The man who hated Christmas

'A story of redemption'.

'A story of redemption'.

CHRISTMAS SPIRIT: Splendidly costumed in a fur-lined dark-green cape, blood-red dress and holly wreath, Wendy Dewstow as The Ghost of Christmas Present in Evolution Theatre Company’s immersive production, A Christmas Carol, takes a moment to salute the festive occasion in a manner prescribed by the story’s Victorian author, Charles Dickens. Picture supplied

A 360 degree, immersive theatrical experience is what audiences can expect at Evolution Theatre Company’s upcoming production based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

In break-away from the traditional stage, director Dinna Myers has planned for Richard T Orlando’s adaptation of Dickens’ 1843 novella to play out in small sets around and among the audience. The various locations include greedy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge’s office, underpaid employee Bob Cratchit’s house, and Scrooge’s nephew Fred’s festive home.

A Christmas Carol opens on a bleak, cold Christmas Eve in London. Played by Fraser Grout, Scrooge regards Christmas as a humbug. He refuses a Christmas dinner invitation from his nephew Fred and begrudgingly allows his clerk, Bob Cratchit, Christmas Day off.

“A Christmas Carol is a story of redemption,” says Myers.

“It’s about a person who has become overcome by the material side of life and has lost opportunities for love and the enrichment of family.”

Scrooge’s sole friend, Jacob Marley, who died on Christmas Eve seven years earlier, comes back to offer Scrooge an opportunity for redemption.

Played by Simon Marin, Marley’s ghost materialises to tell Scrooge he will be visited during the night by three spirits.

The first spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Past, played by Suzan Anderson, takes Scrooge to Christmas scenes of Scrooge’s more innocent boyhood, Wendy Dewstow’s The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to celebrations of Christmas in a miner’s cottage and in a lighthouse. In a scene set at Bob Cratchit’s family feast, the audience meets Tiny Tim, who is seriously ill. The spirit tells Scrooge that unless the course of events changes, Tiny Tim will die.

The third spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, also played by Anderson, shows Scrooge at a Christmas Day in the future. The silent ghost reveals scenes that involve the death of a man whose funeral is attended by local businessmen only on condition that lunch is provided. When the ghost lets Scrooge see a neglected grave, with a tombstone with his name on it, Scrooge pledges to change his ways.

Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning a changed man. He spends the afternoon with Fred’s family and sends a large turkey to the Cratchit home for Christmas dinner. He gives Cratchit an increase in pay and becomes a father figure to Tiny Tim. From then on Scrooge treats people with kindness.

For the Evolution Theatre Production Myers has done away with the fourth wall — the imaginary division between the stage and audience — and has aimed for an immersive, all-surrounding theatrical experience. Along with the various sets around the auditorium action will take place inside the audience’s circle.

“There’s basically a Greek chorus who act as narrators and weave constantly through the audience,” says Myers.

In classical Greek theatre, the function of the chorus was to outline what was going on in the play to help the audience follow the performance. Myer’s chorus performers will also play secondary characters such as the Cratchitt family members, maids and others.

“The play jumps back and forth between the presentational and the representational,” says Myers.

“Sometimes the actors speak to the audience and at one point the voices circle around the audience so the audience will feel like spectators in the middle.”

Myers reassures patrons of A Christmas Carol that no one in the audience will be dragged into the action, that the production is not a musical and that because the production does involve ghosts it might not be suitable for the very young. She recommends show-goers should be no younger than 8-years-old.

Christmas as we know it would barely be Christmas if the Victorian author Dickens had never penned A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, commonly known as A Christmas Carol.

“The way we celebrate Christmas was because of this novel,” says Myers.

“Christmas was not a major holiday before the publication of A Christmas Carol.”

Dickens was not the first author to celebrate the Christmas season in literature. Among his influences was Washington Irving’s 1819 work The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. Dickens and Irving shared the belief that the staging of a nostalgic English Christmas might help restore the social harmony they felt had been lost in the modern world.

Celebration of the season grew in popularity through the Victorian era. The Christmas tree was introduced in Britain during the 18th century and by the early 19th century there was a revival of interest in Christmas carols. Dicken later inspired several aspects of Christmas, including family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games and a generosity of spirit.

