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Charleston Stage: Christmas Carol Curriculum Guide

By Charles Dickens A New Adaptation by Julian Wiles

Study Guide

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Charleston Stage: Christmas Carol Curriculum Guide

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Setting The Stage Credits A Christmas Carol By Charles Dickens A New Adaptation by Julian Wiles Directed by Julian Wiles Music Direction by Amanda Wansa Scenery Design by Stefanie Christensen Costume Design by Barbara Young Sponsored by: Sponsorships still available. Theatre Etiquette Discuss proper audience behavior with your students. While applause, laughter and reaction, when appropriate, are appreciated and anticipated, unnecessary noise or movement can distract the actors and audience members, while also affecting the quality of the performance. It is very important that students understand how their behavior can affect a live performance. You, the teacher, and other adult chaperones for your group are responsible for your student's behavior. We ask that the chaperones sit among the students rather than together in a group behind the students. Our ushers will react to disruptions and attempt to quell them. We reserve the right to remove any student causing a distraction from the theatre. When entering the theatre venue please make sure all of your students have name tags with their name and your school's name.


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Meet the Author; Charles Dickens Charles John Huffam Dickens, (February 7, 1812 to June 9 1870); was an English novelist of the Victorian Era as well as a vigorous social campaigner. Many believed in Dickens’s mastery of prose, his endless invention of unique, clever personalities, and his powerful social sensibilities, but fellow writers such as Henry James, and Virginia Woolf faulted his work for sentimentality, implausible occurrences, and grotesque characterizations. The popularity of Dickens's novels and short stories are still in print to this day. Many of Dickens's novels first appeared in periodicals and magazines in serialized form—a popular format at the time—and, unlike many other authors who completed entire novels before serial production commenced, Dickens often composed his works in parts, in the order in which they were meant to appear. Though he is well known for many of his works A Christmas Carol is his most widely produced work on stage. The novel was written during a time in which the Old Christmas traditions were being lost. In the theatre production alone this treasured story is produced at least 50,000 times a year.

CHARACTERS SCROOGE, a miserly old man FRED, His nephew CAROLINE, his fiancé BOB CRATCHITT works for Scrooge, has peter and tiny Tim MR WIGGINS, Servant to Scrooge MRS TAMBOR, Cook to Scrooge CHRISTMAS PAST


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CHRISTMAS PRESENT JACOB MARLEY, Scrooge’s deceased partner FEZZIWIG, hat maker Scrooge’s boss BELLE, Fezziwig’s daughter Scrooge’s early love TINY TIM, Bob Cratchitt's son PETER, another MRS. CRATCHITT, Bob’s wife GHOST of WHAT IS YET TO COME CHORUS, of visitors, ghouls, patrons, carolers, children and towns people.

SYNOPSIS OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL “I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round...as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.” -Charles Dickens A mean-spirited, miserly old man named Ebenezer Scrooge sits in his counting-house on a frigid Christmas Eve. His clerk, Bob Crachitt, shivers in the anteroom because Scrooge refuses to spend money on heating coals for a fire. Scrooge's nephew, Fred, pays his uncle a visit and invites him to his annual Christmas party. Two visitors also drop by and ask Scrooge for a contribution to their charity. Scrooge reacts to the holiday visitors with bitterness and venom, spitting out an angry "Bah! Humbug!" in response to his nephew's "Merry Christmas!" Later that evening, after returning to his dark, cold apartment, Scrooge receives a chilling visitation from the ghost of his dead partner, Jacob Marley. Marley, looking haggard and pallid, relates his unfortunate story. As punishment for his greedy and self-serving life his spirit has been condemned to wander the Earth weighted down with heavy chains. Marley hopes to save Scrooge from sharing the same fate. Marley informs Scrooge that three spirits will visit him during each of the next three nights. After the wraith disappears, Scrooge collapses into a deep sleep. He wakes moments before the arrival of the Ghost of Christmas Past. The spirit escorts Scrooge on a journey into the past to previous Christmases from the curmudgeon's earlier years. Invisible to those he watches, Scrooge revisits his childhood school days, his apprenticeship with a jolly merchant named Fezziwig, and his engagement to Belle, a woman


