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Theatre Calgary’s Play Guides and InterACTive Learning Program are made possible by the support of our sponsors: The Play Guide for A Christmas Caro...
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Theatre Calgary’s Play Guides and InterACTive Learning Program are made possible by the support of our sponsors:

The Play Guide for A Christmas Carol was created by: Shari Wattling Artistic Associate – New Play Development Zachary Moull Assistant Dramaturg With additional material by Dom Saliani

Want to get in touch?  Send an email to [email protected]  Connect with us on our Facebook page  Tweet us @theatrecalgary #tcCarol  Follow our Instagram @theatrecalgary

A Christmas Carol runs from November 26 to December 24, 2015 For tickets, visit theatrecalgary.com or call (403) 294-7447 Front cover photo by Trudie Lee

Table of Contents THE BASICS The Company ....................................................................01 Who’s Who? ...................................................................... 02 Setting and Story .............................................................. 03 EXPLORATIONS The Gift of a Little Christmas Book ...................................... 05 Twenty-Two Years of Scrooge An Interview with Actor Stephen Hair ....................... 08 Directing the Book An Interview with Adaptor and Director Dennis Garnhum ..................................................... 11 Dickens and the Theatre .................................................... 13 A World of Ice An Interview with Designer Patrick Clark ................... 15 Glossary ........................................................................... 17 CONVERSATIONS Conversation Starters ........................................................ 19 Carol Spirit ........................................................................ 21 ‘Tis the Season Reads from Calgary Public Library ............... 22 Movie Night: A Christmas Carol .......................................... 24 Sources ............................................................................ 25

THE BASICS

-1-

The Company Theatre Calgary presents

By Charles Dickens, adapted for the stage by Dennis Garnhum Stephen Hair Annabel Beames Emma Duke Adam Forward Braden Griffiths Paula Laroche Humby Greer Hunt Robert Graham Klein Jamie Konchak Fionn Laird Aidan Laudersmith Ryan Luhning Allison Lynch Declan O’Reilly Julie Orton Heather Pattengale Graham Percy Joe Perry Zasha Rabie Karl H. Sine Elizabeth Stepkowski-Tarhan Tenaj Williams Siena Yee

Scrooge Tiny Tim Fan Peter Fred Abigail Belinda Marley Mrs. Cratchit Boy Scrooge Young Scrooge Topper Spirit of Christmas Past Fezziwig Mrs. Dilber Belle Spirit of Christmas Present Spirit of Christmas Future Martha Bob Cratchit Mrs. Fezziwig Dick Wilkins Hope

Dennis Garnhum Simon Mallett Patrick Clark Kevin Lamotte Jeremy Spencer Angela Cavar Chris Jacko Shari Wattling Haysam Kadri Anita Miotti Andrea St. Cyr, Monique St. Cyr Jane MacFarlane

Director Associate Director Set & Costume Design Lighting Design Composer Music & Vocal Director Sound Design Production Dramaturg Fight Director Choreographer Skating Choreographers Vocal Coach

THE BASICS

-2-

Who’s Who? Scrooge and his Household Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly man Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge’s maid The Laundress Fred’s Family and Friends Fred, Scrooge’s nephew Abigail, Fred’s wife Topper, Fred’s friend, who owes money to Scrooge Other unnamed friends of Fred and Abigail People from Scrooge’s Past Fan, Scrooge’s sister The Schoolmaster Young Marley, Jacob Marley as a young man Belle, Scrooge’s sweetheart Mr. Fezziwig, a kind-hearted spirits merchant who employs Scrooge Mrs. Fezziwig, his wife Dick Wilkins, Scrooge’s fellow clerk at Fezziwig’s The Cratchits Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s clerk Mrs. Cratchit, his wife Their children: Peter, Martha, Belinda, and Tiny Tim Townspeople Carollers, solicitors, street vendors, businessmen, etc Ghosts and Spirits Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s late business partner Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future Ignorance and Want

THE BASICS

-3-

The Story A Christmas Carol takes place in London, England, on Christmas Eve. The

play

begins

with

a

memory – the funeral of Jacob Marley, where

his

partner

Ebenezer Scrooge is the only mourner. On Christmas Eve of 1843, seven years later, Scrooge is working in his office with his clerk

Bob

Cratchit.

