Julianna Gonzalez is a playwright and theatre-maker living in Detroit, Michigan, where she works with Black and Brown Theatre. She holds a BFA in Drama from Vassar College, and her work has been produced in Portland, New York City, and at Vassar College. She served as the assistant director for the world premiere of Óye Óya at Portland’s Milagro Theater.
A Columbus Christmas Carol is an adaptation of your original play, Blessed: A Christmas Carol Adaptation, which is based in Detroit, and in turn an adaptation of the Dickens’ classic tale, A Christmas Carol. Can you take us through your creative process and how you adapted your play for Columbus?
“I was very fortunate to have a great deal of help from Leda and her team in the adaptation for Columbus. They provided me with resources in the forms of videos, links to articles, and personal experiences which allowed for a rich picture of a place I’ve yet to visit (but hope to soon!) It was important to me that the characters reflect the population of the city, so Leda and I had several conversations about the adjustments necessary to make that so. In our talks, we realized that the demographic makeup reflected in the original script was not unsimilar to a large and important part of Columbus’ history and growth. So the script ended up changing a lot less than anticipated — it was then expected that the cast and team would breathe their own unique Columbus-quality into it.”
Both Blessed and A Columbus Christmas Carol feature “Ebony Scrooge” as the iconic villain-turned-hero and include moments of Spanish dialogue. How important is it for today’s audiences to see modern depictions and characters reflective of themselves and their own communities?
“I can’t imagine a more important charge right now, as an artist, to reflect all of the beautiful and hard parts of the communities of which I am a part. Growing up, I sought stories in all forms that were familiar, that would ring in rhythm with the music inside. In finding these stories, I would find home, I would find acceptance, and an opportunity to learn, grow, love. Having a classic like Dickens’ A Christmas Carol adapted to tell the story from a different lens, one that can engage Black and Brown communities is, I hope, a statement that we all deserve to see ourselves in a story. That every story can be a chance for reflection.”
For the safety of our actors and our audience, A Columbus Christmas Carol will be rehearsed and presented virtually. What do you hope to accomplish with this modern adaptation as many family traditions will be celebrated differently this year?
“First and foremost, I applaud and am grateful to CATCO for prioritizing the health and safety of their patrons and creative team. It is a loving task to bring thoughtful art into people’s homes during this time. I hope that this adaptation will bring families a little Christmas magic and a little theater magic into their homes.”
What’s something that you want everyone to know about this production before they see it?
“I’d like for people to know that Leda and her team are phenomenal, and they will put on an amazing show! And make sure to have some cookies and hot cocoa nearby while watching. “