About our Production
A Christmas Carol is perhaps the most adapted piece of fiction in the body of the world’s literature. Dickens’ classic has been brought to life on stage, in film, on television and radio by use of dazzling special effects, smoke, fog, mirrors, cartoon characters, and song. What makes our production unique is that we have returned to what we consider the essence of the magic of theatre: the partnership between the actor and the imagination of the audience. Nearly every word in the script is taken directly from Dickens’ novella, with only five adult and two child actors playing all the characters. Our play takes place in a neutral Victorian setting that represents all the locations described in the story, and the objects necessary to create the world of the play are all on stage, in view of the spectators. The children will be reading the story aloud, and the action will spring from them—thus creating a story from their imaginations, much like we are asking the audience to do. You will see this magical and heartwarming story come to life right before your eyes.
Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England on February 7, 1812, the second of John and Elizabeth Dickens’ eight children. The family moved to London in 1823, and John Dickens met with financial disaster and was arrested for debt and imprisoned in the Marshalsea Debtors Prison. In those days debtors prisons were places where entire families lived while working themselves out of debt. Twelve year old Charles was sent to live with a distant relative and went to work at Warren’s Blacking Factory labeling bottles. Charles was released from this life of industrial servitude in 1824 when his father received an inheritance and settled his debts. In 1833, Dickens published his first piece in the Monthly Magazine under the alias ‘Boz’. By his twenty-fourth birthday, Dickens published his first book, a collection of these writings entitled Sketches by Boz. Dickens’ body of work includes such well known stories as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby, A Tale of Two Cities, and in December 1843, A Christmas Carol. Dickens spent his entire career writing about the social ills which affected his home city of London, a city swelled by hundreds of thousands of people rushing to find gainful employment in the advent of the Industrial Revolution. His stories are peopled with rich, colorful, idiosyncratic, and delightful characters who, like Ebenezer Scrooge, have become cheerful additions to our culture.
Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas story is a staple offering at this time of year—there are probably at least half a dozen productions going on within driving distance from where you live. Here in Lanesboro, this is Commonweal’s sixth time bringing A Christmas Carol to life on stage, and as you will soon see, this is a distinctive imagining of the tale, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It would certainly be a simple (and popular) choice to present this play with traditional casting and authentic Victorian-era sets and costumes, and I do hope you all see a production like that at some point in time, but here in
Lanesboro, we’re aiming for a different target. Sometimes when we revisit a favorite story, it’s so well-known to us that we skip over parts without realizing it. It’s like we sit back and skim our way through the story. I’m hoping that, as you sit in our theatre, that you won’t do that. I’m hoping that once the play starts, you’ll see that we’ve challenged your expectations of what’s going to happen. The gift for you in this experience is that maybe you’ll rediscover some lost moment from the story that you haven’t thought about for a long time. And when you do, maybe it will make the whole experience feel like it’s happening for the first time—and then, you’ll fall in love with A Christmas Carol all over again. Enjoy the show. Peace on Earth, goodwill to everyone.