Two

solicitors arrive asking for a donation to help the poor and

Frontispiece and title page of the first edition of A Christmas Carol, 1843

needy. Scrooge flatly refuses. He also declines an invitation to celebrate the season with his nephew Fred. He does reluctantly agree to let Cratchit spend Christmas Day with his family, as long as he comes early the next day. At home that evening, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley. The ghost informs Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits who will help him to avoid the terrible fate that Marley is suffering – wandering the earth bound by the “chains he forged in life.” The first spirit to appear, the Spirit of Christmas Past, takes Scrooge on a journey to see the places and people of his youth. Scrooge is reminded of the deep affection he felt for his sister Fan, the late mother of Fred. He visits his old employer Mr. Fezziwig and remembers the joy and happiness that the Fezziwigs spread at Christmas time. He also sees his former sweetheart, Belle, who broke up with him because of his singleminded pursuit of wealth.

THE BASICS

-4Next, the Spirit of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to see the celebrations happening all around him. They first visit the Cratchit home, where Scrooge learns that his clerk has a very sick son, Tiny Tim. Then Scrooge sees Fred, his wife Abigail, and their friends skating on a frozen river. As they play a guessing game, Scrooge learns what they really think of him. The Spirit of Christmas Future completes Scrooge’s education, showing him three businessmen callously discussing the recent death of an unnamed associate. Then, Scrooge sees his servants selling the belongings of someone who has recently died. Finally, Scrooge is transported to a graveyard, where he watches the Cratchit family mourning the death of Tiny Tim. The Spirit points to another tombstone. Scrooge approaches and discovers the grave bears his own name. Scrooge begs for the Spirit’s pity, and promises to keep the spirit of Christmas in his heart all the year. Scrooge

wakes

up

in

his

bedroom on Christmas Day. Full of joy, he has a turkey delivered to the Cratchits for their dinner, and when he sees the family in the town square, he gives Cratchit a raise and tells him to take the next day off as well. Then he meets the two

solicitors

who

had

appeared in his office the previous day and apologizes for his behaviour by making a sizable donation to their cause. And lastly, finds his Fred skating

on

the

river

"The Last of the Spirits" by John Leech, from the first edition of A Christmas Carol

and

happily accepts his nephew’s earlier invitation to Christmas dinner.

EXPLORATIONS

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The Gift of a Little Christmas Book Charles Dickens was one of the first literary stars to stake out a role as a public intellectual, seeking to shape Britain’s national conversation on social issues through his writings and speeches. “I have a great faith in the poor,”

he

once

wrote.

“I

always endeavour to present them in a favourable light to the rich.” Born in 1812, Dickens grew up in poverty himself. As a child, he worked long hours in a London boot-blacking factory starting at the age of twelve, when his father was sent to debtor’s prison. He rose to prominence as an author in the late 1830s, with some of his early

novels

Britain’s

looking

treatment

of

at its

struggling underclass. Oliver Twist

(1838),

for

example,

Charles Dickens

condemns the brutality of the Poor Law and its workhouses, where the destitute were forced into prison-like conditions, and paints a sympathetic picture of the poor and their children. The autumn of 1843 was not a time of great cheer for Dickens. Already demoralized by a visit to one of London’s poorest schools, he travelled to Manchester in October to speak at a fundraiser for the Athenaeum, an institution that provided education and recreation for the city’s enormous working class. The Athenaeum was in financial trouble after the economic recession of 1840–42, which had hit Manchester, a sprawling young city driven by the new factories of the Industrial Revolution, particularly hard.

