Bucknell to host virtual screening of 'A Christmas Carol' adaption

A still from Manual Cinema's adaption of "A Christmas Carol."

LEWISBURG — Of all the retellings of Charles Dickens’ tale of Scrooge’s journey toward Christmas joy, this might be the only one with paper puppets on a livestream presentation.

The Weis Center for the Performing Arts, at Bucknell University, will offer a virtual holiday performance of “A Christmas Carol” by the Emmy Award-winning theatre company Manual Cinema. Show times are 8 p.m. on Saturday and December 17, and 4 p.m. on December 13. The runtime for the performance is one hour and is suggested for ages 5 and older.

Combining live entertainment with pandemic safety restrictions, the show will be performed live in Chicago and presented by a live stream “with hundreds of paper puppets, miniatures, silhouettes, and a live original score in an imaginative re-invention of a cherished holiday tradition,” as stated on Bucknell’s website.

Adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens, this version was written by the Manual Cinema artistic directors.

“Due to the pandemic, it has been impossible for audiences to safely gather and experience the power and magic of live performance,” said Kathryn Maguet, executive director of the Weis Center. “The ever-inventive theater from Chicago, Manual Cinema, is known to central Pennsylvania audiences from their brilliant production of ‘Frankenstein’ that was presented on the Weis Center fall season last year. We’re very excited to offer their brand new production of the holiday classic, ‘A Christmas Carol.’”

Manual Cinema’s retelling focuses on Aunt Trudy, “an avowed holiday skeptic” who is tasked with recreating her late husband’s famous holiday cheer. Alone under lockdown in her studio apartment, Aunt Trudy reconstructs Joe’s ‘Christmas Carol’ puppet show and shares it with her family on Christmas Eve — via Zoom call. The magic happens as “Trudy becomes more absorbed in her own version of the story, the puppets take on a life of their own, and the family’s call transforms into a stunning cinematic adaptation of Dickens’s classic ghost story.”

“What makes this piece so unique and special is that it was created specifically for virtual audiences,” Maguet said, noting the Zoom narrative. “You can expect to see hundreds of individually designed and uniquely created puppets, along with an original music score to accompany the performance.”

“Using vintage overhead projectors, multiple screens, puppets, actors, live feed cameras, multi-channel sound design, and a live music ensemble, Manual Cinema transforms the experience of attending the cinema and imbues it with liveness, ingenuity, and theatricality,” according to their website.

Tickets are $20 per household. Orders can be placed at Bucknell.edu/BoxOffice or 570-577-1000. Ticket purchasers will receive a livestream link 24 hours prior to the performance. It is recommended to test the link prior to show time.

This performance is sponsored in part by Martha and Alan Barrick and Coldwell Banker Penn One Real Estate, of Lewisburg.

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