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Community Shakespeare Presents A Christmas Carol
Dec 22, 2020
By Tracey Cottingham, Costume Director, CSC
Don't miss the chance to get into the spirit of the holidays. Join the Lopez Island Community Shakespeare Company as it presents a virtual production of "A Christmas Carol", by Charles Dickens and adapted by Richard Carter.
“Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!”. “But the show must go on, no matter the unfortunate times!” said Richard Carter, in June 2020 (this theater quote predates even Dickens.)

When I met with Richard this past summer to discuss possible plays to produce and how all of us could stay safe through the fall theater season, I was amazed to see the twinkle in Richard’s eyes and an enthusiasm I see every year to provide the very best theater experience we can achieve with our small island theater, Community Shakespeare. But there was something more this year influencing Richard, the realization of how the arts are more important than ever during these very challenging times for all of us, and especially for our young actors. Not only did we face challenges with rehearsals, as well as considering how to safely bring the performances to our families and Lopez theater audiences, we also knew there could be a chance we cancel everything part way into our season due to the pandemic. Only for a few minutes did we consider taking a break from our fall theater festival.

“What we do in Community Shakespeare always feels important to me but honestly, it does feel more important now. People seem genuinely surprised and excited we figured out a way to keep going. ‘It's what's needed,’ they say. I look forward to hearing their reactions,” Richard Carter exclaimed.

“We had to change our ideas a dozen times as Covid changed all of our lives,” Brian Treece, our Technical Director, expressed.

CSC has achieved what we weren’t sure was possible: two theater productions! Both are in the old-time radio style of the 1930’s, when the joy of listening to the actors heightens the visual imagination. We are all in agreement, the results are spectacular, with A Christmas Carol, by Dickens, ready in time for bringing holiday cheer to you and your loved ones, followed closely by 84 Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff, for the New Year.

Christmas Carol is a 30-minute radio play with visual montage supported with classical prints and etchings, all period music, played on original instrumentation, and, featuring all your favorite Dickens characters.

We all wore the same “can-do-anything” hat we always wear when working with our director and inspiring friend, Richard. They just were differently shaped hats. Rehearsals, for example, took place outdoors in the lovely fall weather.

“I enjoyed just practicing for ‘A Christmas Carol.’ I got a character called ‘The Ghost of Christmas Present,’ and it was an interesting character to try to portray,” shared Josie Luckhurst-Slattery.

Voice recordings of each actor took place in a soundproof room constructed in the Lopez Community Center for the Arts by Dave Rucker, stage manager. It was a like a spaceship, with remote computer contact with our amazing sound recording team of Jesse Hammond and Brian Treece. Thorough Covid sanitation was done between each actor’s time in the spaceship sound booth, overseen by Dave. After all actors had recorded, Master Sound Technician Jesse spliced everything together, a monumental job.

"I had an amazing time this year and really enjoyed the experience of getting to fine tune my accent work and just general acting,” noted Anna Fuller.

“I loved the sound booth. I found a new way of acting in that tiny spaceship connected to the crew outside. And it felt right: safe, but expressive of this season,” Rosie Sumner shared.

Costume Designer Tracey Cottingham was not let off the hook this year. Period costumes from our collection were used for bringing each character to life visually. Headshots were photographed for our production’s credits. This effort was led by our photographer, Robert Harrison, and super-all-around-help-everywhere-needed Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Rabel.

“I like to think about how the different characters lived and imagine myself as them. Also, I love the costumes and props the best!” Jacob Sanford, who played Marley with heavy chains as props, expressed.

“I love the characters and love feeling like them when I put on the costumes. I also love meeting new friends, and the people in Shakespeare (CSC) are really nice,” Zachary Sanford noted.

The behind-the-scene work is incredible to describe, as with old-time radio, the special Foley effects (the sounds that bring the characters to life) bring the performances to life. These sounds were scripted into the play by Brian and Richard, and then with some very lucky connections with a video production studio in NYC, the Foley sound effects, period music, and montage etchings were added. The final editing, with everything put together and creating the end credits, was done by Matteus Rabel, a high school student with 10 years of performing in Community Shakespeare productions. An amazing feat, given the technical nature of this year’s productions, of everyone working solo, with no contact indoors with each other.

“It’s great to see the benefits of creative constraints in action,” Matteus Rabel mused.

“It was a really cool experience and I will use what I have learned in years to come." Anna Fuller.

“There is sadness in having to alter our communal process this year, but it will be different and wonderful for the cast and crew to be IN the audience WITH our audience. Along with them, we will experience the surprise and delight of discovering how it all turns out,” Rosie Sumner summarized.

We invite you to join us: Follow money-loving Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of redemption at the direction of the three spirits of Christmases past, present, and to come.

Don't miss the chance to get into the spirit of the holidays. Please join us at the Community Shakespeare Company website.

Your donations to this 501C(3) educational organization are gratefully accepted.

“God Bless Us Everyone!” Tiny Tim