EXPLORATIONS

-6-

In the early 1840s, more than half of the children born in Manchester died before the age of five, and thousands of unemployed workers relied on the charity of soup kitchens every day. There was little room for Christmas in the industrial city, where factories ran round-the-clock on Christmas Day. But while walking the streets after his rousing speech, buoyed perhaps by the “bright eyes and beaming faces” of the working poor who had applauded his words, Dickens hit upon the idea for A Christmas Carol. On his return to London, Dickens threw himself headlong into the new project. He was so eager to finish the book in time for Christmas that he postponed meetings for several weeks, sending his regrets to his lawyer, for example, by explaining that he was “in the middle of a roaring

Christmas

Working

from

scene.”

morning

to

evening, Dickens kept up his habit of walking the streets at night for inspiration. In a letter to a friend in Boston, he wrote that while he “walked about the black streets of London, fifteen and twenty miles many a night when all the sober folks had gone to bed,” he had “wept and laughed and wept again, and excited himself in a most extraordinary manner in the composition” of what he affectionately called “my little Christmas book.”

The festive red and gold cover of the 1843 first edition of A Christmas Carol

When his publisher expressed doubts about the book, Dickens put his own finances on the line by proceeding with A Christmas Carol on a commission basis. Fortunately,

EXPLORATIONS

-7-

this allowed him to control the book’s design. He commissioned the artist John Leech to make illustrations and woodcuts, chose a festive red and gold cover, and set the price at a relatively affordable five shillings (a novel would sell for around 30 shillings at the time). Dickens’ hard work meant that A Christmas Carol was ready just in time for Christmas. Six thousand copies were published on December 19, 1843 – and every single one had been sold by Christmas Day. Newspaper reviews praised the book’s Yuletide message of generosity and goodwill, as well as the power and economy of the tale. “Who can listen to objections regarding such a book as this?” wrote William Makepeace Thackeray, a fellow novelist and one of Dickens’ foremost rivals. “It seems to me a national benefit, and to every man and woman who reads it, a personal kindness.” Indeed, the nation’s response to the book was almost universally warm, with Dickens receiving scores of letters from readers who wanted to thank him for brightening their holiday season. One letter, from a prominent Scottish judge, told Dickens that he had “fostered more kindly feelings and prompted more positive acts of beneficence” with his one small book than had all the sermons and publications of the previous year’s Christmas, combined. As for Dickens himself, he was so cheered that, at a Christmas party soon after Carol’s publication, he spent a full hour performing magic tricks for children – he reportedly made plum pudding appear from a top hat – and then danced late into the night.

“If Christmas, with its ancient and hospitable customs, its social and charitable observances, were ever in danger of decay, this is the book that would give them a new lease.” – Thomas Hood

EXPLORATIONS

-8-

Twenty-Two Years of Scrooge An Interview with Actor Stephen Hair Calgary actor Stephen Hair has performed in Theatre Calgary’s holiday production

of

A

Christmas

Carol since before the Arts Commons building was even built, and he’s been in all but two productions out of 29 total. In 2015, he marks his astonishing 22nd consecutive year as Ebenezer Scrooge. The interview below is from 2011. How

do

you

feel

about

playing the same role for so many years? Is there anything specific that you do to keep the role fresh for yourself and your audiences? I don’t think of it as the same

Stephen Hair as Ebenezer Scrooge in 2011 (photo by Trudie Lee)

role. I know that the name is the same, but things happen that are different. Not only are there different actors, there are also different versions of the play and different sets. I was 44 or 43 when I started playing Scrooge and now I’m over 60. A lot has happened to me over those years and so Scrooge changes as I change. As I learn more about life and a little more about me, I try to put that kind of emotion or feeling into Scrooge. And that’s what keeps it fresh. I don’t want to do the same thing. I don’t want to do what I did last year or the year before. You start from there in rehearsal. It’s like putting on a pair of cozy slippers – that’s where you start, but there has to be something more. You’ll never find the true core of a human being.

