In this blog post, 'Christmas, A Carol' cast member Miriam Waters tells us all about the process of creating the show.
The rehearsal process for Christmas, A Carol has been, like the show itself, chaotically epic - a roller-coaster of highs, lows and complete u-turns all compressed into the space of twelve mad weeks.
We began with a few relaxed sessions finding a dynamic, and exploring our shared identity, who we were as a group. It mattered to all of us that our bond as a team was strong; we knew that the impossible goldilocks spot - not too hot, not too cold - in which we would find our show would be in the heart of that dilemma. Our ideas strayed towards the abstract, as we explored Shakespeare, ghosts, movement sequences, compass points, and pretty much everything under the sun that interested us, including a misleading but intriguing session all about the 80s where we interrogated a real-life 80s survivor in the search for a show. At the end of the day, we had changed tack almost entirely, focusing instead on nostalgia, and from this sprang a series of unusual fairy tales conjured up by the group over the course of a week. As we progressed, we became interested in memory: a town without it, stories rich with it - but still, no show. We hadn't found that vein of ore that we needed to mine and exploit for our piece, though all the while the idea of ghosts haunted us and dogged our footsteps.
We were elbow-deep in our town idea when a member of the group happened to come in one day with a nasty concussion. He has made a full and swift recovery (we are happy to report), but in this insignificant detail we began to find our direction. We watched back our session, analysing it for the essence of what we were trying to create; and the next week, Sam came bouncing in with a solidified version of the issue that had been nagging at all of our minds, for in the background of our various improvisations was a small, diminished figure, hunched over in the audience, holding his head.
We had found our Tim.
In this version of A Christmas Carol we see three worlds: the world of the Cratchit family, a world suffused with decaying Christmas tat and fragile cheer; the Ghost world, a world of impatience, silence, white sheets and fairy lights; and purgatory, an eerie waiting place echoing with the questions that plague the souls of the living, and the confused and often unworldly answers of the dead. Each time we revisit these worlds, something has changed, and it was this aspect of our show that was so hard to pin down in rehearsal. Our blood, sweat and tears went into creating a naturalistic Cratchit world, and once we had found the perfect balance for this core version we hurled ourselves into tearing it apart, warping it into unrecognisable states. Working under time constraints was a test - we had to work quickly, effectively, we had to be versatile, we had to be focused, we had to support and lead by turns - but in pushing ourselves we hope to have created something worthy of an audience's attention, something that makes you think, feel and laugh by turns. This show was a labour of love, perhaps our biggest challenge yet, and we hope you enjoy it.
Christmas, A Carol is on at the Corpus Playroom from Thursday 6 to Saturday 8 December at 7.45pm. Book your tickets at www.adctheatre.com/carol