The Memorial Players will present Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol on December 1, 2, 8, and 9 at 7:30 p.m., with matinee performances December 3 and 10 at 3:30 pm. Pre-show receptions, which bring the patron "sponsor" seating, will be held on Fridays and Saturdays, and Sunday, December 3. To get more information or to book a ticket go to www.memorialplayers.org.
Legend has it that Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol at a time when the British were examining and exploring Christmas traditions from the past, such as carols, as well as new customs such as Christmas trees. He was inspired to write the story following a visit to the Field Lance Ragged School, one of London’s establishments for half-starved, illiterate street children. The treatment of the poor and the ability of a self-interested man redeeming himself by transforming into a more sympathetic character are key themes of the story.
Interestingly, back in the 1800s, there was discussion among academics whether A Christmas Carol was a fully secular story or a Christian allegory. As Rina Steinhauer, one of the directors , points out, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three spirits, not three angels. Rina says, “It’s more of an Advent story than a Christmas story. It’s more about preparing for something new as we watch Mr. Scrooge go through his own reckoning.” She also points out that the story is “not unique to Christians, but to the impulse of all humans.”
Rina emphasized the theme of transformation throughout, especially calling out the timing of when the play takes place (Christmas Eve/Christmas Day) to the timing of the winter solstice. The play, she says, brings on “themes of renewal. When light triumphs over darkness, or the dawning of a new day.”
I’m especially keen to watch Richard Peck’s performance as Ebenezer Scrooge. I do not know him personally but hear he is a very kind and gentle man. In this production of A Christmas Carol, he will be portrayed as “more violent and uglier” than we’ve seen in other productions. This portrayal will underscore the degree of Scrooge’s personal transformation, and will show us all that it is never too late to change.
If you are unfamiliar with the Memorial Players, its productions are performed by people that may have had an acting bug or are looking for a welcoming and safe place to do theatre. This production will include approximately 30 actors, and the Victorian costumes are said to be a “major deal.”