A Dickens of a Christmas Is Alternative to A Christmas Carol, Playing NC Dec. 11-21

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11 Dec 2003

Artistic Director Preston Lane in Triad Stage's <i>A Dickens of a Christmas</i>
Artistic Director Preston Lane in Triad Stage's A Dickens of a Christmas
Photo by Lenny Cohen
Patrick Stewart is known for his one-man Broadway version of A Christmas Carol, but down in Greensboro, North Carolina, actor-writer-director Preston Lane is becoming a tradition with his solo show, A Dickens of a Christmas.

Lane, artistic director of Triad Stage, the major resident Equity theatre in Greensboro, brings back his unique adaptation for a second year, playing a limited run, Dec. 11-14 and Dec. 18-21.

Considered something of a tour-de-force, Lane performs his brisk version of Dickens' story, "A Christmas Carol"--a twist on the many stage versions that are seen in theatres all over the country this time of year.

"A Dickens of Christmas is my second produced adaptation of 'A Christmas Carol,'" Lane told Playbill On-Line. "Along with Jon Moscone, I did a full scale musical adaptation that performs yearly at the Dallas Theatre Center. When I came to Triad Stage I knew that we couldn't do a big Christmas Carol because the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival already had a wonderful adaptation they had been producing for many years.

"In my research of Dickens' life, I was fascinated by his interest in the theatre and by the descriptions of his highly theatrical readings of his own work. A Dickens of a Christmas is my response to a contemporary re imagining of what such a reading might have been like. I tell the story as Dickens taking on the different characters, but never loosing sight of Dickens' point of view.



"I've always been fascinated by the story of Scrooge. It is the closest thing we have to a modern western myth. The story is known by everyone and its message is still relevant more than a century later. If find something deeply moving about the idea that we can change our lives and be better than we thought possible.

"I think too often the story of Scrooge's redemption gets lost behind the spectacle and I wanted to place the focus back on the words. The text is cut down from the original but is almost word for word Dickens and includes some sections normally left out of most adaptations."

How does he keep a solo show from being static and passive?

"We strive to make the piece theatrically inventive," Lane explained. "The set attempts to redefine the theatre space as a room for remembering. A large window in the upstage wall reveals computer animated images from the story. Sound, lights and special effects play a key role in shaping the audience's journey through the play.

"I try to resist the impulse to act whenever possible, but I love the theatricality and audience relationship inherent in this piece. Also I adore this story so it's a great pleasure to bring it to life -- and to get to play characters I'd never have a hope of playing, like Belle and Marley and Scrooge."

Lane said he's not married to the material: It's available for licensing to other adventurous actors and theatres.

Triad Stage is located in Greensboro's historic downtown shopping district, 232 South Elm Street. The reviving strip will come to brighter life in 2004 with the opening of the Civil Rights sit-in museum in a converted Woolworth's store.

To purchase tickets or for more information, call Triad Stage (336) 272-0160 or visit www.triadstage.org.