The Cratchit family. Weren’t they in “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens? Yes. But this is about another Cratchit family that is both contemporary and American. 

Adult siblings Martha, Belinda, and (Tiny) Tim share history with Dickens’ fictive family, but also have history of their own making. Maybe the American cousins from the future? Set in a declining American city called Dickens, some of the Cratchits live in the house they grew up in, some of them have moved away, some of them have suddenly returned. They are a family of broken relationships trying to find ways to repair and move forward. Of course they’re also trying to pay their electric bill, fighting for forgiveness, and getting to know each other all over again. There’s also a wedding in the mix. And joyfully, disco music.


Monday, October 23 @ 7:00 PM Central on Zoom.

Join us for a live reading via Zoom. The reading runs approximately 95 minutes with no intermission. Following the reading, stay in our virtual space for a group discussion and meet our artists. For more information, read our Backstage Guide (or downloadable pdf).

Buy tickets HERE or call (773) 654-3103. Suggested donation is $10 or pay-what-you-can. Your Zoom link will be sent the day before the reading and again 1 hour before the reading starts.


JAMES STILL (playwright) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. His plays have been produced throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, South Africa, China and Japan. His new plays include EVERYBODY’S FAVORITE MOTHERS; THE CRATCHITS (IN AMERICA); DINOSAUR(s); (A) NEW WORLD; JOY WAVES TO YOU FROM A DISTANCE; and DASH CLIMBS A ROPE. Recent work includes a trilogy of linked plays: THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT (Indiana Repertory Theatre), APPOGGIATURA (Denver Center Theatre), and MIRANDA (Illusion Theater, Minneapolis). Also: APRIL 4, 1968: BEFORE WE FORGOT HOW TO DREAM (Indiana Repertory Theatre); two plays about the Lincolns: THE WIDOW LINCOLN and THE HEAVENS ARE HUNG IN BLACK ( both premiering at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.); a play for one actor about culinary icon James Beard called I LOVE TO EAT (Portland Center Stage); a play for 57 actors called A LONG BRIDGE OVER DEEP WATERS (Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles); LOOKING OVER THE PRESIDENT’S SHOULDER at theaters across the country; and AND THEN THEY CAME FOR ME at theaters around the world (most recently at Alabama Shakespeare Festival). His short play WHEN MISS LYDIA HINKLEY GIVES A BIRD THE BIRD was a winner of Red Bull Theater’s Short New Play Festival in New York and performed at many festivals. He has directed at theaters around the country including productions of OEDIPUS; 12 ANGRY MEN; RED; A DOLL’S HOUSE, PT 2; GOD OF CARNAGE; THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP… and many others. Still is an elected member of both the National Theatre Conference in New York and the College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center. He received the Otis Guernsey New Voices Award from the William Inge Festival, the Todd McNerney New Play Prize from Spoleto, and the Indiana Authors Award for Drama for his published trilogy THE JACK PLAYS. His plays have been developed at the New Harmony Project, the O’Neill Conference, Sundance, Seven Devils, the Colorado New Play Summit, Launch Pad, and many others. He is a four-time Pulitzer nominee for his work in the theater, and a five-time nominee for his work in television. He is the Playwright in Residence at Indiana Repertory Theatre and lives in Los Angeles.

HALENA KAYS (director) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. She is the head of the directing program for University of Michigan, teaching introductory and intermediate levels of directing and supervises senior directing thesis projects. She is a founding member of the artistic collaborative the Ruffians, a former member of the Big Apple Circus Clown Care unit, past artistic director of the Hypocrites, former co-artistic curator for Theater on the Lake, and co-founder and former artistic director of Playmakers Lab. As an artistic associate with the Neo-Futurists Chicago, she directed Comfortable Shoes, Pop/Waits, 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, Burning Bluebeard, Daredevils, Daredevils Hamlet, Fake Lake, and Wildcat!. Other Chicago directing credits include Endgame, Ivywild, Six Characters in Search of an Author (the Hypocrites), The Magic Play (the Goodman), Lord of the Flies (Steppenwolf), How a Boy Falls (Northlight Theatre), On Clover Road (American Blues Theater), and Feast (the Goodman; part of a collaborative directing effort with the Albany Park Theatre Project). Regionally, she has directed Do You Feel Anger? (Circle X, LA), Shapeshifter (Bard at the Gate with the McCarter Theatre Center), The Magic Play (the Olney Theater Center, the Actor’s Theater of Louisville, Portland Center Stage, and Syracuse Stage), Love Song and The Welkin (Nashville Story Garden), and Secretary (Nashville Rep’s Ingram New Works Festival). She has been nominated for Jeff Awards for Best Supporting Actress, Best Direction, Best New Work, and Best Production; named one of the top 50 players in Chicago theatre by NewCity; and is a recipient of the prestigious 3Arts Award. She received her BS from Northwestern University and her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC).

DAWN BACH (Martha) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. Since joining the Ensemble in 1993, Dawn has appeared in numerous Blues productions over the years, including Catch-22, A Stone Carver, On the Waterfront, A Lie of the Mind and Dark at the Top of the Stairs. She served as musical director/composer for Medea and wrote original music for Toys in the Attic, for which she received the After Dark Award for outstanding original music. She has hosted and narrated numerous industrial films and has appeared on the stages of Lifeline, Shakespeare Project of Chicago, Bailiwick, Next, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, Northlight (Cowgirls, Smoke on the Mountain) and Goodman Theatre (A Christmas Carol). A long-time student of the late Mary Ann Thebus, Dawn is also a trained singer and violinist.


