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Study Guide



yracuse Stage is committed to providing students with rich theatre experiences that explore and examine what it is to be human. Research shows that children who participate in or are exposed to the arts show higher academic achievement, stronger self-esteem, and improved ability to plan and work toward a future goal. Many students in our community have their first taste of live theatre through Syracuse Stage’s outreach programs. Last season more than 30,000 students from across New York State attended or participated in the Bank of America Children’s Tour, artsEmerging, the Young Playwrights Festival, and our Student Matinee Program. We gratefully acknowledge the corporations and foundations who support our commitment to in-depth arts education for our community. Children’s Tour Naming Sponsor

General Education Sponsors

John Ben Snow Foundation, Inc.

Lori Pasqualino as “Annabel” in the 2010 Bank of America Children’s Tour: Annabel Drudge... and the Second Day of School. Photo by Michael Davis

Content collection and layout design by Kate Laissle; Portions written by Len Fonte

Timothy Bond

Producing Artistic Director

Syracuse Stage and SU Drama

4.) Production Information

13) Dickens and Christmas

820 E Genesee Street Syracuse, NY 13210

5.) Introduction

14) Food


6.) Teaching Theatre

Director of Educational Outreach

8.) Letter from the Director

15) A Christmas Carol on Stage and Screen

Lauren Unbekant (315) 443-1150

9.) About the Playwright

Manager of Educational Outreach

10.) Charles Dickens

Kate Laissle (315) 442-7755

Group Sales & Student Matinees

12) About the Play

16) Questions for Discussion 17) Actitivies 18) Sources and Resources

Tracey White (315) 443-9844 Box Office

(315) 443-3275

Syracuse Stage is a global village square where renowned artists and audiences of all ages gather to celebrate our cultural richness, witness the many truths of our common humanity, and explore the transformative power of live theatre. Celebrating our 41st season as the professional theatre in residence at Syracuse University, we create innovative, adventurous, and entertaining productions of new plays, classics and musicals, and offer interactive education and outreach programs to Central New York.

EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH AT SYRACUSE STAGE The Bank of America CHILDREN’S TOUR brings high-energy, interactive, and culturally diverse performances to elementary school audiences. ArtsEMERGING takes students on an in-depth exploration of one mainstage season production using a multi-cultural, multi-arts lens. The YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL challenges students to submit original ten-minute plays for a chance to see their work performed at Syracuse Stage. The STUDENT MATINEE SERIES provides student with the opportunity for a rich theatrical experience as part of our audience.



Charles Dickens aDapteD by

Romulus Linney DirecteD by

Peter Amster co-proDuceD with

SU Drama musicaL Director


Dianne Adams McDowell

Anthony Salatino

scenic Designer

costume Designer

Lighting Designer

sounD Designer

Linda Buchanan

Tracy Dorman

Thomas Hase

Victoria DeIorio

proDuction DiaLect coach

s ta g e m a n a g e r


Malcolm Ingram

Stuart Plymesser*

Harriet Bass

Timothy Bond

Jeffrey Woodward

Ralph Zito

Producing Artistic Director

Managing Director

Chair, Department of Drama

SyracuSe Stage dedicateS the 2013 – 2014 SeaSon to arthur Storch, 1925 – 2013: founding artistic director of Syracuse Stage and chair of Syracuse University Department of Drama 1974 – 1992. presenting sponsor


sponsoreD by

aDDitionaL support

meDia sponsors

season sponsor

A Christmas Carol (Linney) is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York. November 23 - December 29, 2013



As you take your students on the exciting journey into the world of live theatre we hope that you’ll take a moment to help prepare them to make the most of their experience. Unlike movies or television, live theatre offers the thrill of unpredictability. With the actors present on stage, the audience response becomes an integral part of the performance and the overall experience: the more involved and attentive the audience, the better the show. Please remind your students that they play an important part in the success of the performance!

A few reminders... BE PROMPT

Give your students plenty of time to arrive, find their seats, and get situated. Have them visit the restrooms before the show begins!




Please remind your students that their behavior and responses affect the quality of the performance and the enjoyment of the production for the entire audience. Live theatre means the actors and the audience are in the same room, and just as the audience can see and hear the performers, the performers can see and hear the audience. Please ask your students to avoid disturbing those around them. Please no talking or unnecessary or disruptive movement during the performance. Also, please remind students that cellphones should be switched completely off. No texting or tweeting, please. When students give their full attention to the action on the stage, they will be rewarded with the best performance possible.


