Monday, November 2, 2015

Inside the Scenic World of "A Christmas Carol"

The cast of the 2013 production of A Christmas Carol. Photo by Jim Cox.
South Coast Repertory’s annual production of A Christmas Carol is a tradition for many families in the Orange County area. For more than three decades, parents and children have come to look forward to the Charles Dickens classic on SCR’s stage. Some parents now were the children who first experienced the wonder of the classic holiday tale. And during the passing decades, the production has had few changes. Hal Landon Jr. has played as Scrooge since its inception, many cast members regularly return over multiple years and the designs have largely remained intact.

Although, some audience members with hawk-like eyes may have noticed a few changes to the set design within the last decade.

Originally designed by Cliff Faulkner in 1980, the set design began to be updated over a five-year period between 2002 and 2007. Scenic designer Tom Buderwitz took on the task of refreshing one section each year from Scrooge’s bedroom to the Cratchit’s House to the proscenium arch.

“I was fortunate that the machine of this design—how it moves and functions—as originally designed by Cliff works really well,” says Buderwitz. “I was then able to focus on the character and details present in each of the individual set elements I was updating. Charles Dickens has long been one of my favorite writers. His descriptions of places and characters are so detailed and evocative. My favorite part has always been trying to make those descriptions come to life with truth.”

These descriptions even extend to the images found around the stage and lining the proscenium. They may have caught your eye, but exactly what are they?

They come from a series of etchings called "Pilgrimage to London" by Gustave Dore. They depict the difficulties of life in early Industrial London during the mid-nineteenth century. Faulkner incorporated them to represent the hardships many of the characters faced during that time. Buderwitz also updated a few of these images during his revision on the design. Find out more about the images and see a gallery of the “Pilgrimage to London.”

Check out the comparison of changes before and after the update:
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