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who leaves Scrooge because his lust for money eclipses his ability to love another. Scrooge, deeply moved, sheds tears of regret before the phantom returns him to his bed. The Ghost of Christmas Present, a majestic giant clad in a green fur robe, takes Scrooge through London to unveil Christmas as it will happen that year. Scrooge watches the large, bustling Cratchit family prepare a miniature feast in its meager home. He discovers Bob Cratchit's crippled son, Tiny Tim, a courageous boy whose kindness and humility warms Scrooge's heart. The specter then zips Scrooge to his nephew's to witness the Christmas party. Scrooge finds the jovial gathering delightful and pleads with the spirit to stay until the very end of the festivities. Toward the end of the day, he shows Scrooge two starved children, Ignorance and Want, living under his coat. He vanishes instantly as Scrooge notices a dark, hooded figure coming toward him. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come leads Scrooge through a sequence of mysterious scenes relating to an unnamed man's recent death. Scrooge sees businessmen discussing the dead man's riches, some vagabonds trading his personal effects for cash, and a poor couple expressing relief at the death of their unforgiving creditor. Scrooge, anxious to learn the lesson of his latest visitor, begs to know the name of the dead man. After pleading with the ghost, Scrooge finds himself in a churchyard, the spirit pointing to a grave. Scrooge looks at the headstone and is shocked to read his own name. He desperately implores the spirit to alter his fate, promising to renounce his insensitive, avaricious ways and to honor Christmas with all his heart. Whoosh! He suddenly finds himself safely tucked in his bed. Overwhelmed with joy by the chance to redeem himself and grateful that he has been returned to Christmas Day, Scrooge rushes out onto the street hoping to share his newfound Christmas spirit. He sends a giant Christmas turkey to the Cratchit house and attends Fred's party, to the stifled surprise of the other guests. As the years go by, he holds true to his promise and honors Christmas with all his heart: he treats Tiny Tim as if he were his own child, provides lavish gifts for the poor, and treats his fellow human beings with kindness, generosity, and warmth.

Curriculu m Connections Locales in A Christmas Carol London, Christmas Eve, 1843. Throughout the play, time shifts through different periods of Ebenezerʼs life, from boarding school in 1796 to his future in 1844. The Creation and History of A Christmas Carol and Dickens Charles Dickens was born into a struggling lower-middle class family. When he was ten, Dickens’ father moved the family from Chatham to a smaller house in Camden Town, London. The four-room house at 16 Bayham Street is thought to be the model for the Cratchit’s house. The six Cratchit children correspond to the six Dickens children at that time, including Dickens’ youngest brother, a sickly boy known as “Tiny Fred”. Even with the move to London, his family could not afford to send Dickens to school. When he was twelve, his father found work for him


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in a factory, and he boarded with another family. Soon afterward, his father was imprisoned for debt, and the whole family moved to the Marshals a debtors’ prison except for Charles, who kept working. He felt abandoned and ashamed of this experience for the rest of his life, and although he fictionalized it in his novels, during his life he told the truth to only one person, his friend and biographer, John Forster. As an adult, Dickens found work first in a law office, and then as a newspaper reporter, covering the proceedings of Parliament. While working as a reporter, Dickens began writing semi-fictional sketches for magazines, eventually publishing them as Sketches by Boz. His next work was The Pickwick Papers, which was published in a relatively new serial format. Each month, a twelve thousand-word section of the book was sold at a shilling each. This made a long book affordable to many more people. After Pickwick, all of his subsequent books, until A Christmas Carol, were first sold in serial form. Charles Dickens was an outgoing, playful man who loved games and parties. The act of writing A Christmas Carol affected him profoundly. During its composition, he wrote a friend that he “wept and laughed, and wept again, and excited himself in a most extraordinary manner in the composition; and thinking whereof he walked about the black streets of London fifteen and twenty miles and many a night when all the sober folks had gone to bed.” Shortly after the publication of A Christmas Carol, Dickens moved his family from their London home to settle briefly in Genoa, Italy, and later moved on to Switzerland and Paris. During these years away from London, his best known works included Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, and David Copperfield. Once back in England, Dickens would spend his later years creating some of his most internationally acclaimed works. These include Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations. In 1870, the first installment of The Mystery of Edwin Drood was published, and the author made his last public appearance. He died in his home at Gad’s Hill Place on June 9, 1870. “He was a sympathizer to the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed; and by his death, one of England’s greatest writers is lost to the world.” – Written on the tomb of Charles Dickens in Westminster Abbey, 1870 (This information was compiled and created by Dallas Theatre Center)

