Young Centre and Soulpepper Theatre Present The Word Festival 2012: Charles Dickens Edition, Now thru 12/15


Albert Schultz, General Director of the Young Centre for the Performing Arts and Artistic Director of Soulpepper Theatre Company, previously announced The Word Festival, a celebration of the works of Charles Dickens in the 200th anniversary of his birth. 

The Word Festival lineup features critically acclaimed British actress Miriam Margolyes, performing her award-winning work Dickens' Women, alongside free staged readings, and a live-streamed marathon reading of Dickens' greatest novels, available to view online at Soulpepper Theatre Company will present its classic holiday production of Michael Shamata's adaptation of A Christmas Carol, and special appearances throughout the Festival will be made by the Young Centre City Choir, singing Victorian Christmas carols. The Word Festival is sponsored by BMO Financial Group.

Celebrating the bi-centenary of Charles Dickens, Miriam Margolyes brings her Olivier Award-nominated production to The Word Festival as part of its world tour, in its only Ontario venue. A BAFTA and LA Drama Critics Circle award-winner, Miriam Margolyes (Harry Potter, Romeo + Juliet) portrays over 23 of Dickens' best-loved characters, setting out to discover the man himself, revealing everything from the raucous humour of his characterisations to the darker, more sinister, aspects of his life and work. From Richard Jordan Productions Ltd, in association with Andrew McKinnon and Pleasance, with Toronto's celebrated Peter Tiefenbach on piano, performances of Dickens' Women starring Miriam Margolyes run at 8 p.m. at the Young Centre from Dec. 12 - 15.

The National Theatre of the World's five-time Canadian Comedy Award-winning and internationally acclaimed improvised play series Impromptu Splendor comes to the Young Centre for The Word Festival. Crowd pleasers and wizards of instant theatre, Naomi Snieckus and Matt Baram, with special guests Colin Mochrie and Debra McGrath, unite as a crack team to improvise a never-before-seen play based on audience suggestions, in the style of Charles Dickens. Watch as they create a fresh, artful and provoking spectacle brought to life, through their mastery of spontaneous narrative in a collaborative live experience. Dec. 15, 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Soulpepper Theatre Company brings back its holiday favourite, A Christmas Carol. Follow Joseph Ziegler's Ebenezer Scrooge as he is visited by three ghosts who help him understand the importance of charity in the holiday season. A Christmas Carol is directed by Michael Shamata, and features Kevin Bundy, Daniel Chapman-Smith, Charlotte Dennis, Oliver Dennis, Deborah Drakeford, Matthew Edison, Rhys Fulton-Doyle, Anton Gillis-Adelman, Stephen Guy-McGrath, Maggie Huculak, John Jarvis, Tangara Jones, Sabrina Nardi, Sarah Wilson and Joseph Ziegler. A Christmas Carol runs from Dec. 3 to Dec. 29.

The Word Festival will feature two new, free, staged readings of Dickens' short stories, adapted and directed by Soulpepper members Derek Boyes and Nancy Palk.

The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain
The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain, 1848, is adapted from the fifth and final of Dickens' Christmas novellas. As in A Christmas Carol, the central character is visited by a ghost. This character, Mr. Redlaw, is tortured by memories of sorrow, and considers a ghost's bargain to banish all traces of woe from his life. How would accepting this bargain affect his neighbours, his students, and his world? Dickens' fascination with the growing understanding of the unconscious brain begs the question, did Mr. Redlaw see a ghost or, "did he read it in the fire, one winter night about the twilight time?" Featuring Stephen Guy-McGrath, Michael Hanrahan, Qasim Khan, Andre Sills, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, and William Webster in Director Derek Boyes' new adaptation. Design by Lorenzo Savoini. Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 6 p.m.

The Chimes
(A Goblin Story of Some Bells That Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In)
In September of 1844, Dickens rented a villa in Genoa, Italy. He awoke from a restless dream with tears pouring down his face. He couldn't explain whether it had been a dream or an actual vision, but he knew he had been hearing convent bells. He began writing The Chimes, in which a poor old man, Toby Veck, who waits at his post outside the church door for jobs, is sent visions by the spirits of the church bells. The spirits are described as phantoms, and goblins, the memories of all mortals. On New Year's Eve, they guide him through visions of the possible demise of his own daughter, and he awakes on New Year's Day with a renewed compassion for his fellow man and hope for a better future. This new adaptation will be read by ten actors, starring Kenneth Welsh as Toby Veck, with Zoe Cleland, Michael Hanrahan, Stuart Hughes, Sarah Koehn, Diego Matamoros, Brenda Robins, Michael Simpson, Jim Warren, and Tim Ziegler. Sound Designer Richard Feren brings the chimes to life. Adapted and Directed by Nancy Palk, with Dramaturgy by Toby Malone, and support from Joseph Ziegler. Dec. 12 at 6:15 p.m. and Dec. 14 at 4:15 p.m.

A continuous marathon reading of Dickens' great novels will be live streamed at starting on Dec. 12.

Tickets for Dickens' Women range from $30-$40, $20 for students, (HST and service charge included). Tickets for Impromptu Splendor are $20, $15 for students (HST and service charge included). Tickets for A Christmas Carol range from $22-$68 (plus service charge) and are available by calling the Young Centre box office at 416.866.8666 or by visiting $22 tickets are available for 21-30 year-olds at StagePlay is sponsored by TD Bank Group. The Young Centre for the Performing Arts is located at 50 Tank House Lane, in the Distillery Historic District, Toronto, ON.

The Young Centre for the Performing Arts is an award-winning, multi-venue performing arts facility located in the Distillery Historic District. Anchored by Soulpepper Theatre Company's year round season and George Brown College's Theatre School, the Young Centre is a home for Toronto's leading artists and arts organizations across all performance disciplines. The Young Centre presents the very best in theatre, dance, music and spoken word in a state-of-the-art setting. The Young Centre Resident Artist Program is generously supported by Donna and Gary Slaight.

Soulpepper Theatre Company is an artist-founded, classical repertory theatre company with a three-tiered mandate: to present the world's greatest stories in vital Canadian interpretations; to train a new generation of theatre artists; and to inspire and enrich youth through mentorship and access programs.

Photo: Prudence Upton

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