November’s Awesome Ottawa award goes to Nicholas Leno and Norah Paton to support an interactive audio play of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that Ottawa residents can enjoy in their own homes and neighbourhoods.
“Audiences will have an audio track and bag of items delivered to them,” explains Nicholas. “The audio track will layer narration and dialogue from Dickens’ book with custom-built foley and wayfinding instructions. These instructions will guide audiences through the story and invite them to explore their own neighbourhood, while using a simple bag of items such as coins, finger puppets, pop-up cards, food, and lights. With clear instructions in the audio track, audiences will create their own journey through Christmas past, present, and future.”
“Expanding on the idea of a museum audio guide or a walking tour,” Nicholas continues, “we want to create an outdoor, accessible experience for families over the holidays. The project will allow audiences to have a fun, communal experience of this classic story, no matter what restrictions are in place in the region in December.”
“We intend to bring A Christmas Carol into the here and now by situating the audience as Dickens’ protagonist Scrooge,” says Nicholas. “Navigating their own home and neighbourhood throughout the story, audiences will consider the ways in which Dickens’ story is applicable to their own world. This will create a story that is centred around notions of empathy and sharing resources.”
“As the world of live performance desperately searches for ways to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions,” he says, “this type of augmented experience could offer a new way of enjoying some of the live elements we miss in online performances. With our small audience bubble we can find a sense of community, and even by simply asking audiences to leave their homes, we make an event out of the piece.”
The interactive show is pay-what-you-can, with tickets available while supplies last at a-christmas-carol-ottawa.myshopify.com.
Nicholas and Norah are local theatre artists whose independent practices have been halted due to COVID-19.
Funded by Ottawa, ON (November 2020)