Instead of instructing students to remain totally silent, please discuss the difference between appropriate responses (laughter, applause, participation when requested) and inappropriate noise (talking, cell phones, etc).


Please do not leave or allow students to leave during the performance except in absolute emergencies. Again, reminding them to use the restrooms before the performance will help eliminate unnecessary disruption.


teaching theatre 6.)

Most (but not all) plays begin with a script — a story to be told and a blueprint of how to tell it. In his famous treatise, The Poetics, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle outlined six


that playwrights are mindful of to this day:

Plot What is the story line? What happened before the play started? What does each character want? What do they do to achieve their goals? What do they stand to gain/lose?

Theme What ideas are wrestled with in the play? What questions does the play pose? Does it present an opinion?


Who are the people in the story? What are their relationships? Why do they do what they do? How does age/status/etc. affect them?


What do the characters say? How do they say it? When do they say it?

Music How do music and sound help to tell the story? Spectacle What visual elements support the play? This could include: puppets, scenery, costumes, dance, movement, and more.

Other Elements: Conflict/Resolution, Action, Improvisation, Non-verbal communication, Staging, Humor, Realism and other styles, Metaphor, Language, Tone, Pattern & Repetition, Emotion, Point of view.

ACTIVITY At its core, drama is about characters

working toward goals and overcoming obstacles. Ask students to use their bodies and voices to create characters who are: very old, very young, very strong, very weak, very tired, very energetic, very cold, very warm. Have their characters interact with others. Give them an objective to fulfill despite environmental obstacles. Later, recap by asking how these obstacles affected their characters and the pursuit of their objectives.

Any piece of theatre comprises multiple art forms. As you explore this production with your students, examine the use of: WRITING



How are each of these art forms used in this production? Why are they used? How do they help to tell the story?

teaching theatre

Most plays utilize designers to create the visual world of the play through scenery, costumes, lighting, and more. These artists use


to communicate information about the world within the play and its characters.

LINE can have length, width, tex-

ture, direction and curve. There are 5 basic varieties: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, curved, and zig-zag.


is two-dimensional and encloses space. It can be geometric (e.g. squares and circles), man-made, or free-form.

FORM is three-dimensional. It encloses space and fills space. It can be geometric (e.g. cubes and cylinders), man-made, or free-form.


has three basic properties: HUE is the name of the color (e.g. red, blue, green), INTENSITY is the strength of the color (bright or dull), VALUE is the range of lightness to darkness.


defined and determined by shapes and forms. Positive space is enclosed by shapes and forms, while negative space exists around them.

TEXTURE refers to the “feel” of

an object’s surface. It can be smooth, rough, soft, etc. Textures may be ACTUAL (able to be felt) or IMPLIED (suggested visually through the artist’s technique).


Have students discuss these elements BEFORE attending the performance and ask them to pay special attention to how these elements are used in the production’s design. Whether your students are observing a piece of visual art (painting, sculpture, photograph) or a piece of performance art (play, dance), allow them first to notice the basic elements, then encourage them to look deeper into why these elements are used the way they are. 7.)


Linney Linney Linney Linney Romulus Romulus Romulus Romulus Romulus Linney was born on Sept 21,1930 in Philadelphia and grew up in the South. He is the father of actress Laura Linney. A prolific writer, Linney authored eighty-five plays, three novels, four opera librettos, and twenty short stories. His plays include The Sorrow of Frederick (1966), Childe Byron (1977), and True Crimes (1996). He also wrote A Lesson Before Dying, based on the novel by Ernest J. Gaines which was produced by Syracuse Stage in 2002. He was the first playwright in residence spotlighted by New York’s Signature Theatre Company. After his death on January 15, 2011, Signature Theatre Company named a theatre after him.