EXPLORATIONS

-9-

Can you expand upon how you see the character of Scrooge and what you want the audiences to understand from him as a character? Over the years, I find more and more that I want him to be a real human being, not the stereotyped, miserly Scrooge that we are all so familiar with. He is a human being who has gone through, as everybody does, a lot of disappointments, a lot of changes. He’s come to a lot of forks in the road and he has made some very wrong choices. He doesn’t see himself as a bad person. He may be stingy with his money, a bit mean and a bit cranky, but that comes from the life that he has led. So, what I want people to see is that he is a real person who made bad life choices and those lead him to where he is at the beginning of the play. But he can change. That is the nature of the story and I think that’s why people keep coming and seeing it – because it’s for all of us. It tells us that we can all make bad choices, but you can actually change and go to the light. What important messages do you think audiences get from the play? I think a lot of it has to do with the time of year. There’s something about Christmas that brings families together from wherever they are all over the country. Everyone gets together and there’s just something about it, some kind of a memory that we all have. It’s a time for reconciliation; it’s a time for sharing with each other and having good times. They see that on stage with Scrooge’s family. I think that everyone is actually pulling for Scrooge. We know that he’s going to turn into a good guy in the end but it’s all about watching the journey. And I’ve had people come to me in tears saying that their lives have been just like Scrooge’s and they see what can happen if they change their lives. The most important message people get is: “I can change my life if I’ve been a bad person. If I‘ve made bad choices, I can change it.” I think that’s important. That’s what they tell me they get out of it. Can you describe a typical Christmas Day in your home? If you come to my house at Christmas, you won’t see any decorations and you won’t see any Christmas-ey stuff. We start rehearsing A Christmas

EXPLORATIONS

- 10 -

Carol a month before the audience sees it, and by the time we get to Christmas Day, to be honest, I’m just plain “Christmased out.” There’s a lot of emotion that goes into this show and so on Christmas Day, I am usually at home, usually by myself. If it’s nice out, I’ll sit out on my deck, put my heater on, and maybe have a couple of drinks, but usually that’s about all I do. And usually we’ve just come off seven shows in a row, so I’m pretty exhausted. So to me, it’s a day off to just sit and relax. After Christmas, I go down east to Ontario and visit my mom for a few days and I have Christmas with her, but it’s the week after. She has a little tree and all that stuff, but in my house there’s no Christmas for me and it helps me to stay more Scroogey. What is your Christmas wish for Theatre Calgary audiences? Well, I wish them all the very, very best of the season. I wish them all the love and all the joy that the season can possibly bring. I hope that the time they spend with their families this Christmas, and that the joy that they feel can be carried past the holiday and kept for as long as possible throughout the year. Next year, if the Christmas feeling is a bit flagging, come back and see A Christmas Carol and we’ll get the emotions roaring for you again. I wish a happy time for all.

“We have come to take Scrooge so much for granted that he seems practically a piece of Christmas folklore.” – Edmund Wilson

EXPLORATIONS

- 11 -

Directing the Book An Interview with Adaptor and Director Dennis Garnhum Why did you decide to write your own adaptation of A Christmas Carol? I thought long and hard about this production of A Christmas Carol – who should adapt it and who should direct it. It dawned on me,

after

searching,

a

bit

that

of given

soulmy

history with it, I have a lot of knowledge that I could bring forward. The

way

I

think

about

adapting – because I’m a director – is that I am directing the book. That’s how I phrase it. So I go back to the source – which is not me, it’s Charles Dickens – and I ask myself, “how would I direct that scene?” I always find that there is great joy in adapting.

Dennis Garnhum

You can find a nugget of an idea that’s in there and you think, “OK, we’re going to run with that.” This production is my imagination running with ideas that Charles Dickens inspired. How is this version of A Christmas Carol different from previous Theatre Calgary productions? This Carol is different in many, many ways. It’s larger, if that’s possible! Physically, it’s a big, BIG production. The adaptation is more truthful to Dickens’ original story than before. There’s also singing – we sing around twenty Christmas carols – and I’ve set the entire production in what I call

EXPLORATIONS

- 12 -

a “winter wonderland.” The whole set projects the idea that Scrooge is in a frozen world – his bed has icicles falling off it and everything is covered in snow. So it’s much more like a fantasy, similar to a ballet, or a children’s story. Compared to previous productions, it is visually much more colourful. The previous production, which was very important to me, was more about poverty and bleakness. This one is much more about children and joy. Given that I am a father now, I see things through those eyes. Now that you are a father, do you look forward to Christmas more than you did before? Absolutely! Every Christmas with a child is extraordinary. I mean, a child gives you that gift for Christmas. I can’t wait. I really can’t wait.

