Peru, Nebraska, The Past, A Present Yet to Come. The apocryphal (and mostly fictional) theatrical origins of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” A Ghost of an Idea…

A staged reading of a new play by Matt Schatz, directed by Laura Lippman

Peru Theatre Company continues its celebration of new plays this semester with a holiday offering for November. The Past, A Present Yet to Come. The apocryphal (and mostly fictional) theatrical origins of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” A Ghost of an Idea…is a brand-new play by Matt Schatz.  Lippman and Schatz have worked together since graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University where Schatz earned his MFA in playwrighting, and Lippman in Directing. 

Schatz describes his play as such: “London. Early December 1842. An ambitious young family man plans an elaborate trick on his old miser of an uncle, Ebenezer Scrooge. To help, he enlists a sarcastic and morally suspect female theatrical producer, and a mumbly writer, who hasn't had a hit since Nicholas Nickleby.” The play is inspired by Dickens’ canon, as well as his personal and professional life. 

The play is also informed by Schatz’s own life. When talking about what compelled him to write the play, Schatz says: “Full disclosure: because I’m a Jew, I’ve never celebrated Christmas. But I love it so much. Of course, nearly everything I know about Christmas comes from art. Movies, TV Shows, plays, stories, songs, store windows… And this idea of Christmas all started with Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, didn’t it? Why else would we keep telling his story repeatedly?” Although the play takes place in 1842, Schatz also imbues his darkly comedic play with 2023 relevance. Schatz says: “A Christmas Carol is the origin story of the modern idea of Christmas. I think that’s why I wanted to come up with a fun, apocryphal origin story of A Christmas Carol itself. My version of this story is about three very different people who need their kind of Christmas transformation. Dickens had a real-life transformation from a casual bigot and antisemite to… less of one. And that’s in my play too. When I wrote it last year, this subplot felt timely and essential, but of course, I had no idea how much these themes would be on so many of our minds and hearts this year.” 

Lippman directs PTC members Trey Drake as “Charles Dickens”, Lucas Hrabik as “Fred Fredrickson” and Kalika Schryer reading Stage Directions. Lippman will play the role of theatre producer “J.B. Roth”.   

The Past, A Present Yet to Come is a script in hand-staged reading and performs Tuesday 11/28, Wednesday 11/29 at 6 pm, and Thursday 11/30 at 5:30 pm in Jindra Black Box Theatre. Tickets are FREE for PSC students, staff & faculty. $20 for general admission, $10 for seniors and visiting students.