What might be wrong with Tiny Tim? In the December 1992 issue of the American Journal of Diseases of Children, Dr. Donald Lewis, an assistant professor of pediatrics and neurology at the Medical College of Hampton Roads in Norfolk, Virginia, theorized that Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit’s ailing son in Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol, suffered from a kidney disease that made his blood too acidic. Dr. Lewis studied the symptoms of Tim's disease in the original manuscript of the 1843 classic. The disease, distal renal tubular acidosis (type I), was not recognized until the early 20th century but therapies to treat its symptoms were available in Dickens' time. Dr. Lewis explained that Tim's case, left untreated due to the poverty of the Cratchit household, would produce the symptoms alluded to in the novel. According to the Ghost of Christmas Present, Tim was supposed to die within a year. The fact that he did not die, due to Scrooge's newfound generosity, means that the disease was treatable with proper medical care. Dr. Lewis consulted medical textbooks of the mid 1800's and found that Tim's symptoms


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would have been treated with alkaline solutions, used to counteract the excess acid in blood and facilitate a rapid recovery. While other possibilities exist, Dr. Lewis feels that the treatable kidney disorder best fits the “hopeful spirit of the story.” (Compiled by Bah Humbug Theatre)

19 th Centur y Time Line Dickens’s life spanned during a very lively time here are some important dates to give an idea of what was surrounding him and the world. 1812 February 7, Charles Dickens born in Portsmouth, England. 1815 War of 1812 ends. 1825 Construction begins on railroads in England. 1835 Dickens goes to work for The Morning Chronicle as a reporter. 1836 Texas wins independence from Mexico. 1837 Dickens publishes Pickwick Papers. 1838 Dickens publishes Oliver Twist. 1838 Samuel Morse devises the Morse Code. 1839 Dickens writes Nicholas Nickleby. 1840 Queen Victoria marries her cousin Prince Albert. 1842 Dickens travels to America to campaign for the abolition of slavery. 1843 Dickens publishes A Christmas Carol. 1844 Potato famine begins in Ireland. 1846 The planet Neptune discovered by German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle. 1848 United States victorious in Mexican War. 1849 Edgar Allan Poe, the American poet, critic and short story writer dies. 1849 Dickens publishes David Copperfield. 1855 British convicts no longer transported to Australia. 1859 Charles Dickens publishes A Tale of Two Cities. 1859 Charles Darwin publishes Origin of Species - first edition sells out in one day amid raging controversy. 1860 Charles Dickens publishes Great Expectations. 1861 Civil War breaks out between the Northern States and the Confederate South. Abraham Lincoln elected President of the United States. 1863 Slavery abolished in America. 1865 Civil War ends when General Lee of the Confederate Army surrenders to General Grant of the North. President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated. 1869 Suez Canal opens, connecting the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Suez, opening up trade to the Middle East. 1870 June 9, Charles Dickens dies at age 58, leaving his novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood unfinished.


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Victorian Currency To give an idea of what money was in circulation, here is a break down of currency: According to the novel, Bob Cratchit made15 shillings a week. NAME Farthing ha'penny Pence Shilling Half-a-crown Crown Pound Guinea

AMOUNT 1/4 of a penny 1/2 of a penny penny 12 pence (also known as a "bob") 2 1/2 shillings or 30 pence 5 shillings or 60 pence 20 shillings or 240 pence 21 shillings

APPEARANCE copper copper silver silver silver silver gold (or notes) gold (or notes)