Dennis Garnhum and the cast rehearsing on stage (photo by Shari Wattling)

EXPLORATIONS

- 13 -

Dickens and the Theatre As a boy, Dickens’ first love was the theatre. Like many children, he enjoyed play acting and together with his friends formed a small dramatic company. The story is told that sometime in the 1830s he was to audition at Covent Garden Theatre, but that he was prevented from doing so because of an illness. Had he attended that audition, who knows

what

might

have

happened with his life and career? Dickens wrote about acting in his novels; in Nicholas Nickleby, for example, he lovingly tells the tale of the Crummles’ travelling theatre troupe. And

"Dickens' Dream" by painter Robert William Buss (1875)

while travelling across North America in 1842, Dickens directed and performed in an amateur theatre production while staying in Montreal. A Christmas Carol was adapted for the stage almost immediately after publication. Three productions opened in February, 1844, with one by Edward Stirling sanctioned by Dickens. By the end of the month, eight rival theatrical productions of A Christmas Carol were playing in London. Stirling's production also played New York City's Park Theater during the Christmas season of 1844 and was revived in London the same year. Since then, A Christmas Carol has been seen in hundreds of stage productions around the world – including seven different adaptations appearing at Theatre Calgary over 29 years.

EXPLORATIONS

- 14 -

A World of Ice An Interview with Designer Patrick Clark Award-winning set and costume designer Patrick Clark hails from New Brunswick. He has been involved with theatre and teaching his craft in schools for the past thirty years. His designs have graced the stages of the Stratford Festival, the Shaw Festival, and countless other venues across Canada. At Theatre Calgary, he has most recently designed the set and costumes for Pride and Prejudice and Anne of Green Gables. We talked

Patrick Clark

with Patrick just days after he arrived in Calgary in 2011 to complete his work with the sets and costumes for A Christmas Carol. Can you tell us a bit about your designs for this production and what we can expect? The thing about this story is that there are many locations to represent, but it all starts with what I call a basic set, or world that we created. When Dennis Garnhum and I first talked about the play, he shared that he had an image of this one scene where the actors are able to skate and I said that is not just about snow – that’s ice. So out of that idea, and after much discussion about ice and cold and Scrooge’s heart being thawed, we came up with the basic imagery for the production. We created an ice world. It is very abstract in that kind of sense. And within Scrooge’s world, everything has been touched by the cold like the beds, the tables, the chairs. The ice on the floor grows upwards into things. From there, another idea or image I had is when the Spirit of Christmas Past takes Scrooge on his first journey. I said, “Let’s really fly them.” So

EXPLORATIONS

- 15 -

we designed a little window and the window flies. As the window flies up, the little village that Scrooge remembers from his childhood will move across the stage, all lit up as it goes by. His school and the other buildings are not life-size but rather smaller replicas of real buildings. So it will be like seeing this tiny town from high up above. There’s also the Spirit of Christmas Present who arrives in what I call a “steampunk jalopy.” As for costumes, we are up to about 80 so far. Since this is a new production and a completely new look, we pretty much had to start from scratch. This is because of the colour spectrum – the stage is quite bright and blue and icy and the costumes have to match that kind of striking color. The effect will be almost like going to see the ballet – it’s that kind of brightness. What aspect of this project did you find the most fun to work on? One of the best aspects of this production is working with Dennis because he is very open to anything and he will push it further. He’s been great. It can be a challenge with A Christmas Carol as everyone already knows what the story is. However, because of Dennis’ new take and ideas, he has allowed me to look at it with a fresh eye and yet respect the story. The set is very modern in a way, and yet, within it, the old story is still there and the people are dressed in a period way. It’s still Victorian and it still has traditional elements that you will recognize. But it is the twenty-first century, and we kind of changed it a little bit to give it a fresh life. Where did you get the inspiration for your designs? Did you go back to the source – Dickens? Oh yes, you have to read the story again. As always, whenever you reread a story, you find something new and you suddenly hear a line and you say “I never thought of that.” And I also went back to the original John Leech engravings – the illustrations in the original book. It’s fascinating to see that even in the first engravings – for example in his drawings of Fezziwig – they are not

