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via Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble

Local theater troupe puts an Appalachian twist on Dickens' classic

Many will rush off to hear Christmas stories of Who-ville, New York City or London, but this year, Athens residents will hear one that takes place close to home.

Thursday, The Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble will present An Appalachian Christmas Carol, the group’s American take on the classic Charles Dickens' Christmas tale.

This revamped Christmas show is set in 1907 in Appalachia and follows Eb Scrooge, who, instead of owning a bank like his English counterpart, owns a local coal mine. Because the show is set during the Industrial Revolution, Scrooge’s mine has made him wealthy, but also greedy.

Company member Merri Biechler, who has been working on the production for two years, adapted the show. Biechler said that the inspiration for the play came from different parts of the Athens area.

“I relied a lot on the Alden Library archives and met with the people in the group Little Cities of Black Diamonds and met with so many wonderful historians who are so keyed in with the area’s history,” she said.

Because of the extensive research that Biechler and the company went through for the show, Andy Felt, director and 2009 Ohio University MFA alumnus, said that the show feels genuinely American and unlike other reboots before.

“I think this the most American version I’ve ever seen,” Felt said. “Most of the time it’s British and sometimes they’ll just do it in an accent or throw it in the ‘wild West,’ but she really tied into the American ideals of consumerism and the relationship between workers and their owners, but kept it timeless.”

Though the show has gone through changes, Felt said that the message of redemption still shines through like the classic tale.

“I think the message is the same, but it’s amplified,” he said. “In Dickens, the thing that resonated is the effect that one man has and in this, he’s the owner of the mine and basically the owner of the town. The other message is the way you treat people can make a huge difference down to a quality of a person’s life.”

Keeping in theme with the show’s local feel, the production features professional actor’s from the company as well as community members and local children. The production will play at Stuart’s Opera House, which the company said in a press release was a conscious choice to add to the local feel.


What: An Appalachian Christmas Carol

When: 7 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday  

Where: Staurt’s Opera House, 52 Public Sq.

Admission: Adult $18; Students and Seniors $15; Children 12 and Under $12

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