A Christmas Carol en La Frontera: Making a Dickens classic relevant on the U.S./ Mexican border.
Adriana Dominguez is an Assistant Professor and Director of Theatre Programs at UTEP. Her primary research interest includes representation in the performing arts. Recent projects include: Lengua, Luna, Real Women Have Curves, and Into the Beautiful North (NEA Big Read).
Jay Stratton is a professional actor, director, and Assistant Professor at UTEP. His primary research focus is on revitalizing and reinventing the classics for modern audiences. Recent projects include: Shakespeare’s Asylum, A Christmas Carol en La Frontera, and the opera Suor Angelica, as well as television appearances.
Our presentation will be an interactive conversation detailing the writing, directing, and production process of adapting the classic, A Christmas Carol for a frontera audience. The presenters discuss their struggles, successes, and strategies of adapting classics for bilingual audiences as well as promoting bilingual work in local schools to promote cultural identity. Samples from the text, video clips, and photos will further the dialogue.
A Christmas Carol en La Frontera is a bold new version of Dickens’ familiar Christmas Carol story. By transplanting the play from Victorian England to the US/Mexican border in the early 20th century, the story finds new life and cultural relevance. The script also benefits from a shrewd dose of bilingualism. Though easily understood by English speaking audiences, the play has a generous helping of español to add to the authenticity of the borderland story.
Born south of the Rio, Benito Scrooge is a ruthless business man who emigrated north in search of wealth. He quickly learned that to succeed in America, one must BE American. Scrooge turned his back on his culture, his heritage, his familia, and of course he turned his back on Navidad. Following the structure of the Dickens classic, Scrooge is visited by a series of specters that guide him through his past, present, and finally through his foreboding future. Through Scrooge’s journey, we see him come to re-embrace his Mexican heritage, his Spanish language, and rediscover a love of Navidad.
A Christmas Carol en La Frontera had it’s premier during the 2018 Holiday season in El paso,Texas. The project had a profound impact on audience members from both sides of the border. While the public performances were successful, the school showings were particularly important. Teachers commented that the kids were much more able to see themselves and their families reflected in the on stage characters and events.
This presentation seeks to investigate the challenges, methodologies, and successes of adapting a classic, while creating a new space for tradition, culture, and language. Additionally, script samples, clips from the script and audience/cast/designer/director perspectives will be included to further the conversation of utilizing classic pieces of theatre to inform the present.
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