Charles Dickens

was born in Portsmouth, England on February 7, 1812 to John and Elizabeth Dickens. John Dickens was a naval clerk whose meager pay could barely support his family. In 1822, he was transferred to London, where the family struggled to live on a lower wage. When Charles was twelve, his father was consigned to Marshalsea prison, where people unable to pay their debts were kept until their creditors were paid. As was the custom, most of the family joined him there, however young Charles left school and went to work pasting labels on boxes in a shoe black factory to help pay his father’s debts. He returned to school when his father received an inheritance and was released from prison, but Charles once again had to leave school at fifteen when the family was evicted from their home for not paying the rent. This time, he found employment as a clerk in an attorney’s office. He became proficient in shorthand and freelanced as a reporter in the London courts, eventually publishing his own observations in periodicals under the pseudonym Boz, a family nickname. The pieces were collected in book form under the title Sketches by Boz in 1836. The same year he married Catherine Hogarth, with whom he would have ten children. His next literary endeavor, The Pickwick Papers, was a series of stories intended to accompany featured illustrations. His comic stories proved more popular than the pictures, and Dickens’s career as a writer was assured. At this time, novels were often published in installments in periodicals. While whole books might be out of the budget for many, a portion of a novel in thirty-two pages with two illustrations could be had for a shilling (around five cents). As his writing career advanced, Dickens edited the periodical Bentley’s Miscellany where his first novel, Oliver Twist was serialized in 1838 to great success. He soon left Bentley’s Miscellany, and over the next few years published weekly magazines of his own to showcase his work. In 1842, Dickens, now quite famous, set out on his first lecture tour of America, a country he observed with amusement and annoyance and which he satirized in both American Notes and The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. In his enormously popular talks in the U.S., he spoke out passionately against slavery. A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, was born of necessity as the world famous Dickens, already the father of several children, saw his income begin to dip. He conceived of A Christmas Carol as a stand alone book that would put him back on his feet. However, it was produced in a such an expensive deluxe edition that it did not immediately make him any money.


With the publication of David Copperfield, (1849) Dickens gained superstar status. Copperfield, which told of the daily life of a bright young man whose trials and brushes with poverty resembled those of the author in many ways, took England and indeed the entire English speaking world by storm. The marriage of Dickens and Catherine became increasingly tense, and the restless author became enamored of a young actress by the name of Ellen Ternan. He and Catherine legally separated in 1858. Dickens and Ellen remained close for the rest of his life. Dickens wrote twenty novels, among them such classic as Nicholas Nickleby, Hard Times, A Tale Of Two Cities, Bleak House, The Old Curiosity Shop and Great Expectations, which along with David Copperfield is considered a second psychological autobiography. Pip, the novel’s hero, guilt-ridden and scarred by a childhood event, is uneasy in the face of his adult success. In 1865, Dickens and Ellen Ternan were in a train accident. While he was not seriously injured, this marked the beginning of his physical decline. He subsequently suffered several strokes and died in 1870. His final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood was unfinished on his desk. Almost from the beginning of his fame, Dickens work was adapted forthe stage. This was a natural progression as the author’s own love of the theatre was evident. As a young man, he toyed with becoming an actor. He wrote several plays and participated in amateur theatrics. His novels brim with theatrical situations and crackling dialogue. In his prime, his public lectures gave way to readings of his work, where he would call up the voices and gestures of the vivid characters he had created. His last public reading before he died included A Christmas Carol.


About this Adaptation A Christmas Carol tells the story of miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited on Christmas Eve by four ghosts. First, the specter of his equally miserable business partner, Jacob Marley, warns him of visitations from The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and The Ghost of Yet to Come. These spirits lead him on a merry chase of self-discovery. Although the Romulus Linney’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol adheres closely to the book and often uses dialogue directly from Dickens, in the preface to the actors edition the playwright states that on reading the book he was surprised by the appearance, throughout the story of happy boys in so many guises, from the boy who wants to sing a carol to the terrible Ebenezer Scrooge at the beginning of the book, through playmates at school . . . ending with the ‘remarkable’ boy who gets the Christmas goose for Scrooge near the end, all pointing to the famous and heart-opening Tiny Tim. It is as if a dead boy in Scrooge is is being prepared for rebirth from a calcified old man. Linney uses these happy boys, who take on a more prominent place in this retelling, as signpost for the regeneration of Scrooge.


