Today is Christmas, so I decided to start my blog with a post on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I started reading the book last weekend, although I have seen both professional and university performances of the story. Storytelling can take a variety of forms. And the telling of A Christmas Carol is no exception. The story has been retold through plays, live-action films, animated films, operas, and ballets. After reading the book, I can understand why.
Dickens’ work lends itself to performance. Ebenezer Scrooge literally watches scenes after scenes of his past, present, and future. Like the spectator of a play, Scrooge witnesses the unfurling of a story. Indeed, A Christmas Carol often reads as a screen play rather than a novella. Dickens offers an in-depth description of such scenes as the Cratchit dinner, Scrooge’s nephew’s Christmas party, the burying of Tiny Tim, etc., but places little emphasis on what cannot be seen (the characters’ emotions, Scrooge’s internal conflicts, etc.). What cannot be seen is inferred rather than thoroughly explored. The most appropriate medium for such storytelling is performance.