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Acting Naturally

Richard's Writings > Acting Naturally > Scrooge's Christmas Carol - My First Play

Synopsis of Scrooge's Christmas Carol

First came the desire to be up there with them, on the stage, a member of a cast of talented actors. Then came the first audition. I was very lucky that day, and was cast as Ebenezer Scrooge. In the months that followed, I learned about everything it took to put on a play for the first time: memorizing lines, learning to work with a large group of people, following directions, and so on. It was so much more work than I had expected - but so much fun, too. And a fulfilling satisfaction that surprised me. Did I suffer from stage fright? Did I make friends? Did I ever want to do this again? Read on...

Excerpt from Scrooge's Christmas Carol

Here in my first play I experienced the most aggressive staging I was to know in my first twenty shows. Actor's Theater is a black box theater, measuring 25 feet wide by 25 feet long, and painted black on the floor, ceiling and three walls. The "fourth wall," of course, faced the audience. There wasn't a curtain to separate the stage from the audience, so every scene-change was in full view of the audience, and transitions were achieved through carefully directed lights. The director divided the stage into three sections, and in the course of the play I would escort my "spirit of the hour" from one side of the stage to the other. While we crossed the stage the lights would go up before us and go down behind us, and in the blackout the stage crew would furiously change the furniture and set that portion of the stage for the next scene.

I especially remember the scene where I first encounter the figure draped in black, Christmas Future. I had to stop and fall to my knees exactly on a mark that was on the edge of the stage opposite the central audience stairs (where Christmas Future stood, pointing his skeletal hand at me), and I had to make sure my horror-struck face was illuminated from above by a pencil thin beam of amber light. Every scene was carefully staged to illuminate just one third of the stage and the actors were coached to "find your light." It was very exact work. In the end, the transitions were seamless and the story flowed from one event to the next, growing a tension within the audience as Scrooge was led down the path to his ultimate redemption. You can imagine the audience's relief when Christmas Day dawns bright and cheerful, with gay music and Scrooge beside himself with joy and full of the spirit of Christmas!

Naturally, special friendships started to form. I shared many scenes with the ghosts (Marley, Christmas Past, Christmas Present) so I spent much time with Alison (Christmas Past) and R.B. (Marley and Christmas Present). R.B. would often drive me crazy with his intense personality, though I liked him. Alison turned out to be a love; if I had a daughter I could wish for none better. She was twelve, sweet, beautiful, with golden hair down to her waist, but the most astonishing thing about her was her presence among adults - she was years beyond her age in maturity. She was a bona fide prodigy...

I felt the weight of responsibility for carrying the show, since my character is the glue that binds the scenes together - it was a burden I shouldered gladly and thankfully, but I was aware of the weight nonetheless...

When the performances were over I learned the hardest lesson of the theatre. It was over. Forever. I had not anticipated that with the final curtain on the closing performance, these people would go on with their lives, and I would never, never, see many of them again. We had become a family, heart connections had been made! My evenings for several months had been filled with fun and fulfilling work. And then it was done. The vacuum left me breathless.


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