[Ed. note: As many of our regular readers know, Dr. Gary Colledge is the author of God and Charles Dickens and consultant on the new play To Begin With. He has also been a good friend to this blog. We greatly appreciate his writing this guest post for us on the development and premiere of the play. --GRD]
Three years ago, my wife and I sat with producer Dennis Babcock in my home discussing the idea of turning Dickens’s The Life Of Our Lord into a one-man play. Dennis shared with us that he had been toying with the possibility of this project for almost 20 years, and through a series of rather extraordinary—maybe even providential?—events, learned that The Life of Our Lord had been at the center of my post-graduate studies. He contacted me for the first time initially by phone, visited me at my home shortly thereafter, and at that meeting asked if I might consider serving as a consultant for the production.
That is why, this past Friday evening, February 20, 2015, I sat with much delight and anticipation in the Music Box Theatre in Minneapolis waiting for the curtain to rise on the premiere of To Begin With, Dennis’s theatrical production about the writing of Dickens’s The Life of Our Lord.
To Begin With -- the play that, as its star Gerald Dickens says, "presents a Dickens that people have not seen before" -- has its preview performance tonight and its premiere tomorrow night at the Music Box Theatre in Minneapolis. Go here and here to read interviews with Gerald, playwright and director Jeffrey Hatcher, and producer Dennis Babcock.
We here at Dickensblog would like to wish them all a very successful opening night!
Tickets are now available for To Begin With, the new play about Dickens's writing of The Life of Our Lord, starring Gerald Dickens.It premieres February 19 at the Music Box Theatre in Minneapolis. If any of you are lucky enough to go, please comment and tell us all about it!
Last year I mentioned that a play about the writing of The Life of Our Lord was in development. The other day, Gary Colledge, who's serving as consultant, wrote to give me an update on the project.
The title of the play is To Begin With. It's being written by Jeffrey Hatcher and produced by Dennis Babcock. And Gerald Dickens, who has spent so much time portraying his ancestor in one-man shows and who participated in several staged readings of this play in London, will star in the U.S. production. They hope to open in Minneapolis, "perhaps as early as February 2015."
Below is a short synopsis from a draft of a brochure that Gary sent:
"I have always striven in my writings to express veneration for the life and lessons of Our Saviour, because I feel it; and because I rewrote that history for my children every one of whom knew it from having it repeated to them long before they could read, and almost as soon as they could speak."
Charles Dickens, letter to John M. Makeham, June 8, 1870
Often on Good Friday, I try to find and run an applicable quote from Dickens's The Life of Our Lord. This year, the sentence below caught my eye. I think the parenthetical remark in particular is very typical of Dickens -- of what he valued, and what attracted him to Christianity.
"Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified; and they, shouting and gathering round Him, and treating Him (who still prayed for them to God) with cruelty and insult, took Him away."
Gerald Dickens is participating in what sounds like a delightful project: a play about the writing of The Life of Our Lord. Jeffrey Hatcher (The Duchess) is the writer, and Dr. Gary Colledge, writer of God and Charles Dickensand a friend of this blog, is serving as a consultant.
A staged reading was recently done at The Kilns, home of C. S. Lewis (which is extra delightful to me, since I love Lewis as much as I love Dickens!). Gerald Dickens reports on the project on his blog. I truly hope one day I get to see this.