EXPLORATIONS

- 16 -

really “period” in any kind of way. Everything has a general “ye old good old days” look because he wasn’t slavishly trying to be exact to the clothing of the day. It’s nice because you can look at that and say, “If he can do that, I can do that.” I can have a silhouette that’s fun but give it some colour, give it some punch. I also wanted a kind of a modern take on the overall look and we’ve tried to make this production quite kidfriendly. There’s lots of pyro. There are bright colours. It would be safe to say that with this production, we’ve gone from a darker version of the story to a brighter version. They’re both equally valid. They’re just different interpretations. How do you hope the sets and costumes will affect the audience? Well first of all, I hope that they’re entertained. No matter what, that’s always the prime consideration. We want them to feel the kind of sentimentality and the humour that’s in Dickens. Also there is the darkness that’s always in Dickens as well. He wrote dark stories. However, they do have a happy ending 90 percent of the time, which is why we love his work. When the audience sees the sets, they’ll see that they’re not what one would expect, but still within the realm of the story. For instance, they’ll see these little villages and they’re perfect little reproductions of the nineteenth century and yet they are within this blue void that’s almost like the stars at times. I think the lighting is also very different in this show – more theatrical, less literal. I hope audiences will come out of the theatre saying, “Wow! That wasn’t like any A Christmas Carol I have ever seen.”

“Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.” – Washington Irving

EXPLORATIONS

- 17 -

Glossary The following information provides background, definitions, or explanations of specific period references in the order in which they are mentioned in the play. Christmas Carols Carols are traditionally associated with Christmas. By definition, however, a carol is a song of joy and praise, often with a religious theme or lesson. The Christmas tradition of caroling, or going door to door and singing for the occupants, was established during the Middle Ages. Many of the carols that are popular today were written in the 1800s. Wassail The first carol sung by the play’s carollers includes the line: “Here we come a-wassailing.” Wassail is a drink consisting of ale or wine sweetened with sugar and spices. The word derives from the Norse ves heill, which means “be of good health.” Wassailing comes from the old English tradition of visiting houses with a wassail bowl and singing songs that wished good fortune upon the household. Money words “Bob” is slang for a shilling. In the British currency system at the time, there are 12 pence to a shilling, and 20 shillings to a pound. A pound can also be called a “quid.” Bob Cratchit earns 15 shillings a week. This is considerably less than the average salary for a clerk at the time, which was around 25 shillings a week. Bedlam At the beginning of the play, Scrooge states that Bob Cratchit should be sent to “Bedlam.” In London at the time, there was an insane asylum at the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem. “Bedlam” was a commonly used contraction for Bethlehem and this hospital. As a result, the word “bedlam” has entered our vocabulary and refers to a state of utter confusion and chaos.

EXPLORATIONS

- 18 -

Workhouses and the Poor Law Scrooge suggests to the Solicitors that a solution for the misery of poor people is to send them to prison or the workhouses. During Dickens’ time, the British Poor Law forced poor people to enter a workhouse, where they would be provided with food and shelter as payment for menial work. To discourage people from taking advantage of the workhouses, the authorities ensured conditions were terribly unpleasant. Robinson Crusoe When Scrooge is shown his past as a young boy, he recalls reading about Robinson Crusoe. Robinson Crusoe was the title character of a 1719 novel by Daniel Defoe, chronicling the adventures of a castaway marooned on an island for 28 years. In one section of the book, Crusoe and his companion Friday fight with cannibals. Ignorance and Want Just before the Spirit of Christmas Present departs, he shows Scrooge two miserable children and calls them Ignorance and Want. This scene

emphasizes

Dickens’

deep concern for the plight of the hundreds of thousands of English

children

living

in

poverty. Dickens believed that the only way to break the cycle of poverty was education. The Spirit warns Scrooge that "This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is

"Ignorance and Want" by John Leech, from the first edition of A Christmas Carol

Doom, unless the writing be erased." Very little schooling was available for poor children in Dickens’ day, and there was no public education system in England until 1870 – almost thirty years after A Christmas Carol.

