author: ethan williams | staff writer
A Christmas Carol takes the stage
What would the holiday season be without sitting around the fireplace, drinking a mugful of hot chocolate, and watching classic Christmas movies? For many, the holiday season wouldn’t be quite the same. The same can be said about some who simply can’t miss Globe Theatre’s annual Christmas shows, and this year they are putting on a production that definitely shouldn’t be missed. The theatre is taking playgoers back in time with Charles Dickens’ ever-popular work, A Christmas Carol, and it is sure to dazzle audiences who attend.
But this isn’t the first time the company has put on Dickens’ classic Christmas tale. The Globe presented the story back in 2007, with the late Jerry Franken, a stage actor who worked all across Canada, playing the lead role of Ebenezer Scrooge. It also featured a young Tatiana Maslany as Belle, Scrooge’s fiancé, who went on to bigger things. Ever heard of a show called Orphan Black?
The Carillon had the chance to catch up with Ruth Smillie, Artistic Director and CEO of Globe Theatre. We inquired about why the Globe decided to do A Christmas Carol once again.
“At this moment in history, Charles Dickens’ parable of social redemption felt timely and important. Scrooge’s conversion from a cruel and greedy miser into a caring, generous, loving man seems particularly apropos in a time when inequality is so pronounced.”
In previous years, the theatre has done more contemporary shows that were less familiar to audiences, but seemed to gain a lot of positive response. When asked why the theatre decided to go back to a more traditional show, Smillie said it had to do with the diverse audience the theatre has.
“The main criteria for choosing Christmas shows is the play needs to appeal to a wide age range, from the very young to the very old and everyone in between.”
How exactly does the Globe go about putting together this show? There are a lot of elements to the production, including the cast. Smillie says they have been working many days to get the show ready to go.
“There are eleven actors in the cast. For most productions at the Globe there are twenty-two days of rehearsal before opening. The Christmas show has an additional week of rehearsal that is a combination of matinees and evening rehearsals.”
One of the more interesting elements of Globe Theatre productions is the use of unique set pieces to help tell the story, with most of them being made by staff within the carpentry department in the theatre. Smillie filled us in on what they are using for this show.
“The floor is made up of 4100 wooden squares that were cut, sanded, stained, and installed by our carpenters. There is a massive clock overhead, inspired by Big Ben, with four faces. The hands of the clock are programmed to move in sync with one another.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be Globe Theatre without the theatre in-the-round setting. Actors are faced with the challenge of performing the show to four different directions of audience members. Smillie says that this wasn’t nearly as much of a challenge as it could have been because this particular performance adapted by Michael Shamata, who is a writer and director from Toronto, was written for an audience in-the-round.
Also included this season is a special relaxed performance for audience members who may have sensitivities or special needs. This special type of performance first began with the Globe’s production of The Little Mermaid, which ran from May to July of this year. Smillie says there are many things the theatre does during these shows to accommodate people.
“We leave the house lights on to minimize the impact of significant lighting shifts, patrons with auditory sensitivities are invited to wear noise-cancelling headsets, and there is a quiet room where people can take time out if needed.”
She notes that audience members are able to move freely about the theatre if needed as well.
In addition to the excellent shows it puts on during the holiday season, the theatre also gives back to those in need. After each performance, the actors gather in costume in the lobby to collect monetary donations for the Regina and District Food Bank. Smillie says this is the eleventh year they have done this campaign, and in the past decade they have collected a total of nearly $500,000.
Tickets for Globe Theatre’s production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol can be purchased by calling the Globe Theatre box office at (306) 525-6400, or by going online to globetheatrelive.com. The show runs from November 18 to December 24, and the relaxed performance is on November 25 at 2 p.m.
So, summed up, just what can people expect from this Christmas classic? Smillie’s answer is simple.
“A wonderful story, beautifully told in an intimate theatre setting.”