MAYA HLAVA (Billie) is thrilled to back at American Blues Theater where she was seen in Things With Friends for the 2023 Blue Ink Theater Festival.  Other Chicago credits include Dory Fantasmagory (YPPT/Greenhouse Theater); Spring Awakening (Porchlight Theater; Act 5, The Killing Game, and The Nether (A Red Orchid Theatre); Zurich (Steep Theatre);  ShrekWhite Christmas and Bye Bye Birdie (Drury Lane Theatre); Oklahoma (Marriott Theatre); Violet (Griffin Theater); Trevor (Writers Theatre); Jake’s Women (Spartan Theatre Company); The Secret Garden (Court Theatre); The Talking Cure (Idle Muse Theatre Company); Jane Eyre (Lifeline Theatre);The Wheel (Steppenwolf Theatre); Film and Television Credits include The Perpetrator, Chicago Med, The Chi, and The Big Leap. 


JOSLYN JONES (Mrs. F) is a proud Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater. Credits include Flyin’ West (American Blues Theater) Steel Magnolias (Theatre at the Center); Intimate Apparel (Theatre Squared); ANDROMEDA (Theatre Squared); The Project(s) (American Theater Company) Jeff Nomination, Best Production; The Delany Sisters: Having Our Say – The First Hundred Years (Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre); Once On This Island (Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre); 12 Ophelias (Trap Door Theatre); Weekend (TimeLine Theatre), Bourbon At The Border (Eclipse Theatre) BTAA Nomination, Featured Actress; Escape (Live Bait Theatre); Flyin’ West and RAISIN (Court Theatre), Bee-Luther-Hatchee (The University Of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign); Fabulation: Or, The Re-Education of Undine (Next Theatre); Relevant Hearsay (MPACCT: Theater on the Lake); Bee-Luther-Hatchee and Smokey Joe’s Café (Open Door Theater); Meshuggah Nuns! (Chicago Jewish Theatre); The Kurt Weil Revue: Songs of Darkness and Light (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre) Jeff Nomination, Best Musical Production; To Kill A Mockingbird (Metropolis Performing Arts Centre); 2002 Class of The School at Steppenwolf. She has understudied: Having Our Say and Crumbs From The Table of Joy (Goodman Theatre);  Film: Cherry, directed by the Russo Brothers with Tom Holland as her scene partner; Television: South Side-Mrs. Odom (HBO Max); Chicago PD (NBC). Joslyn is a proud member of Actors Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA.

CAMILLE ROBINSON (Belinda)is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. She has been with the company since 2016, after making her debut in the critically-acclaimed production of Little Shop of Horrors. She has also appeared in 4 productions of Blues’ smash holiday tradition, It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!  Recent theater credits include: Once on This Island (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Cinderella (Paramount Theatre) and The Color Purple (Drury Lane Theatre).

Proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA. Represented by Gray Talent Group.


MATTHEW SCHNITKER (Tim) is thrilled to be working with American Blues Theater! Hailing from Florida, he graduated from the University of West Florida with a B.A. in Acting. Recent Chicago credits include Teenage Dick (Theater Wit), Non-Player Character (Red Theater), Curious George (Northbrook Theatre for Young Audiences) and We Found A Hat (Lifeline Theatre). Matthew can also be seen working with Red Theater as one of their company members.



J.G. SMITH (Carol) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater. You may have seen her performing with Blues in It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, On Clover RoadRipped, and virtual readings of The Thanksgiving Play and On the Greenbelt. Theatre: I And You (Peninsula Players); Mother of the Maid (Northlight); Plantation! (Lookingglass); The Art of Sisters (Vision Productions); MARYSHELLEYSHOW (National Tour, Chicago Fringe, TheTankNYC); Peter and the Starcatcher (City Equity Theatre); Alice in WonderlandAs You Like ItKing LearA Christmas Carol (Alabama Shakespeare); and Censored on Final Approach (The GYM at Judson). Film/TV credits include Jennifer Reeder’s Knives and Skin, MTV’s Short Comings, The Dancing Monkey, Dreaming Grand Avenue, Pry Me Open, and Dorm Therapy. Her original films and performance art have shown at New Orleans’ Hell Yes Film Festival, Williamsburg Circus, Salonathon!, Undiscovered Countries: The Infinite Fest, and TransVisions’ virtual SOFT PALETTE festival. She is a proud Equity member and repped by Paonessa Talent Agency. AEA.

The Family Institute at Northwestern University – brings together a diverse group of leading therapists to provide behavioral health care to children, adults, couples and families across the lifespan.
NAMI Chicagoeducates to fight stigma and discrimination, fiercely advocates for our community, and shares hope, connection and expertise with people on their mental health journey.
SAMHSA – an agency within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Their mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

We wish to express our gratitude to the Performers’ Unions:
through Theatre Authority, Inc. for their cooperation in permitting the Artists to appear in this program.
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