Jim Floyd brings Ebenezer Scrooge to life at The Players Centre for Performing Arts. He did the same for us in a spirited conversation.
The Players Centre for Performing Arts will be staging Greg Bodine’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” on Dec. 22 and 23.
It’s a benefit performance and a one-person show.
Jim Floyd will star as Ebenezer Scrooge — and 19 other characters.
That’s plenty of roles for one actor to play — and only a fraction of the author’s fictional creations. Dickens’ fertile imagination could populate a small town. More impressively, his people don’t feel like the figments of a writer’s imagination. They feel real.
Ebenezer Scrooge, especially. Which got us to thinking.
Imagine you could go back in time and talk to Scrooge. We did. Floyd did too — and stayed in character as the famous curmudgeonly miser. The following improvised dialogue is the result. (We spoke between ghosts to avoid confusion.)
Some of our chat is humbug; the rest is enlightening.
We’ll leave it to you to decide which is which.
1843. Scrooge residence, London, England. Jacob Marley visitation. Post-ghost interview.
Ebenezer Scrooge, I presume?
Yes. Who the devil are you? Another ghost?
I’m a writer. From the future.
Let’s stick with that.
How do you know my name?
Long story short … a writer named Charles Dickens wrote this book called “A Christmas Carol.” He …
It sounds like a song.
Well, it’s a book. It’s your story, OK? The story of what will happen to you tonight. That’s how I know.
Dickens … right! That nosy scribbler at the pub with the notebook … blast! He wrote everything down!
Well, not everything. He was kind of vague about certain details. That’s why I’m here.
Oh, no. Ecch! You’ve got a notebook, too!
Yep. So, uh … How would you describe your day?
Irritating, to say the least. It’s “Christmas Eve,” gahh. People kept bothering me, inviting me to dinners and parties. Or constantly begging for money. “Merry Christmas this, help the poor that.” Humbug! And did I mention the songs?
“Fa-la-la!” Eggh. Incessant carols, all day long. It got on my nerves. At the end of the day, I came back home and shut the door. Thought I’d have a little peace and quiet. But no…
According to Dickens, Jacob Marley appeared.
Yes, so he did. And I wish you’d disappear.
How did you feel when your former business partner showed up in your house rattling chains and all that? That must’ve been traumatic.
Considering that the man’s been dead for seven years, yes. It was quite unnerving.
What did Marley say?
Mmm … Mostly complaints, initially.
“I am doomed to wander! Woe is me!” That sort of thing.
Then, eventually, he warned me: “Three spirits will visit you this evening!” For what reason? Ah. In order to guide me, teach me and help me change my ways. I have no idea why I should, but that’s what he said.
Are you worried?
No. The prospect doesn’t worry me at all. I initially thought Marley’s specter to be a figment of the mind induced by a stomach disorder. I now return to that hypothesis. Marley’s visit? Humbug! A bad dream, sir. Just like you.
You say so. I’ll touch base after your next ghostly visit.
No, you won’t. Good evening, sir. And good riddance!
Spirit of Christmas Past. Post-ghost interview.
I’m back! And if my timing is accurate, you’ve just had a visit from the Spirit of Christmas Past. What was that like?
Unsettling … to say the least.
This chap … or lady, I’m not really sure. But they took me back to my past, as his or her name implies. The spirit showed me …
Well, my younger self. Ruddy cheeks, broad shoulders, strength of youth and all that. I got to see my old employer Fezziwig and my fellow apprentices. The spirit also showed me Belle, my old love. It was nice to see her again.
I was deeply touched — and that never, ever happens to me! Some sort of fluid actually began leaking from my eyes. I’m not the sentimental type, sir. But that cheeky spirit apparently wanted to turn me into one.
Ah. In our time, we call that, “Getting in touch with your feelings.”
Why on earth would I want to do that? In my time, I call that impertinence, sir! At the moment, I 'feel' like being alone. Get in touch with that.
Spirit of Christmas Present. Post-ghost interview.
You again? Ugh.
Me again. Let’s talk about the Spirit of Christmas Past. What was he like?
Resembled Father Christmas a bit. A very large gentleman. He brought a great deal of food. Pies, turkeys, puddings, cakes … Over the years, I’ve successfully avoided scores of dinners and parties. It’s as this phantom brought all the food I’d avoided in one sickening clump.
You skipped the party. So the party came to you …
I didn’t touch a bite. What I did was go flying around London and spying on people. I witnessed my clerk, Bob Cratchit, and his family. I also visited my idiot nephew, Fred, and his bit of fluff. And it was one feast after another!
They were all quite mad about the Christmas season. I do not share their enthusiasm, sir. But in spite of my self … I felt left out, alone and miserable. I "got in touch" with that feeling and I didn’t like it at all. I’ve resisted this "Merry Christmas" folly for years. Tonight, I felt its pull. It seemed that with one act of will I could join into the folly. Like jumping into a pool.
The Spirits are going to a lot of trouble to change your mind about Christmas.
Yes. And that’s what worries me.
Are you looking forward to the next spectral visit?
No, sir. I’d look forward to counting my compound interest and falling into a dreamless sleep. I seriously doubt that’s going to happen.
You don’t blame the visitations on an undigested potato?
Not any more. I know that, one day, I shall die. I also know that the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come will visit me tonight. My knowledge is dead certain in both cases. And in either case, the knowledge fills me with dread.
Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come. Post-ghost interview.
Oh, you again! Hello! Merry Christmas, sir!
Wow, you’re actually in a good mood.
Why not, sir? It’s Christmas Day! I’m awake and alive and excited to start a fresh new life!
Oh, I get it. The Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come has come and gone?
Yes, and no. The Spirit of Christmas now lives in my heart, sir. (leaning out window) Come back in less than five minutes and I’ll give you half-a-crown!
Why were you hollering at that kid in the street?
I wasn’t “hollering!" ... I was ordering a turkey from him!
No, sir! For the Cratchits! I’m a giver now. It’s going to be such a surprise. Ha! Would you like a turkey?
No thanks. It’s back to the future for me.
Very well, good sir. Goodbye to you, then. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! And Happy Hanukkah as well!
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