Dickens and Christmas

There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, that upon the great author’s death, a child was heard to cry, “What --Mr. Dickens dead? Will Father Christmas die too?” Although we associate Dickens with the revival of Christmas traditions in England, the truth is that the holiday spirit had already begun to reassert itself by the time A Christmas Carol was published. After being flatly forbidden by the Puritan leaders during the Commonwealth, Christmas celebrations had returned with the royalty in 1660. But gone were celebrations of the twelve days of Christmas, the streets festooned with decorations, and the communal feasts in great halls of the manors. Now the holiday was the occasion of a visit to church and quiet family gatherings. By the time of Charles Dickens’s birth in 1812, the Christmas holiday had indeed become a low key affair, but early nineteenth century British conservatives were pushing Christmas celebrations as a national priority as a show of unity in the face of the French Revolution across the channel. Christmas got a boost from the royals as Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert brought from Germany the Christmas tree and the custom of giving gifts to children. The old carols were sung again. The first Christmas cards were created in 1840. Suddenly, Christmas spirit was everywhere. The stage was set for A Christmas Carol. In Dickens, the English Christmas had found a voice. Although the slim volume was greeted as something new, the iconic character of Ebenezer Scrooge does have a precedent in Dickens’ work. In “The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton” in The Pickwick Papers, Dickens introduces a gravedigger by the name of Gabriel Grub, “an ill-conditioned, cross-grained, surly fellow,” who is determined to not make merry on Christmas until he is captured by goblins and convinced to change his ways. He emerges from his ordeal “full of mirth and cheerfulness.” We tend to think that A Christmas Carol presents a greeting card version of London. In fact, the novella is the first look at a modern Christmas in a city at the height of the industrial revolution. While the Cratchits live in genteel poverty in this new London, the starker faces of need are seen in its streets. While the book has a clear social agenda, the Christian origins of the holiday are barely mentioned. Description of “the greater birthday” is the closest we get to the religious Christmas story. Ironically, in his own dramatic readings of A Christmas Carol, Dickens muted the the book’s darker social message, toning down his call to look after the welfare of children. After the great success of A Christmas Carol, Dickens saw that it was in his best interest to keep Christmas alive in his fiction. In 1844, he published The Chimes, a dark holiday tale that proved to be unpopular. Chastened by public reaction, he wrote the more sentimental The Cricket on the Hearth in 1845. This was followed by The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain in 1848 and The Christmas Tree in 1850. 13.)

“A murmur of delight arose all around the board” An old Italian saying describes an overworked person as one who “has more to do than the ovens in

England at Christmas.” Indeed, taking the cue from the Victorian feasts celebrated by Charles Dickens, the British holiday table groans with treats of all kinds. Dickens himself described the bounty in A Christmas Carol as Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present: Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry...mince pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam.

In the Victorian era, the main course was usually goose or roast beef. Late in the era, roast turkey became very popular. Sweets included mince pies, and even the ladies indulged in a powerful rum punch called shrub.The real star of the day was the traditional Christmas pudding, a mixture of fruit, breadcrumbs, raisins, spices and other goodies bound with suet, rolled into a large ball, wrapped in cheesecloth and boiled for several hours. This initial preparation was usually done on Stir-up Sunday, the Sunday before Advent. Every family member was to stir the mixture and make a wish before it was dropped into the boiling pot. On Christmas Day, the pudding, the flavors now melded into delicious harmony, was boiled again to reheat, then doused with brandy, lit with a match, and brought to the table flaming to the applause of the entire assembly. It was then served with a custard sauce. Dickens brings this moment to life in A Christmas Carol: Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastry cook next to each other, with a laundress’s next to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute, Mrs Cratchit entered–flushed, but smiling proudly–with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top. 14.)

A Christmas Carol on Stage and Screen A Christmas Carol was adapted for the stage almost immediately after publication, with one version authorized by Dickens. By 1845, there were productions onstage simultaneously in London and New York. Since then, productions of A Christmas Carol have become a holiday tradition. It’s been adapted, musicalized, and set in in modern times. There have many film and television versions of A Christmas Carol, beginning with a short silent film in 1901 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILDHYYsC-g0). In 1910, Thomas Edison unleashed double exposure ghosts in a thirteen minute adaptation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmp9RbFThwM). The first sound Christmas Carol was a British film called Scrooge, starring Seymour Hick released in 1935. Surprisingly, this version doesn’t show all the ghosts. In 1938, M-G-M produced a fine Christmas Carol starring Reginald Owen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbaa-T5wSE8), but for many people the definitive Christmas Carol is the 1951 British film starring Alastair Sim. When this film was released to television it became must-see holiday viewing (http://www. youtube.com/watch?v=zJV3Wb5cOW8). In 1962, Mr. Magoo starred in an engaging television version with songs penned by Broadway veterans Bob Merrill and Jule Styne just before the two went on to write the score for Funny Girl (http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=J2GrpKlqcLQ ). Albert Finney played the old skinflint in the movie musical Scrooge in 1970. Disney gave us the animated short Mickey’s Christmas Carol in1983. In a blaMr. Magoo’s tant instance of typecasting, Scrooge McDuck played his namesake.( http:// Christmas Carol (1962) www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Cn4VuODI4c). George C. Scott was praised for his performance in a 1984 TV version. Michael Caine was Scrooge in A Muppet Christmas Carol in1992. Kermit the Frog played Bob Cratchit. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhpu2tq9GG4 ). In Scrooged (1988), Bill Murray is a cynical TV producer visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve. Following in the footsteps of Dickens himself, Patrick Stewart acted a one man version on stage, and then followed it up with a fully cast television version in 1999 (http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=upAYkFugbco). Jim Carrey played our miserly hero and the ghosts in a 2009 CGI film (http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=LJz8Il_OhoQ).