Dickens’s London London was one of the first large industrial cities, and it quickly became so polluted and unhealthy that disease spread rampant. The Thames River was one of the major water sources for drinking, washing and cooking. It was not only polluted by all of the ship traffic, but it also had over two hundred open sewers that ran straight into it at various points up and down London’s shores. The streets were also dirty, filled with horse dung from the thousands of horse drawn vehicles. In fact, some streets were so dirty that many children took work as “crossing sweepers”, sweeping a path in front of people as they crossed the street. By the time A Christmas Carol was written, the Industrial Age had an overall atmosphere of indifference to its fellow man, with people of all ages working under terrible conditions and living in extreme poverty. At age 12, young Dickens was forced to start working in a factory. Themes that he experienced first hand, such as the mistreatment of children and child labor, are common topics addressed in much of his writing. Many of London’s youth were poor, even homeless. Most spent their days earning money for their families, instead of going to school. Because of the poor living conditions and lack of proper nourishment, there were thousands of children, like Tiny Tim, who were sickly or had ailments and died young. In 1839, nearly half of the funerals were for children under the age of 10. Many children grew up without education and had very little chance to escape the cycle of poverty. Dickens felt that this cycle of poverty could be broken through education and became interested in the Ragged Schools in London. Ragged Schools were for poor children in the cities who could not afford the tuition of the more common private schools. These schools were not well attended. (Compiled by Dallas Theatre Center)


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HOLIDAY TRADITIONS Christmas Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in the Christian faith. Born over two thousand years ago, Christians believe Him to be the Son of God. Whether Jesus was really born on December 25th, no one can say for certain. It was chosen because it already was a holiday in ancient times - a pagan feast (a pagan is a person who is not Christian, Jewish or Muslim). It is thought that the Nativity did take place on the 25th day of the month, however the exact month is uncertain. The Roman Church picked December 25th, and though questioned for several generations by the Eastern Church, it became a universal date for the holiday in the 5th Century. Hanukkah (also known as Hanukka or Chanukah) In the Jewish faith, Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Lights or the Feast of Consecration. By tradition, Hanukkah is the celebration and dedication of the new altar in the Temple at Jerusalem. The festival occurs in December near the Winter Solstice and lasts eight days. One of the traditions of Hanukkah is lighting special candles, one the first evening, two the second and so on. The eight-stemmed candle stand used in the lighting ceremony is called a menorah. Hanukkah is also celebrated by exchanging gifts and playing holiday games. Kwanzaa Kwanzaa is a seven-day festival, which begins on December 26th and ends on January 1st. It is based on traditional African harvest festivals and is celebrated by members of the African American community. Each day of the festival is devoted to a different idea (unity, selfdetermination, collective work, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith). Each night one of the candles on a seven- stemmed candle stand (kinara) is lit. Kwanzaa is also celebrated by giving gifts and an African feast.

The Meaning of the Holidays The true meaning of the holidays can be easily lost in the hustle and bustle of modern commercialism. For example, television and radio commercials remind us of the limited number of shopping days left until Hanukkah or Christmas. When children are busy making lists for presents from their parents or Santa, toys are the main attraction. It is easy for everyone, including children, to forget that the holidays are about giving as well as receiving. The holiday season should be a time when people think of helping others, bringing the dream of peace on Earth and goodwill to others closest to coming true. Presents Many American Christian families open brightly wrapped packages on Christmas Eve; others wait until the next morning. Presents are often hidden under the Christmas tree, or placed in stockings that are hung from the fireplace mantel. In France, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina,


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children find presents in their shoes. Jewish families often hide their Hanukkah presents and play games until the children find them. Some Latin-American children receive their presents in rather unique way. During the Christmas party, a Piñata (an earthenware jug or paper-mâché animal) is filled with surprises. The Pinata swings from a rope attached to a tree branch. One of the children is blindfolded and given three chances to break it open with a stick. If the child misses the Pinata as it swings overhead, the next in line tries (and so on and so forth) until someone shatters it and releases the sweets and toys inside. MERRY CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD The phrase "Merry Christmas" is spoken in many languages across the globe. Here is a list of just some of the names for Merry Christmas: Belgium - Zalige Kertfeest Brazil - Feliz Natal China - Sheng Tan Kuai Loh Denmark - Glaedelig Jul England - Happy Christmas Finland - Hauskaa Joulua France - Joyeux Noel Germany - Frohliche Weihnachten Greece - Eftihismena Christougenna Ireland - Nodlig mhaith chugnat Italy - Buon Natale Mexico - Feliz Navidad Netherlands - Hartelijke Kerstroeten Norway - Gledelig Jul Poland - Boze Narodzenie Portugal - Boas Festas Romania - Sarbatori vesele Russia - Hristos Razdajetsja Serbo-Croatia - Sretan Bozic Slovenian - Srecen Bozic Spain - Felices Pascuas, Feliz Navidad Sweden - God Jul Wales - Nadolig Llawen

