Monday, 31 October 2011

Monday, 24 October 2011

Listings: Scrooge on Stage, 2011-12

Got a production of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol or Scrooge to add to the listings? Leave a comment below.


December 6 - January 15 Greenwich Playhouse, London
A Christmas Carol - a family-friendly stage version of Dickens's beloved festive morality tale. Ages 3+

December 17 - January 3 The Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich
A Christmas Carol - adapted by John Mortimer from Charles Dickens


November 25 - December 30 Hartford Stage, Hartford, CT
A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas - adapted by Michael Wilson

North Carolina
November 25 - December 24 Triad Stage, Greensboro, NC
A Christmas Carol - a holiday tale, by Charles Dickens, adapted by Preston Lane

December 9 - 18 Theatre Charlotte, Charlotte, NC
A Christmas Carol - the classic tale, adapted by John Jakes from the novel by Charles Dickens

November 18 - December 23 Artisan Center Theater, Hurst, TX
Scrooge: The Musical - book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse

November 18 - December 18 Spokane Civic Theatre, Spokane, WA
A Christmas Carol - a holiday class, adapted by Barbara Field

Friday, 21 October 2011

When did the three ghosts visit Scrooge?

I grew up on movie versions of Scrooge long before I read the original A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. One element of the story that most film adaptations have in common is Jacob Marley's promise that the spirits would appear to Scrooge one after the other -- the first when the bell tolls one, the second when the bell tolls two, the third when the bell tolls three.

I was quite confused, therefore, when I read the Dickens novella closely, to discover that Marley's ghost said the visitations would occur over three nights (from Stave I):
"Without their visits," said the Ghost, "you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first tomorrow, when the bell tolls one." 
"Couldn't I take `em all at once, and have it over, Jacob?" hinted Scrooge. 
"Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third upon the next night when the last stroke of twelve has ceased to vibrate. Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us!"
This, of course, makes sense of the miser's later surprise when he wakes up on Christmas morning (from Stave V):
"What's to-day, my fine fellow?" said Scrooge. 
"To-day?" replied the boy. "Why, Christmas Day." 
"It's Christmas Day!" said Scrooge to himself. "I haven't missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow!"
The spirits did everything in one night. Interestingly, this bit of dialogue is almost always retained in the films, even though it makes little sense if Marley promised they'd all turn up on the same night anyway. (At least one movie version is faithful to Dickens on this point: Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009).)

I like this aspect of the story. It tells us that even mixed in with Scrooge's horrible experience was grace and mercy. He requested that the spirits come "all at once," and -- although, God knows, Scrooge didn't deserve such mercy -- his plea was heard.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Did a solicitor's office in Yorkshire inspire Dickens's A Christmas Carol?

This fascinating video shows the office in the town of Malton, North Yorkshire, believed to have inspired Charles Dickens in his description of Ebenezer Scrooge's office. (See also yesterday's post, where we locate Scrooge's counting house near Cornhill, in the City of London.)

In 1843, the building housed the offices of solicitor Charles Smithson. Dickens visited his friend that year and later told him he had the rooms in mind as he wrote A Christmas Carol. He also said the church of St Leonard's inspired his description of the church bells ringing on Christmas morning, in Stave V of his story.

Watch the video below, or click here to watch it on YouTube.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Where was Scrooge's office?

While Charles Dickens never tells us precisely where Ebenezer Scrooge's counting house was located, the clues in A Christmas Carol suggest it was in the City of London. The "City" refers to a particular area of London, the core of roughly one square mile (it is even called The Square Mile, colloquially) from which the capital historically grew. It was and continues to be the centre of finance and commerce in London.

We can guess this location partly because Scrooge is a trader, merchant or businessman of some sort, but also because Dickens mentions several parts of the City by name. St Paul's Cathedral, with its famous dome, is mentioned in Stave I, and on his way home to Camden Town, Bob Cratchit (we only know him as Scrooge's anonymous clerk at this stage) slides down Cornhill (a City street) on the ice. As Camden Town is several miles northwest of the City, Scrooge's offices would certainly be somewhere east or south of Cornhill.

Describing the immediate vicinity of the office (or warehouse), Dickens mentions a courtyard and "the ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell was always peeping slyly down at Scrooge out of a Gothic window in the wall." The church may well be St Michael's, Cornhill, on which basis the City of London's Dickens Walk identifies the exact site of Scrooge & Marley's as Newman's Court.

To see just how far Bob Cratchit would have run home from work (ran, and after 20 slides down Cornhill, no less), see this map of London from 1844. Cornhill is at roughly J5, where Camden Town is just to the right of the large green area (Regents Park) at E2, approximately.

Photo: John Salmon (licensed for reuse under Creative Commons)