In this faithful adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, a traveling troupe of commedia dell'Arte players re-create the Victorian world of “A Christmas Carol” on a bare stage. All of the many wonderful characters are portrayed by these 8 players with cleverness, skill, and comedy. Dickens, an actor, playwright, and enthusiastic theatergoer himself, used many theatrical characters in his novels, especially characters from the commedia dell'Arte tradition. The most notable of these is Ebenezer Scrooge, who is played in this adaptation by commedia's cranky but beloved Pantalone. Just as they would have done in Dickens' own time the players bring their homemade costumes and props onstage with them. Sometimes frenzied, but always fun, this dynamic adaptation puts a fresh spin on one of our most beloved holiday stories.
PLAYWRIGHT LANE RIOSLEY TALKS ABOUT
“THE COMMEDIA CHRISTMAS CAROL”
Q: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS PLAY?
A: If you are familiar with commedia dell'Arte, then “A Christmas Carol” is an obvious choice for adaptation. Charles Dickens was a successful professional actor and he also wrote plays so his work is easily adapted to the stage. As a writer he was heavily influenced by the popular English pantomime plays (pantos) that are direct descendants of commedia dell'Arte, so it was easy to find the commedia characters and plot lines in “A Christmas Carol.”
Q: WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PART OR LINE IN THE PLAY? WHY?
A: I love the scene where Scrooge's shirt and bed drapes are being sold. It's a wonderful opportunity for actors to have fun. I wish someone would cast me just in that scene. I would love to play it myself.
Q: TELL US SOME MORE ABOUT THE CHARACTERS.
A: The commedia dell'Arte characters are over 2,000 years old but they still remind me of people I know today. Call him Senex Iratus, Pantalone, or W.C Fields, he is the same character. I believe that commedia del arte has always been with us and will be with us forever.
Q: WHAT DID YOU TRY TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS ADAPTATION?
A: I wanted to stage Dickens' great work in a style that is dynamic, for the speed at which his plot progresses, and actor-based, so the production can focus primarily on his unforgettable characters. In the tradition of the commedia dell'Arte, it's also a script written for theatres that wish to tour.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO ADD?
A: When I set out to write this play I decided to see if I could lift Dickens' dialog out of “A Christmas Carol” without changing his words. His dialog plays well right off of the page, so I only had to change a very small part of his words for modern audiences. I'm pleased that Columbine and her troupe of players will present a very faithful version of the original story.