American Conservatory TheatreMERRY CHRISTMAS! As always it’s hard to believe a whole year has gone by since the conclusion of Balladeer’s Blog’s previous Christmas Carol-A-Thon. This Fourth annual affair comes to a close with a look at the American Conservatory Theatre’s 1981 version, titled simply A Christmas Carol.

This is a filmed presentation of the stage play by San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre and originally aired December 21st, 1981 on the Arts Channel. The adaptation was by Dennis Powers and Laird Williamson and starred William Patterson as Ebenezer Scrooge. The only real mistake this Carol makes is that it’s one of those versions that reads WAY too much into Scrooge’s relationship with his father, even making up beatings that are never mentioned in the Dickens original. Other than that this production features some very nice touches.

During the Christmas Past segment Young Scrooge (Thomas Harrison) and Belle (Janice Hutchens) are ice-skating under starlit skies while having their breakup scene, which livens up this often tedious bit of business. When the Ghost of Christmas Present (Lawrence Hecht) shows Scrooge the monstrous children Ignorance and Want the spirit’s already emotion-charged dialogue is amped up even more by a clever insertion of lines from Dickens’ story The Haunted Man. Indicating the feral boy Ignorance the ghost’s additional dialogue goes: “Mark me. From every seed of evil in that boy a field of ruin shall grow that shall be gathered in and garnered up and sown again in many places til all the Earth is overrun with bitter strife.”

And while we’re on the subject of the boy and girl called Ignorance and Want I’ll take this opportunity to address the way in which the perpetual fighting between Liberals and Conservatives even spills over to A Christmas Carol. American Liberals, who are every bit as pompously convinced that they are THE moral models for the rest of us as the worst Christian Conservatives are, often try to exploit the appearance of Ignorance and Want by claiming that portion of the Carol condemns Conservatives alone.

Typically, the self-satisfied American Left doesn’t get the part that applies to them. Among the Ghost of Christmas Present’s lines about Ignorance and Want are the words “Deny it! Slander those that tell it ye”, which apply to Conservative downplaying of the human suffering caused by poverty and their tendency to dismiss people as “bleeding hearts” if they dwell on that suffering. The ghost’s next words “Admit it for your factious purposes and make it worse” apply to Liberals and the way they pay lip service to caring about “the poor” strictly for political purposes, demagoguing their way into office by pretending they and only they care about combatting poverty and ignorance. You’ll notice, however, that financially comfortable Liberals are as snobbish and callous toward the actual working class as the wealthiest Conservatives are. And their political exploitation of the poor often makes their plight worse.

Plus Liberals often try to pretend that Jacob Marley is supposed to be a negative Jewish sterotype even though the novel specifically says he’s a Christian like Scrooge. Certainly Dickens’ depiction of Fagin in Oliver Twist was a derogatory Jewish caricature so feel free to pile on him for that but the PC police are just being their usual self-serving, hyper-sensitive selves when they claim Marley is a Jew.

In the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come segment that spirit (Nicholas Kaledin) shows Scrooge Tiny Tim’s actual funeral in a scene unique to this stage adaptation. The scene incorporates lines from Dickens’ The Life of Our Lord, specifically the part about an innocent child being “the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven” on through “the Angels are all children.”

Kaledin does double-duty as Nephew Fred, Raye Birk portrays Marley’s Ghost and Thomas Oglesby rounds out the major roles as the Ghost of Christmas Past. Overall this is far superior to the Guthrie Theatre’s televised stage version from 1982 and even to the 1984 Kent State version.

This brings the 2013 Christmas Carol-A-Thon to a close! Be here for the 2014 Carol-A-Thon which will kick off on the Friday after Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas and thanks for reading!

FOR DOZENS MORE VERSIONS OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/a-christmas-carol-2/

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 



10 responses to “A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1981): CAROL-A-THON 2013 CONCLUDES

  1. Can’t wait til next year! Loved ur take putting liberal assholes in their place!

  2. Lots of fun! Sorry to see this end for 2013!

  3. Incredible collection of posts about A Christmas Carol

  4. Pingback: kensington square

  5. Jeff Sanzel

    I have just come across your CHRISTMAS CAROL blog and it is quite fascinating and well-written. I actually have various rare and unusual versions and would love the opportunity to communicate with you about these. I can be reached at Scrooooge@aol.com

  6. Garrett Kieran

    I don’t have a problem with an occasional adaptation digging deep into Scrooge’s past to determine what made him the way he is. It was done very effectively in the Alistair Sim and George C. Scott. The appearance of his father in the latter is rather similar to what apparently happens in this version. I know his father doesn’t appear here, but the similarities are there. And from what I read about it in Guida’s book, the dialogue sounds very compelling. Also, I’ve seen a photo from the movie, and Paterson is one of the few Scrooges with facial hair.

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