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

There have been many eccentric adaptations and parodies for A Christmas Carol including a TV movie starring soap opera queen Susan Lucci as a female Scrooge called Ebbie. Even Barbie got into the act with a DVD version. A Christmas Carol parodies are a staple of series television. 15.)

Questions For Discussion How are characters of A Christmas Carol symbolic? What is there about their words, what they do and how they are costumed that heightens that symbolism? The ghosts change Scrooge’s mind about the path he is on. Is there any person or event that has changed your mind about where you are heading? Can you recall a moment when your perspective changed? What moments from your own life would ghosts show you? Scrooge gets a look into the future that might be. Would you like to look into your future? A Christmas Carol seems to say that we are the sum of what has happened in our past. Do you believe this? How believable are the ghosts in the book and the Syracuse Stage production. Do they fit into your idea of what a ghost is? What will Tiny Tim be like as an adult? What changes will the benefits of Scrooge’s generosity give him? If you had unlimited wealth, which charitable causes would you give money to? Why do people come to see productions of A Christmas Carol over and over from year to year? What are some other traditional holiday entertainments? If you were in a production of A Christmas Carol, which character would you like to play? Which of the ghosts would you like to be?

A Christmas Carol Syracuse Stage - 2006

What are some activities you associate with whatever holidays your family celebrates? Are there special things you say or do? Are there charitable activities attached to the holiday? What do you do as a member of a community? Like many of Dickens’ books, A Christmas Carol presents social criticism. It says something about the society at the time it was written. What are some of the ideas and practices Dickens criticizes? Are any of those things still present in our own society? 16.)

Activities Research organize and enjoy a Victorian Christmas celebration. With online resources, it’s easy to find recipes for special holiday foods, instructions for holiday games, and examples of entertainment from the Victorian age. Research dress and come in costume as characters from A Christmas Carol or other works by Dickens. Christmas carols are products of the times in which they were written. Research and present the history of these holiday songs. What were they actually saying to the people for whomthey were written? Have any changed over the years? Are carols from different countries different in tone or content? Are there any American Christmas carols? Create an alternate ending for A Christmas Carol. Can Scrooge’s newfound generosity change everything? Write and perform an updated version of A Christmas Carol. Who would be a Scrooge now? What would Bob Cratchit do for a living? Research and present information about winter holidays from around the world. What do they have in common? How are they different? What activities are associated with them? How are they connected to social welfare? Much of what Dickens wrote has contributed to discussion of social reform. In classroom reports consider the impact his novels have had. Books to focus on might include Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Hard Times, and Great Expectations. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is available online on several sites. Here are some places where you can find the text: http://web.archive.org/web/20080825120326/http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/DicChri.html http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/46 http://www.stormfax.com/dickens.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptations_of_A_Christmas_Carol http://classiclit.about.com/od/christmascarola/a/aa_christcarol_questions.htm


A fine biography of Charles Dickens can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L189MhnAloM 17.)

Sources and Resources http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/charles-dickens/9724579/Ten-things-you-never-knew-about-CharlesDickenss-A-Christmas-Carol.html http://dickens.ucsc.edu/resources/faq/christmas.html http://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/dec/22/classics.charlesdickens http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/dickens/dickensbio1.html http://www.online-literature.com/dickens/ http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/dickens/xmas/pold1.html http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/christmas-according-to-dickens/ http://charlesdickenspage.com/christmas.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romulus_Linney_%28playwright%29 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/15/arts/16linney.html http://home.kendra.com/victorianrituals/Victor/xmas.htm http://home.kendra.com/victorianrituals/Victor/xmas.htm http://www.foodtimeline.org/christmasfood.html#victorianchristmas http://www.thecompletevictorian.com/Christmas.html Linney, Romulus, A Christmas Carol. Dramatists Publishing Service, Inc. New York: 1996.


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