Evolution Theatre Company presents Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, 75 Disraeli Street, December 7-22. Visit http://www.evolutiontheatre.org.nz/a-christmas-carol to book tickets. Adults $32, seniors $29, 17 yo and under $24.

A 360 degree, immersive theatrical experience is what audiences can expect at Evolution Theatre Company’s upcoming production based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

In break-away from the traditional stage, director Dinna Myers has planned for Richard T Orlando’s adaptation of Dickens’ 1843 novella to play out in small sets around and among the audience. The various locations include greedy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge’s office, underpaid employee Bob Cratchit’s house, and Scrooge’s nephew Fred’s festive home.

A Christmas Carol opens on a bleak, cold Christmas Eve in London. Played by Fraser Grout, Scrooge regards Christmas as a humbug. He refuses a Christmas dinner invitation from his nephew Fred and begrudgingly allows his clerk, Bob Cratchit, Christmas Day off.

“A Christmas Carol is a story of redemption,” says Myers.

“It’s about a person who has become overcome by the material side of life and has lost opportunities for love and the enrichment of family.”

Scrooge’s sole friend, Jacob Marley, who died on Christmas Eve seven years earlier, comes back to offer Scrooge an opportunity for redemption.

Played by Simon Marin, Marley’s ghost materialises to tell Scrooge he will be visited during the night by three spirits.

The first spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Past, played by Suzan Anderson, takes Scrooge to Christmas scenes of Scrooge’s more innocent boyhood, Wendy Dewstow’s The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to celebrations of Christmas in a miner’s cottage and in a lighthouse. In a scene set at Bob Cratchit’s family feast, the audience meets Tiny Tim, who is seriously ill. The spirit tells Scrooge that unless the course of events changes, Tiny Tim will die.

The third spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, also played by Anderson, shows Scrooge at a Christmas Day in the future. The silent ghost reveals scenes that involve the death of a man whose funeral is attended by local businessmen only on condition that lunch is provided. When the ghost lets Scrooge see a neglected grave, with a tombstone with his name on it, Scrooge pledges to change his ways.

Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning a changed man. He spends the afternoon with Fred’s family and sends a large turkey to the Cratchit home for Christmas dinner. He gives Cratchit an increase in pay and becomes a father figure to Tiny Tim. From then on Scrooge treats people with kindness.

For the Evolution Theatre Production Myers has done away with the fourth wall — the imaginary division between the stage and audience — and has aimed for an immersive, all-surrounding theatrical experience. Along with the various sets around the auditorium action will take place inside the audience’s circle.

“There’s basically a Greek chorus who act as narrators and weave constantly through the audience,” says Myers.

In classical Greek theatre, the function of the chorus was to outline what was going on in the play to help the audience follow the performance. Myer’s chorus performers will also play secondary characters such as the Cratchitt family members, maids and others.

“The play jumps back and forth between the presentational and the representational,” says Myers.

“Sometimes the actors speak to the audience and at one point the voices circle around the audience so the audience will feel like spectators in the middle.”

Myers reassures patrons of A Christmas Carol that no one in the audience will be dragged into the action, that the production is not a musical and that because the production does involve ghosts it might not be suitable for the very young. She recommends show-goers should be no younger than 8-years-old.

Christmas as we know it would barely be Christmas if the Victorian author Dickens had never penned A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, commonly known as A Christmas Carol.

“The way we celebrate Christmas was because of this novel,” says Myers.

“Christmas was not a major holiday before the publication of A Christmas Carol.”

Dickens was not the first author to celebrate the Christmas season in literature. Among his influences was Washington Irving’s 1819 work The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. Dickens and Irving shared the belief that the staging of a nostalgic English Christmas might help restore the social harmony they felt had been lost in the modern world.

Celebration of the season grew in popularity through the Victorian era. The Christmas tree was introduced in Britain during the 18th century and by the early 19th century there was a revival of interest in Christmas carols. Dicken later inspired several aspects of Christmas, including family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games and a generosity of spirit.

Evolution Theatre Company presents Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, 75 Disraeli Street, December 7-22. Visit http://www.evolutiontheatre.org.nz/a-christmas-carol to book tickets. Adults $32, seniors $29, 17 yo and under $24.

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