Dickensing Around

By December 13, 2013Editorial
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Holiday Themed Thoughts on Books and Adaptations

I can recall having seen at least nine of the countless film and TV adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (top 3 favourites: the Muppets’ version, Scrooged with Bill Murray and the 1951 movie with Alastair Sim). Four years ago I saw the fantastic and truly spooky adaptation that Spectral Theatre put up at the Jericho Arts Centre, definitely the most memorable of the three stage productions I’ve been to see over the years.

It goes without saying that I’m very very familiar with the Xmas Carol story, as I’m sure many many people are. I can recognize small details that appear in some adaptations but not in others, I know the characters extremely well and can recite lines and descriptions of individuals as I’m sure they read verbatim in Dickens’ original text. But I’ve never read Dickens’ original A Christmas Carol. Until just now I guess.

It’s funny but not peculiar to be so familiar with a work of literature without actually having read it. Another prime example (and, as far as release dates, still in the holiday category) is the Lord of the Rings phenomenon. Though it isn’t inevitably remade twice every December à la Dickens’ Xmas Carol, thanks to Peter Jackson people are able to fully immerse themselves in the culture of LOTR and The Hobbit without having yet read a lick of Tolkien.

And I think this is cool. Some Lit enthusiasts might reproach those who ignore the original text while relishing its adaptations, but I really think that movie and theatre adaptations are a way of drawing people nearer to the book. I had experienced at least thirteen different tellings of A Christmas Carol before this week when I finally just had to know what Dickens’ original was like. Because of my immersion in the story outside of the book, I found my way towards this fantastic classic text (and it was waaaay shorter than LOTR).

I really hope that LML continue to act in this way, as a theatrical conduit for interest in stories, books and authors. And… we’re looking forward to a couple of exciting announcements early in 2014 that will certainly get some pages turning…

Happy humbuggin’!

Matt Clarke