular shows with lots of “smoke and mirrors” and always contained a strong social message. I was privileged to learn a lot under her as one of those parent volunteers.

When I took over the drama department, I just couldn’t compete with those expectations. Instead, I wanted to focus more on the craft of both acting and producing. And I wanted to put on plays, not events. My first theatre class wrote their own script collaboratively, (I helped a lot). Many of them had a good foundation, especially when it came to technical aspects, so it actually went over quite well. The next year I felt ready to start an after-school club as well, but again, I wanted the focus to be on the play. As it turned out, a lot of former enthusiasts just weren’t into what I was selling. However, there were a few, and so we started our Drama Club.

I’d always wanted to stage A Christmas Carol, but when I started looking at the scripts that were out there, most just didn’t seem to fit. They were just too serious or too long-winded. I wanted to inject more humor into the story. About half of my troop were very young and inexperienced. (I recruited from the elementary school, too) Fortunately, I had a few talented high schoolers. In all, I had exactly eleven actors and two techs. So with this specific group in mind, I wrote and cast my version of A Christmas Carol. 

Those kids were so dedicated and several had real talent! I couldn’t have done it without Olaf, who played Scrooge and who had to take the lead in more ways than one; Lauren, who played all three spirits and added such cheek and humor to her role that I added some of her adlibs to the script; Priscilla, whose leadership knit the group together along with her spectacular transformation as Marley, the narrator of the story; and Karli, who took on stage management while also playing Mrs. Fezziwig and other minor roles. With lots of doubling and quick costume changes backstage, we pulled it off.

The show was a great success, if I do say so myself, and I think it paved the way for new and younger students to see that different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. That drama club grew over the years to the point where I had more than thirty kids (and lots of parent volunteers) in a rendition of Alladin. (But that’s another story!)

The original play was called “Bah Humbug”, but I later changed the name to “Ebenezer’s Epiphany”. Several years later I took a chance and submitted it to several play publishing houses. To my delight, it was picked up by Pioneer Drama, one of the leading playhouses for High School plays, and published in 2010. It was the first of my plays to get published. (And continues to be my best seller with hundreds of performances each year around North America)

One thing they changed was the title. They called it “Ebenezer’s Christmas Carol”, instead of “Ebenezer’s Epiphany”. I wasn’t happy about this at first. I thought “Ebenezer’s Epiphany” much more clever. But they know what they’re about, and it turns out the title it has now is much more searchable with better sales results.

In any case, I love this short and somewhat silly little play. You might have a chuckle if you decide to read it. Or, maybe next year you and your friends can put on a performance!


  1. Priscilla says:

    This was a super fun play to perform in as well! Lots of great (old!!) memories!

    1. tracykrauss says:

      Yes, it was such fun! Lots of good times and memories…

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