By Pawit Mahasarinand
Special to The Nation
THAILAND’S LONGEST running English-language theatre group, Bangkok Community Theatre (BCT), has been prolific this year, even managing to set the record for number of productions. Its “Circle Mirror Transformation” wrapped just two weeks ago and now BCT is back, ready to launch a new production of “A Christmas Carol”.
Says director of this production Michael J Allman: “A theatre company was thriving in a farming community. When the artistic director was asked why they were doing so well in this setting he said, ‘I think it’s because we understand each other. We both know that you plant a seed and see what happens. Sometimes you have a great crop and sometimes, the crop is not so good, but you keep on planting’. This year BCT is having a great crop.”
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Naomi Bactol) shows Scrooge (Ethan Oulton) what his life will be like if he does not change his ways.
BCT veteran and producer of this new production Don Harrelson adds: “‘A Christmas Carol’ was staged in 2007 at the AUA auditorium with a cast of 23. It was a big production and very successful for the BCT. I both directed and produced that show. This year’s production is very different.”
Allman nods his agreement, explaining: “I wanted to do a version that stuck close to the original story. Sometimes we get the feeling that Christmas has become far too commercial and that we see Scrooge and the rest of the characters every time we turn around. It can feel a bit cliched and hackneyed.
“For me ‘A Christmas Carol’ is about our community and how we treat our ‘fellow passengers to the grave’ as Dickens puts it. I feel we all carry a spark of the divine in us. This is a story about how one man, whose light is hidden under layers of fear and grief, is helped by spirits and his friends to re-ignite that spark and to see that light in the world around him.
Mr and Mrs Fezziwig (Mark Peterson and Hannah Davis) enjoy their Christmas party.
“I found a script that was written for six actors and a musician. I like working with a cast between six and 10 people—[big] enough so that the actors don’t have a huge amount of lines to learn, but small enough that they can get comfortable with their fellow actors’ working methods,” Allman continues.
“Ethan Oulton plays Scrooge and the other five actors – Naomi Bactol, Mark Peterson, Peter Dee, Hannah Davis and Rebecca Shatford – play all the other characters and voice the narration. Nearly the entire script is taken from the original story in a style very much like Paul Sills’ ‘Story Theatre’, with the actors acting out the narration as they speak it.”
“The actors have brought so many ideas to the process and have really entered into the spirit of the show. The setting is minimal, leaving a lot to the imagination, but we hope there is still enough to make it interesting to the audience.”
BCT is back at Creative Industries again, after “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” a few months ago, and Allman says: “We really do have a wonderful relationship with Creative Industries. Much of that has to do with Don who’s worked with them on many shows.”
“It seems to be the right size for the productions we’ve been doing, has a great store of equipment and is in a good location. I like to use the space with the audience on three sides, but it’s great that other directors can choose to do proscenium-style productions there as well.”
BCT’s “A Christmas Carol” is at Creative Industries, on the second floor of M Theatre on New Phetchaburi Road between Thonglor and Ekamai on December 1, 2, 8 and 9 at 7.30pm, with a 2pm matinee on Saturdays.
The play is in English and recommended for audiences 10 years old or above.
Tickets are Bt800, available now at www.BangkokCommunityTheatre.com or by email Info@BangkokCommunityTheatre.com.