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Actors guild in qathet region prepares for live-stage reading

Novella adaptation stays close to original ghost story

English novelist and social critic Charles Dickens is probably best known for his 1843 Victorian ghost story, A Christmas Carol.

The now classic novella was a hit around the world and launched Dickens' name to fame, as well as that of the central character, Ebenezer Scrooge, a curmudgeonly and miserly businessman who has no time for kindness or charity, and thinks of it as a waste of time. However, on Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by three spirits who lead him on a different path.

Townsite Actors Guild founders Stephanie and Stephen Miller will be presenting two plays for the guild’s 2023/2024 season; the first being A Christmas Carol on December 10 and 17 at Forest Bistro and Lounge. 

"The play will be a live-stage reading by 16 local actors," said Stephen, who is producing the play. "Stephanie is directing, and there will be professional lights, sound effects and set deck."

Auditions resulted in an overwhelming turnout, according to Stephen. A Christmas Carol is now cast and rehearsals are underway, and the stage crew is set.

The story is adapted to stage by Michael Shamata, a Canadian playwright who is currently the artistic director at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria. Shamata stays close to the original story Dickens wrote 180 years ago.

"Stephanie and myself have been involved with a similar stage reading before with It's a Wonderful Life," said Stephen. "We did that in front of four live audiences [in the United States] and it was great, people loved it."

Stephen emphasized that the venue is key to the kind of atmosphere they wanted to create for a live audience, and since there are so many actors, a stage reading made sense.

"There is great intimacy [at Forest Bistro]; people can order food and drink and make it like a dinner theatre," said Stephen. "The script reads beautifully; Shamata did a wonderful job with it."

Stephen and Stephanie wanted to put something on for the qathet community during the holiday season, and hope to use the show(s) as a fundraiser to be able to pay the actors. Tickets are available at Forest Bistro and Rocky Mountain Pizza and Bakery.

"We don't make money, and we don't take money for ourselves, but we want to be able to pay the actors, which is important," said Stephen. "We have a full play coming up at the beginning of March, a comedy called Gibson and Sons." 

Written by Canadian playwright Kristen da Silva, the Gibson and Sons production will also feature local actors and crew, March 1, 2, 8 and 9.

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