Discussion before the Per formance All Language Arts Activities complete the following standards: o Developing and using oral communication o Understanding and reading literary texts o Understanding and using informational texts


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o Building Better vocabulary o Developing written communication o Developing and using research strategies All Social Studies Activities meets the following standards: o Understanding of different lifestyles locally and around the world o Understanding of regions and human systems All Theatre Activities meet the following standards: – Connecting ideas and action – Understanding characters – Design and Concept – Discussion Prompts 1. How do you celebrate the holidays? 2. What is your definition of a carol? 3. If any what kinds of carols have you sung or are you familiar with? 4. Are you familiar with the story of A Christmas Carol? What can you remember?

Activities Aft er the Performan ce Discussion Prompts 1. Why did Scrooge feel the way he felt about Christmas and the world? 2. What caused people to act the way they did around Scrooge? What kept people from standing up to him? 3. Why didnʼt the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come Speak? 4. What made Scrooge change his ways? 5. Who was your favorite character and why? 6. Why do you think Marley sent 3 ghosts rather than two or even 1? 7. What made Cratchitʼs and Fredʼs family happier than Scrooge?


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Activities English Modernize the Christmas Carol How might Dickens’s tale be different today? So many people have made there own version (Even the Simpsons!) Write your own version using the same structure that Dickens used. Remember that he used his surroundings and life to enhance his story. What surroundings could you use? Debate Imagine that rather than sending the Ghosts to make Scrooge to rethink his actions, Marley secured Scrooge a trial. Divide the class into two sides and have one side represent and defend Scrooge while the other side prosecutes. Social Studies and Culture Celebration Discuss with your class all of the different celebrations and traditions you keep over the holiday season. Then pick the top three cultures represented. Have each group research those culture’s traditions and come up with a creative presentation to feature these traditions. Compare and Contrast Using the information in the guide as a jumping off point do more research on 19th century London. Then look at Charleston during the same time period. Compare and contrast the negatives and positives. Would Dickens’s life be different if he were in Charleston rather than London why? Thankful for… Remind your self what you are thankful for. Pay it forward. Pick 3 kind deeds that you could do for some one else and do them. You will find that you will feel better and are taking part into the Christmas Spirit that Dickens wanted. Theatre Tableaus Go over the various celebrations you saw in the show. Note how they were similar and different. Also notice how they were set up. Director’s work very hard at creating stage pictures that depict a certain theme. Create your own tableaus that tell a certain story. Have other people guess at what kind of story you are telling. Sing along Create your own version of pictionary with song. Name that Tune. Divide up into teams and have the teams guess what carols you are singing.


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Design Have each student pick the spirits and re design their costumes to make them more modern. Imagine that the Christmas Carol is happening today and make the spirits fit into their surroundings.

R esources Books A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Many of his iconic lines from his other books are used in Wiles version of the Christmas Carol such as, Please sir may I have some more….. or It was the best of times and the worst of times. They can be found In other books written by him such as: Oliver Twist Nicolas Nickelby Great Expectations A Tale of Two Cities Films There are MANY movie versions of Carol…. Some of the best are.. A Christmas Carol, (1999) starring Patrick Stewart, and Richard E. Grant. Directed by David Hugh Jones A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) starring Michael Caine Plays There’s also other plays and musicals based on the characters and situations of A Christmas Carol. They include: The Trial of Ebeneezer Scrooge by Mark Brown A funny and satirical, yet touching sequel written in the 21st century. Scrooge has called the 3 ghost to trial for multiple count of abuse including trespassing, kidnapping, etc. Scrooge! The Musical by A Christmas Carol: The Musical (2004) with music by Alen Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahren Web Resources www.dtc.org, Dallas Theatre Center. They have a great Guide that can helped provide some of the information .


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www.victorianweb.com. A great overview of the time, places and Charles Dickens www.charlesdickenspage.com a page dedicated to bringing Charles Dickens back to life for new readers.

Christmas Carol Study Guide  

This is a study guide for teachers and their students.

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