The first cast meeting for "A Christmas Carol" was earlier tonight, in the brand new venue for the Full Circle Theater Company. Though some were absent, it all went quite well.
To begin with, the new venue seems to be an old art gallery of some sort. Walls are to be torn down, doors to be installed, etc. But it is a very nice building that will suit our purposes very well.
I play 6 different characters in this ensemble piece. I find I am already enjoying the challenge of this. Finding different voices, different facial expressions, different overall tones for each of these characters. (Without falling into some common stereotypes for these characters.) There is no to perfectly attain 6 separate authentic British accents, but it is important to me to make each voice, if not each accent distinct. Given that tonight was my first attempt at doing it, I feel I did fairly well.
Each person plays a "base" character...someone who is present at the home of Charles Dickens for a Christmas Eve party. These guests, in turn, portray different characters from the novel, under the direction of Charles Dickens himself.
My base character is real life Dickens friend, the painter Clarkson Stanfield. I found that not only do the characters he plays suit him, he, and all of his characters, suit my quite nicely. We are about the same age, and he is described as both mischievous and gentle. Both very much Ty qualities. I would have enjoyed any of the roles, of course, but I have determined that this one is probably the best fit for me at this exact time. I d in turn all of the very famous (to us) roles that he will bring to life in the play within a play.
A question was brought up tonight, as to how much of our base characters should shine through during the "Christmas Carol" portions of the show. This could go one of two ways, of course, with some room in the middle. We could either present it as though our characters were well aware of their limitations as performers, where the personalities of the guests shine through based on how they portray the characters. Or we could proceed as though our base characters were putting on an actual play...ignoring, as much as they can, their own personalities, and making every effort to assume the 4th wall during the Christmas Carol segments. (Which are about 85% of the play.)
Right now, the director has not made that decision. She told us that she leans more towards allowing some of the base characters to come out, but she also cautioned that she does not want this to become a full out winking audience participation situation either. She went on to add that alot will be determined by future rehearsals, and what our performance space will be like.
I can see both ways as being viable. As for me personally, I would prefer to have "Stanfield" disappear as much as possible when the Christmas Carol parts are being presented. But that is merely one actor's opinion on the situation, and naturally, it will be a fun play to be in, regardless of what the final place on that spectrum ends up being.
All things being equal, Saturday will mark the first time in my career that I will rehearse two plays in one day. It will be an interesting week. I look forward to all of it.