'It's About Love': The Holiday Show 'Abuelita's Christmas Carol' Is Streaming This Year
Everyone’s got their own holiday tradition, and for actor and writer Alex Garza, the Christmas season always means performing his one-person show Abuelita’s Christmas Carol. That’s how he’s spent the holiday season for well over a decade. “I wrote this show… about fourteen years ago now,” Garza says. “And it started as just kind of comic monologue based on the character of my grandmother.”
Garza originally wrote the short monologue for an audition, but was later moved to expand the piece. “I felt very inspired to write something that was connected to my family,” he says. “And I had this monologue so I thought, ‘What if I expand on the character of Abuelita, my grandmother?’ And I started thinking of all the people in my family, people in her life, and her experiences. And it started to kind of write itself.”
What began as a purely comic piece began to take on more depth and resonance as it developed. “It was intended just to be funny and comic, but I started thinking about some of the more, I guess, serious moments in my grandmother’s life, some of the losses she has experienced,” Garza says. “It became something more poignant and touching rather than just kind of like an extended comedy skit, you know?”
Once the piece started becoming a full-fledged solo show rather than just a short comic monologue, Garza knew it had to be a Christmas story. “At that time, I’d always wanted to... have my own version of A Christmas Carol as a one-man show,” he says. "And I thought, ‘Well, here’s this wonderful character of Abuelita. What would it be like if she was – she’s not as grumpy as Ebenezer Scrooge – but what if she was in an Ebenezer-Scrooge-type situation where she was being shown her life and what it had meant to her and other people?’”
So Abuelita’s Christmas Carol was born and quickly became a holiday tradition for Garza. He’s performed it every year since, but of course the pandemic has made this year’s production a little different. Rather than travelling the state to perform the show for live audiences, he’s bringing Abuelita to the digital streaming world for one night only.
Garza will be performing the show on December 19 as part of Ground Floor Theatre’s current streaming season. Ground Floor founder and co-artistic director Lisa Scheps says the theater has been transformed into a live streaming studio for the time being. “We’re kind of excited. We’ve turned the theater into a little studio, and we’ve become video experts,” she says with a laugh, adding, “and I’m saying ‘experts’ with air quotes.”
Scheps says this play is a natural fit for the theater. “We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Alex,” she says. “And my relationship with Alex goes back to my first theater, Play! Theatre Group, where Abuelita played there as well. So we feel a certain amount of kinship there.”
Performing Abuelita’s Christmas Carol for a remote audience rather than an in-person one will be a new and unusual experience for Garza. But he sees a silver lining in the fact that he’ll be bringing his Abuelita directly into people’s homes. “I think that’s perfect,” he says. “Because that kind of embodies what the show is about, because the show is about family, it’s about love, it is about home and the traditions that we have with our families. So I think people sitting at home with their families, hopefully watching my show, will kind of feel that intimacy and that warmth.”
'Abuelita's Christmas Carol' is streaming at Ground Floor Theatre on Dec. 19.