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<  Special Effects  ~  "How Did They Do That?" - Rigging Ghosts

Russell Blackwood
Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:39 pm Reply with quote
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Here's another article of mine that I thought might be of interest. It's about rigging ghosts for a new production of A Christmas Carol at American Conservatory Theatre and ran in the December '05 issue of Theatre Bay Area magazine:

Reinventing Christmas Future and Past!
by Russell Blackwood

Apparitions have visited Ebenezer Scrooge on the Geary Theater stage every Christmas for the past 29 years. Long before Dickens' 1843 novella had become the old warhorse (or cash cow) of America's regional theatre movement, Dennis Powers and Laird Williamson's stage adaptation of A Christmas Carol revived the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future--and revived Bay Area audiences' holiday spirit. In all, the company has played out Scrooge's night of redemption and transformation nearly 900 times, thus warding off the cynicism and baggage that can creep up during the holidays. But American Conservatory Theater decided that the best way to celebrate the production's 30th anniversary this year was to completely reimagine it, including the ghosts.

"I felt our production should be as dreamlike and fantastical as the book," says co-adaptor (with Paul Walsh) and director Carey Perloff. "Instead of detailing Scrooge's adventure with the ghosts in a conventionally linear structure, we tell his story in a kind of swirling pageant with scenes dotted throughout. The design is in no way realistic, because this is at its core a piece about magic and transformation."

Early one morning just after Halloween, Perloff gathered with members of the company at ACT's scene shop to meet two of Christmas Carol's ghosts. Though neither had yet fully materialized, there was nevertheless spirited communication involving the ghosts of Christmas Future and Past

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