| 03.24.2018

A new direction for Dickens


Production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ takes Dickens in a new direction

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is a classic that cannot be bound to the form of literature alone, said Ann Hoste, University of Idaho professor of costume design and artistic director for Idaho Repertory Theatre.

“Dickens writes so vividly, it’s hard not to imagine what it would look like on stage,” Hoste said.

Brenda Ely | Argonaut Cast members from

Brenda Ely | Argonaut
Cast members from “A Christmas Carol” rehearse the show Monday. Performances will be held 7:30 p.m. this Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Hartung Theater. The show will continue at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11-13 and 18-20, and 2 p.m. Dec 14.

Hoste wrote the script adaptation for the Department of Theatre Arts’ production of “A Christmas Carol,” which began Thursday at the Hartung Theater.

The live production featuring UI students and community members will continue throughout the month. Performances will be held 7:30 p.m. this Friday and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The show will continue 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11-13 and 18-20, and 2 p.m. Dec 14. UI students can attend the show for free with a valid student ID, and UI faculty and staff tickets are $5. General admission is $15, and children 12 and under can also attend for free.

Director and UI Professor of Performance David Lee-Painter said although the iconic narrative of a Christmas curmudgeon has been adapted for the stage many times before, this year’s theater performance will bring a fresh new perspective to the play.

“This is the second year that we will be performing the play so the costumes and the scenery will be similar,” Lee-Painter said. “But virtually the performance as a whole is very different.”

Differences in this year’s production include a new cast, with returning members playing different roles, more music and even the incorporation of puppets.

“Last year’s Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was a giant puppet … about 12 feet tall,” Lee-Painter said. “There was an interest in having all of the ghosts be puppets, but last year we didn’t come to that conclusion soon enough to make it happen. Luckily, due to the expertise in our student body and design team, this year we were able to turn the other ghosts into puppets as well.”

In addition to puppets, Hoste developed a supplementary character during the script adaptation process.

“I have great admiration for Dickens and during the process it was important to me that the adaptation be his voice and not my voice,” she said.

The new character incorporated into the play is a Master of Ceremonies, who acts as an expository narrator throughout the play.

Brenda Ely | Argonaut

Brenda Ely | Argonaut

“Dickens’ narrative is so delightful that I didn’t want to sacrifice that element,” Hoste said. “Instead I found a way to weave the narrative into more dramatic scenes.”

The UI involvement with “A Christmas Carol” originally began as a small stage reading session put on by a handful of students for the Idaho Repertory Theatre, Hoste said.

“Last year we staged it for the first time, and this year the process is all about refining and improving upon the play,” Hoste said.

Hannah Beehler, UI student and stage director for “A Christmas Carol,” said refining the production has also involved tremendous collaboration between various departments.

“This is a huge play and there are a lot of people involved in it,” she said, “There are so many aspects to keep track of.”

Ginger Sorenson, the Theatre Department’s costume shop manager, said preparation for the performance has been thorough and extensive.

“We started preparation for this production pretty much as soon as the last show was done,” Sorenson said.

The preparation included design creation, fittings and making costumes, puppets and other props.

“It’s a long process and a big commitment,” Lee-Painter said. “But when we put the time and attention in so that … it all comes together at the same rate and turns into something that is both a training opportunity for students and a great gift to the community.”

Corrin Bond can be reached atarg-news@uidaho.edu

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