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Guest Blog: Director Ben Horslen On A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Middle Temple Hall

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Guest Blog: Director Ben Horslen On A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Middle Temple Hall
Antic Disposition's A Christmas Carol

Antic Disposition's acclaimed stage adaptation of the Charles Dickens festive classic A Christmas Carol returns to Middle Temple Hall for a fifth season this December. Director Ben Horslen explores the appeal of the endlessly popular tale.

"A national benefit, and to every man or woman who reads it a personal kindness."

That was William Makepeace Thackeray's early verdict on A Christmas Carol, and the frequency with which the story returns to the stage suggests the story's appeal remains undiminished 176 years after its first publication. There is something magical about the combination of Dickens and Christmas that is particularly irresistible.

Or maybe it's the combination of Dickens and London, which is at the heart of our own production. Dickens is synonymous with London. It appears as a setting in every one of his novels, from the seedy back alleys of Oliver Twist to the George pub from Little Dorrit and, of course, the freezing streets of the City in A Christmas Carol.

Dickens particularly loved the Temple, the area between Fleet Street and the Thames where he trained as a lawyer before his writing career blossomed. Many memorable scenes from his novels are set here, and that's one of the reasons we are staging our production here, in the spectacular Elizabethan setting of Middle Temple Hall.

Guest Blog: Director Ben Horslen On A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Middle Temple Hall
Antic Disposition's A Christmas Carol

On a frosty December evening, strolling off Fleet Street and down Middle Temple Lane, breath steaming out like pistol smoke, it's easy to imagine you're walking back through time to the London of 1843. And once inside the Hall, tucking into a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine, there are fewer cosier, more atmospheric places to enjoy a show.

Aside from the location, music is a huge part of the appeal of our production. The tradition of Christmas carols predates the Victorians, of course, but it was the 19th-century publication of affordable books of Christmas music that really cemented carolling as part of the British Christmas. Our production embraces this tradition by setting original words to the tunes of Victorian carols, bringing a comforting sense of familiarity to the score that appeals to audience members of all ages.

Finally, of course, the message behind the story remains necessary and powerful. In a modern Britain where exclusion and inequality remain among the greatest challenges we face as a society, it's hard to argue that the need for Dickens' 'ghost story of Christmas' has much diminished. But it's the genius of Dickens to combine his attack on the heartlessness of a privileged elite with a heart-warming celebration of the enduring power of family, friendship and generosity.

It's this combination that we seek to reproduce in our production. 'A national benefit, and to every man or woman who sees it'? Perhaps that's stretching a point! But a theatrical experience that will entertain, inspire and stir up the spirit of Christmas? We very much hope so. We look forward to seeing you there.

A Christmas Carol will be performed in Middle Temple Hall from 21-30 December. For more information and to book tickets, visit www.achristmascarol.co.uk

Photo credit: Scott Rylander


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