CONVERSATIONS

- 19 -

Conversation Starters Big Questions 

Can bad people change for the better?



What is happiness and how do we measure success?



What causes people to isolate themselves from family and friends?



What is the Christmas spirit? Theme



What does the word “carol” mean? Why do you think Charles Dickens called his work A Christmas Carol?



Dickens was very concerned about social justice, and he wrote A Christmas Carol in part to protest his society’s treatment of the poor. Based on A Christmas Carol, what do you think were Dickens’ main concerns? Do we face similar problems in our own society today? What solutions does the play suggest? Story



At its core, A Christmas Carol is a story about a bad man who sees the error of his ways and becomes a good man. What are some other stories that follow this basic plot? Why is this storyline so common?



The first two scenes of A Christmas Carol contain a great deal of exposition – background information provided through flashbacks and dialogue. What important pieces of information are revealed in these early scenes? How do they help us to better understand what happens later in the play?



The ending of A Christmas Carol makes a serious statement. To what extent is the ending realistic? In other words, do people in real life change as dramatically as Scrooge does in the play? If so, what are some examples?

CONVERSATIONS

- 20 -

Character 

According to Shakespeare, “Action is eloquence.” This suggests that actions – what a person does – often speak louder than words. Were there moments in A Christmas Carol where what a character did on stage revealed more about them than what he or she said?



Writers often use contrast to reveal more about their characters. Which characters in A Christmas Carol serve as foils or contrasts for Scrooge? What do these contrasts reveal about the man himself? Design and Staging



This play is a challenge for the set designer, since the scenes are set in several different locations. How did the set design contribute to the flow of the play from scene to scene?



Which design choices (set, costumes, props, lighting) helped you understand the specific setting or location of a scene? Which choices created a particular mood or atmosphere for the scene?



What strategies did the production use to put the ghosts and spirits of A Christmas Carol on stage? Which of the apparitions do you think was most effectively presented? Why?

“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.” – Charles Schultz

CONVERSATIONS

- 21 -

Carol Spirit After his visits from the Spirits of Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge pledges to “honour Christmas in his heart and try to keep it all the year.” This is no small task! We asked the artists of A Christmas Carol and Theatre Calgary staff members to share how they try to keep Christmas year-round: Stephen Hair (Ebenezer Scrooge) I try to remember the remarkable joy of performing before our audiences, and the happiness felt by so many in the theatre. Allison Lynch (Spirit of Christmas Past) I sing everywhere. Walking down the street, in public washrooms, in the grocery store. Music makes people smile in spite of themselves. Ron Siegmund (Wardrobe Master and Hair & Wig Stylist) I smile. When I’m having a bad day, I smile and eventually I can forget about it. And when you smile at someone, they smile too. It's a drop that makes ripples out into the world. Shari Wattling (Artistic Associate) I sincerely believe that by offering a helping hand, a gesture of courtesy, or even just a smile on a daily basis, that I can make a difference in someone’s day. And hopefully, they will make a difference in someone else’s in turn. Susan McNair Reid (Company Manager) I say yes to charity donations when I’m buying something in a store: the food bank campaign at Sobeys, the book fund for kids at Indigo, the school supply drive at Staples. None of these things costs me more than a fancy coffee, but as we learn from Mr. Fezziwig, even a little bit can make a big difference to someone.

How do you honour the spirit of Christmas all the year? Tweet us @theatrecalgary with #tcCarol to let us know. We’ll be sure to pass your advice along to Mr. Scrooge!

