Special guest essay by Christopher Bronke
“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”
Imagination has the power to transcend the limits imposed upon life at any time. This is certainly true in 2020. As we head into the holiday season and rethink our beloved and hallowed traditions, it is our imagination as much as any other force in life that will create the blissful backdrop for the once-experienced but now altered merriment of the season.
This transformation through imagination is exactly what we bring to you in this year’s production of A Christmas Carol. This time-honored tradition, annually splashing its vibrant colors across the sacred stage, this year invites you to conjure up the magic of that chilly Christmas Eve, to experience Scrooge’s tender transformation as you see it, as you dream it, as you imagine it.
After a few days of Zoom rehearsals, the cast and crew of this year’s production moved into their new professional homes: individual sound booths situated on ACT’s Falls Theatre stage. With an ear on quality and an eye on safety, Sound Designer Sharath Patel and Director, John Langs paved the way for the magic of ACT’s 45th telling of this majestic production to come to life — inside your imagination.
“An audio drama created the visuals for the audience’s head, as opposed to a movie or a play where the visuals are projected at you,” says Jeff Steitzer, this year’s Scrooge (and former Marley).
And this is exactly our hope this year — to bring this show to life for every aspect of your imagination. The goal is, as returning cast member Arlando Smith (Fred) explains, “To live briefly in a heightened and crystallized world and take that same vision and energy back into the real world once it’s over.”
ACT Core Company member Anne Allgood, A Christmas Carol veteran, and this year’s Mrs. Fezziwig, invites you not just to join us but to create with us. “Each one of us — whether we’ve seen this beloved show at ACT in years past and have visual memories of it or whether we’re listening in to a world we’ve never traveled to before and are seeing it for the first time — will be part of creating this story.”
A movie for your imagination calls upon each of us, cast and patron alike, to lean in and embrace the power of language, to take a break from screens and “social,” to allow ourselves to be wrapped in wonder as our minds and souls craft the set, design the costumes and develop the world in which Dickens’ words and the actors’ voices “haunt their houses pleasantly” — as Dickens’ himself charged us all in his original 1843 novella’s preface. In the words of our very own Tiny Tim, Piper Harden, “Instead of being on stage where everyone can see us, people can use their imagination, just as we do when acting, in this audio production.”
Read the entire essay, available December 1 in a special A Christmas Carol edition of Encore Spotlight.