On researching Charles Dickens for the VOS Production of A Christmas Carol

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One of the things that we love to do as readers is imagine how an author has written him or herself into a particular story.  Sometimes things are written from the first person perspective, so we may imaging that the “I” of the story is looking from the same eyes as the author.  This may or may not be true, but it certainly is interesting to imagine the world of a novel unveiling itself as the story is revealed, piece by piece.  I think that’s why we love movies based on books so much; they give us that feeling that this is how things looked from the eyes of the author.  Of course, it’s often not the author who makes the movie, it’s a completely different set of people following the vision of a director, not an author.

And this is how it is with the musical VOS is currently in production with, A Christmas Carol.  Dickens, as you may know, published this as a novella just before Christmas in 1843.  It was a hit, and it’s widely looked upon as the tome of how modern Christmas is celebrated in western society.  At least, that’s how I see it. 

Reading it again, and literally seeing the story unfold around me night after night, I wonder whether our world is so different from 19th century London, England.  It’s certainly something to ponder, especially when we think of Christmas, which is a time, of all times, when stopping and thinking is a good thing to do.

The thing is, Dickens believed in the power of philanthropy, and he exploited this belief to full extent in his Christmas story, and his other serialized works.  He also tends to combine his notions of good will for our fellow men with the idea that we grow ever older, and with the passing of time, our past choices accrue like pennies in the till, and they may weigh us down.

As an actor portraying Dickens in his own story, it’s kind of a bewildering thought, especially with ghosts, time, fog and snowy air swirling around the stage.

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Also, I wonder if I like Dickens better with a goatee, or clean-shaven.  Heady stuff, indeed.

 

more later – joel