Hedgerow Theatre continues its holiday tradition with its 23rd annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
The adaptation by Artistic Director Jared Reed is faithful to Dickens’ classic tale of the redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserable, selfish miser whose heart is transformed after he is visited by a series of spirits on Christmas Eve. The story was first published in 1843, so Hedgerow’s 1840s’ built grist-mill theatre provides the perfect period-appropriate setting for the play, which features a large multi-generational cast and carols.
Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812 in Hampshire, England. Moving to London before the age of five, Charles was forced to leave school at a young age in order to work for a Blacking company, helping to earn money for the family’s room and board by pasting labels on pots of boot blacking.
Dickens himself experience some of the inequities depicted in his tale. At the age of 12, he was sent to work in a factory after his father was sent to debtors’ prison. As an adult, he became involved in charities and social issues.
The conditions of his work environment are cited as a source of inspiration for the themes in his novels regarding socioeconomic change and labor conditions. It was only upon inheriting money from a grandparent that he was able to leave the warehouse and attend an academy.
In the summer of 1843, with his works not selling and his life hitting rock bottom, Charles Dickens paid a visit to his sister Fan, and at a town meeting the notion hit him of the profound nature of education to free the poor. The idea of hope and redemption fed his mind, and soon he put away all appointments and passionately grew “A Christmas Carol”, transforming how the holiday is celebrated to this day.
According to Malcolm Andrews, editor of the Dickensian, journal of the Dickens Fellowship, Dickens originally thought of issuing a pamphlet, but chose to write “a holiday fable to highlight the callous indifference of the rich towards what should be their social responsibilities–the idea that we are all one family and should care for others.”
From these humble beginnings, Dickens grew into one of the most reputable English writers of all time, penning famous novels such as “The Adventures of Oliver Twist”, “David Copperfield”, “Great Expectations”, and “A Tale of Two Cities”. Most of the novels penned by Dickens were published on either a weekly or monthly basis in literary journals, allowing each segment to have easy access to cliffhanger endings, as well as being more affordable and accessible to his audience.