Play by Shelton High graduate being performed in New York City
A new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” by a 1992 Shelton High School (SHS) graduate has opened at a Manhattan theater.
The play was adapted by Matt Opatrny, who went to SHS and is a co-founder of the Blessed Unrest theater company, which describes itself as offering “theater for the adventurous.” Opatrny now lives in New York City while his parents reside in Shelton.
The Blessed Unrest version of the holiday classic is described as “a raw, physical and darkly funny adaptation” that is appropriate for adults and adventurous children ages 12 and older, according to publicity material. It runs from Dec. 5 to 22 at the Interart Theatre, 500 West 52 St. (corner of 10th Avenue), New York City.
Insight into the socio-economic system
Six actors play 37 characters in Blessed Unrest’s “darkly funny” exploration of Scrooge’s secretive past, the troubled present around him, and the tragic future that is coming if he continues to live with his eyes closed, according to publicity material.
In 1843, Charles Dickens planned to publish a political pamphlet entitled “An Appeal to the People of England on Behalf of the Poor Man’s Child,” but instead wrote “A Christmas Carol.”
This adaptation returns to the story’s original intent as an examination of an unjust socio-economic system that benefits a few at the top while the masses struggle to meet their basic needs. It shows the capacity of an individual to break out of solitude, strive to be known, and enact positive change, according to publicity material.
Matt Opatmy’s background in theater
Shelton High School graduate Matt Opatrny (playwright) is the founding managing director of Blessed Unrest. While with Blessed Unrest, Opatrny wrote “Burn, Crave, Hold” (winner of the 2008 New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Production, and nominee for Outstanding Original Script and eight others).
He also co-wrote “The Sworn Virgin and Doruntine” (with Teatri Oda), co-wrote “Eurydice’s Dream” and “ArtCamp SexyTime FootBall,” and co-adapted “Lying and Certain Things Which I Will Call Sacred (The Lovers’ Project).”
Opatrny has taught devised theater at Texas Tech’s WildWind Performance Lab, and movement and stage combat at Centenary College, the School for Film and TV, Greenwich Academy and Columbia Preparatory. He has trained with the SITI Company and at Clemson University.
Performance times and tickets
Performances of “A Christmas Story” from Dec. 5 to 22 are Wednesdays to Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Mondays at 7 p.m., with additional shows on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 22 at 3 p.m.
The Saturday, Dec. 14 performance at 8 p.m., along with a 3 p.m. matinee that day, will take place at the Emelin Theatre, 153 Library Lane, Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Tickets are $18 for performances at the Interart Theatre and can be purchased online at www.BlessedUnrest.org or by calling 646-238-0829.
The running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. Following every performance audience members are invited to stay and mingle with the artists and actors at post-show parties in the theater lobby.
About the cast and crew
The play’s director and choreographer is Jessica Burr, who is the founding artistic director of Blessed Unrest. Burr was honored with the 2011 Lucille Lortel Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women in recognition of her work as a director and the body of work that Blessed Unrest has created under her leadership.
Cast members of “A Christmas Carol” are:
— Damen Scranton as Ebenezer Scrooge (Princess Grace Award winner)
— Sora Baek
— Jessi Blue Gormezano
— Tatyana Kot
— Nathan Richard Wagner (“After Midnight” and “The Gray Notebook” with Target Margin)
— Joshua Wynter (“Hamlet” with Metropolitan Opera).
The creative team includes Neal Wilkinson (set design), Cynthia Jankowsky (lighting design), Summer Lee Jack (costume design) and Sam Kusnetz (sound design). Jaimie Van Dyke is the production stage manager.
An experimental theater company
The nonprofit Blessed Unrest uses the safe structure of training, rehearsal and performance to create an environment where dangerous things can happen, according to publicity material.
The experimental theater company produces new works for the stage in New York City and abroad, building original pieces and reconstructing established texts with its diverse ensemble of artists. It has been generating original work since 1999, including more than 20 full productions (13 world premieres), plus numerous workshops and readings.
Blessed Unrest is in residence at the Interart Theatre in Manhattan and has performed at New York City’s P.S. 122, Public Theater, New York University, Columbia University and Manhattan School of Music.
Breaking down cultural barriers
The theater company’s philosophy is that artistic collaboration has the power to break down cultural barriers and build international bridges. It has partnered with Teatri Oda of Prishtina, Kosovo, having twice toured internationally with original bilingual plays.
Blessed Unrest’s productions have been described as having “magnetism and electricity” (TimeOut NY), “physical ingenuity and visual artistry” (NYTheatre.com), and as “a triumph of acting, choreography and sound design” (Back Stage).
Learn more at www.BlessedUnrest.org.