CONVERSATIONS

- 22 -

‘Tis the Season Reads from Calgary Public Library By Rosemary Griebel

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss Fiction, 1985. There is more than one curmudgeon in the stable of Christmas classics, and just as no Christmas season would be complete without the miserly Scrooge, every heartwarming festivity requires at least one encounter of the bookish kind with the ultimate seasonal sourpuss, the mean, green Grinch.

Mrs. Scrooge: A Christmas Poem, by Carol Ann Duffy, illustrated by Posy Simmonds Poetry, 2009. Britain's first female poet laureate presents a beautifully illustrated tale featuring a witty update of A Christmas Carol, which casts Scrooge’s parsimonious widow as an environmental activist. With her cat, Catchit, she discovers what the “Christmas Spirit” really means.

Christmas: A Candid History, by Bruce David Forbes Non-fiction, 2007. Written for everyone who loves and is simultaneously driven crazy by the holiday season, Christmas: A Candid History provides an entertaining perspective on how the annual Yuletide celebration evolved. This enlightening historical tour explores the story of Christmas from its pre-Christian roots to its mind-boggling transformation into a buying frenzy, and offers some provocative ideas for reclaiming the joy of the season. Click on the book covers to check availability at Calgary Public Library!

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Happiness: A Philosopher’s Guide, by Frédéric Lenoir, translated by Andrew Brown Non-fiction, 2015. From Aristotle to Buddha to the essays of Michel de Montaigne and modern neuroscience, this book explores how happiness can be attainable even in the most cynical and mean- spirited lives. A brief but well-considered guide to a wide range of the many schools of thought regarding contentment, joy, and happiness.

Don't Get Scrooged, by Richard Carlson Non-fiction, 2006. Don't Get Scrooged is the perfect handbook on how to avoid, appease, and even win over the Scrooges who haunt your holidays. Whether it's the salesclerk who ignores you in favour of her cell phone, the customer who jumps ahead of you in line at Starbucks, the unnaturally irritable boss, or the in-laws who invite themselves (every year) for a two-week stay at your house, here are the skills to deal with Scrooges, grumps, uninvited guests, sticks-in-the-mud, and supreme party poopers.

You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas, by Augusten Burroughs Memoir, 2009. Once the kids are in bed, put a shot of Baileys in that hot chocolate and curl up with this funny, nostalgic collection of holiday stories that demonstrate how the holidays bring out the worst in us and sometimes, just sometimes, the very, very best.

Inventing Scrooge: The Incredible True Story behind Charles Dickens’ Legendary A Christmas Carol, by Carlo DeVito Non-fiction, 2014. From a graveyard in Edinburgh to Dickens’ schoolboy years in Chatham, this engaging history reveals the real-life inspirations that contributed to the creation of one of the world’s most beloved tales.

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Movie Night: A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has sparked hundreds of adaptations in every medium imaginable. Here are some notable film versions:

A Christmas Carol Feature film, 1938. Hollywood’s first talkie version of the story stars Reginald Owen as Scrooge.

A Christmas Carol Feature film, 1951. The classic British version (known as Scrooge in the U.K.) stars Alistair Sims as Scrooge.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol Animated short, 1983. Scrooge McDuck plays his namesake, with Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit.

Scrooged Feature film, 1988. In this loose adaptation, Bill Murray plays a Scroogelike TV executive. While he produces a special broadcast of A Christmas Carol, events from Dickens’ story start to occur in his own life.

Blackadder’s Christmas Carol TV special, 1988. This special episode of the British comedy series parodies Dickens by reversing the story of A Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson), the nicest man in Victorian London, becomes vengeful and greedy after a visit from a Christmas Spirit.

The Muppet Christmas Carol Feature film, 1992. This surprisingly faithful adaptation features a mix of human actors and Muppets. Michael Caine stars as Scrooge opposite Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit. .

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Sources Print Sources Michael Patrick Hearn, ed, The Annotated Christmas Carol, W. W. Norton, 1976. Les Standiford, The Man Who Invented Christmas, Crown, 2008. Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens: A Life, Viking, 2011.

Web Sources Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, Project Gutenberg. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/46/46-h/46-h.htm “The Workhouse.” http://www.workhouses.org.uk/

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