In December, 2002, I was asked to write a ‘potted’ version of Charles Dickens’ famous tale; One that can be taught to children and performed by them with the help of a narrator. So with apologies to the great Victorian writer, here it is:
A Christmas Carol
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
Narrator: Once there was a mean and miserly old man. His name was Ebenezer Scrooge (Boo!). Oh …………..what a miserable old skinflint he was! – When his nephew called to invite him to spend Christmas with him and his wife, all he could say was:
Scrooge…..Bah! Humbug! (Boo!)
Narrator: When two visitors called, asking Scrooge to donate a little money to help the poor over Christmas, he said..
Scrooge……Bah! Humbug! (Boo!)
Narrator: He had a clerk named Bob Cratchit, who had lots of children. One of them was called, Tiny Tim. He was crippled and very poorly (Ahhh!). Scrooge was locking up the office on Christmas Eve and he, very begrudgingly told Cratchit that he could have the whole of Christmas Day off – but he must be in all the earlier the next morning! (Boo!)
Scrooge went home to his bleak apartment and was getting ready for bed when he heard a clanking and clattering (clanking & clattering noise) coming up the stairs – then emerging through the bedroom door – came the ghost of his long dead partner, Jacob Marley! (Oooer!). Long chains were wrapped around Marley’s body and were dragging on the floor behind him.
Marley: Ebenezer, I come to warn you! If you don’t mend your ways and become a kinder man, You will end up like me! Forced to wander the world for all eternity, carrying the heavy burden of guilt, forged link by link throughout my life! Take heed of what you see and mend your ways!
Narrator: Scrooge shivered with fear and listened as his dead partner told him that he would be visited by three spirits – The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas yet to Come. Marley then picked up his chains and walked backwards towards the window. He then floated out into the night sky – moaning and crying in agony! (Marley exits backwards, moaning and crying etc!)
Narrator: Scrooge was terrified! And then he began to think that maybe he had imagined it all and went to bed. (Clock chimes) Suddenly, he was awakened by the chiming of his clock. It was midnight and he sat up in bed as a spectre appeared in front of him.(Ghost appears) The ghost pointed a finger towards him and beckoned him to come from his bed.
Scrooge: (Frightened) Who – who are you?
Ghost: I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Scrooge: Long past?
Ghost: Your past!
Narrator: He took Scrooge’s arm and led him to the window. He pointed out – Scrooge could see a school-room, deserted except for one solitary child. It was Scrooge himself as a boy – not allowed home for the Holiday like the others – his father didn’t want him! (Ahhh!).
Ghost: Let us see another Christmas.
Narrator: The scene was the same school-room – only dirtier and grimier – the same solitary boy was still there – older and just as sad. The door burst open and in came a girl (enter Fan)
Scrooge: It’s Fan! My sister!
Fan: Ebenezer! I’ve come to take you home! Father has changed. – he is much kinder now – come, the carriage is outside waiting for you!
Ghost: Always a delicate creature. But she had a large heart.
Scrooge: So she had. So she had.
Ghost: She died a young woman and had, I think, children.
Scrooge: One child.
Ghost: True – your nephew!
Scrooge: (feeling guilty) Yes.
Narrator: The ghost took Scrooge through his early life as an apprenticed clerk for old Fezziwig, who treated him well – into manhood, when he began to value money and gain – more than friendships. Scrooge for the first time saw himself as his past had made him. He didn’t like what he saw.
Suddenly he was back in his bed, awaitingthe next spirit – The Ghost of Christmas Present - He didn't have to wait long.
(Enter 2nd. ghost).
This spirit showed him things as they were now. He took him to Bob Cratchit’s house. Mrs. Cratchit was preparing Christmas dinner. Even with the meagre pittance that Scrooge paid his clerk, they managed to fill a table with potatoes and vegetables – and a goose! Bob entered, with Tiny Tim perched on his shoulder (enter Cratchit and Tiny Tim).
Bob: A Merry Christmas to us all my dears!
Tiny Tim: God Bless us every one!
Narrator: Said Tiny Tim – Scrooge turned to the ghost:
Scrooge: Tell me Spirit – will Tiny Tim live?
Ghost: I see a vacant seat in the chimney corner, and a crutch without an owner. If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, the child will die! (Ghost exits)
Narrator: The clock struck again and the third spirit entered (enter third spirit), The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Scrooge was more fearful of this ghost than the others – with every reason!
It took him to a group of women who were arguing over a deceased person’s belongings. Another group, this time of business men who were discussing the death of someone they knew. There was no sympathy in the discussion, just a simple exchange of news and speculation that there were unlikely to be any mourners at the funeral!
Scrooge was then shown a corner of a derelict, overgrown cemetery. There was a neglected gravestone and the name inscribed in cold letters was – Ebenezer Scrooge!
Scrooge: Oh Spirit, hear me. I am not the man I was – I will not be the man I used to be. Why show me this if I am past all hope?
Narrator: The ghost dissolved (exit ghost) and Scrooge was once again sat in his bed! It was the morning. He pinched himself –then jumped out of bed, laughing and dancing around.
Scrooge: I’m alive! I’m alive! I must make amends.
Narrator: And so he did! He doubled Bob Cratchit’s salary and made sure that Tiny Tim did not die. He became a real uncle and friend to his nephew.
It was later said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.
May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed:
All: God Bless Us, Every One!
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