Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dickens by Dickens

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

View online here
retta reports

Just about everybody is familiar with Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.

 It’s hard not to be.  The novella has been made into plays, films, musicals, radio plays, operas, and television specials.  Scrooge has been a man, a woman, a duck, a Smurf, Mr. Magoo, Yosemite Sam, and Oscar the Grouch, among others.

But imagine Scrooge played by Dickens?  How about Bob Cratchit played by Dickens?  Or the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future?

Charles Dickens loved to perform, and one of the many ways he used his boundless energy was in giving public readings, and playing the different characters.  His first public reading was A Christmas Carol.

If I could time travel, I’d like to be in the audience of one of those readings.  The day after Thanksgiving, I came close.  At Mechanics Hall in Worcester, MA,
on the same stage where Charles Dickens appeared in 1868, his great-great-grandson, Gerald Charles Dickens,* gave a one-man performance of A Christmas Carol
View online here

Our lives are about technology.  We’re used to super-duper special effects, enhancing and sometimes entirely usurping the place of humans in films and TV.  Here was one man on a stage performing a work written 170 years ago. Minimal props and little in the way of costume changes.  Yet I discerned no signs of restlessness or impatience.  No ring tones playing.  No audience chatter.  There was laughter and tears (yes, I wept over Tiny Tim), but above all there was rapt attention.  He had the audience captivated—much, I imagined, as his great-great grandfather must have done when buildings like the Mechanics Hall were brand new.

For Mr. Dickens’s angle on his performance, the venue, and the story of his great-great-grandfather’s 1868 appearance, please scroll down this entry of his blog.

This is part of a tour, and you might find a performance near you by looking at the 2013 Dickens Performance Schedule here.  He’ll be appearing at, among other places, Winterthur Museum and Colonial Williamsburg, two sites popular with the Two Nerdy History Girls.
*Not the only talented descendant. See here  and here.


Josephine Boone said...

A friend and I saw Mr. Gerald Dickens do a reading from "A Child's Journey with Dickens" last year; he was absolutely wonderful! Please go and see him if you can!

Jim Schmidt said...

Wish he was coming this way but I did get my copy of Christmas Carol signed by his g-g and g-g-g- grandaughters at the Dickens Festival in Galveston, TX, last year.

Keep up the Great Work!

Jennifer Delamere said...

Thank you for this great post! I have no doubt Dickens' work is far better when performed, and no doubt he meant it that way too. People would often read aloud to each other in those days. I love the occasional lapses of the "narrator" voice into first person, such as: "I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail..." and " close to it as I am now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow..." I listen to the audiobook of "A Christmas Carol" every year--there are amazing versions by Jim Dale, Frank Muller, and Tim Curry. The whole thing can be read aloud in about 3 hours and is marvelous entertainment!

Regencyresearcher said...

A Christmas Carol is by far Dickens' best work.
I'd love to hear it recited. I can even enjoy Mr. Magoo as Scrooge.

Donna Hatch, Regency romance author said...

How wonderful!!! I'd love to see that live performance. And I just found another reason to wish for a time machine :-)

Time Traveling in Costume said...

I missed seeing Gerald Dickens perform at the Riverside Dickens Festival back in 2003 when I didn't realize what was going on. I did however purchase a CD of his recording from Amazon and listened to it every year at Xmas.
When he returned to Riverside last year I was able to attend his tea performance with my fellow costuming friends. So all dressed up in my holiday bustle gown, I greeted him and shared how happy I was that he had come back to us. He was surprised that I had that CD from so long ago. At the end of his performance as he walked among the tables and wishing us in his Scrooge persona of Merry Christmas! He walked over to me, leaned over, kissed my hand, and said "Enchante madam. That's the only French I know". I am a fan forever!
You can read my blog about it if you like.

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