Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Dickens You Say! A Christmas Carol – Conceived & Adapted by P.D. Soinski


P.D. Soinski - Photo by Chuck Everts

By Joe Straw

In these times of ours, no need to be precise, cira 2015, and particularly this holiday time of year, we casually, if not caustically, come upon the human stragglers created from the artistic mind of Charles Dickens.

Escape is fruitless on this early December morning.  Those trapped are the residues of ordinary lives and immediately are identified as human beings who have lived in monetary and emotional squalor.  They move from place to place trying to make the best of the day despite their poverty and persistent cough.

Oh, and let’s not forget that they live in various stages of want.
Still, they have duties to perform. And in doing so they wear the ragged clothes enmeshed in loam. Oftentimes these characters are the dregs of humanity, caught here today – some say - by the victim of their own circumstances.

Amongst those wretched human beings lives a man, Ebenezer Scrooge (P.D. Soinski).  He is impeccably dressed and moving fast to avoid the masses. An unmistakable scowl is plastered on his face.  Those lines permanently etched on his face are by the passing of foul time.  And also engraved, in his forehead, are the contours of his tragedies partially committed by his own making. Something he does not care to admit.  

Scrooge passes these people as if they don’t exist and is quick to avoid them for fear of something jumping from their bodies to his, be it animal or viral.

The Dickens You Say! – Narrator

The International Printing Museum present Dickens Day Celebration produced by Mark Barbour. The Dickens You Say! A Christmas Carol was conceived and adapted by P.D. Soinski.

I had heard there was a theatre at the International Printing Museum for quite some time but really didn’t give it much thought. 

The theatre is slightly off of theatre row, well, Torrance, California to be precise, and one doesn’t usually get out that way. But, I thought, what a great holiday outing for my girls. The Printing Museum is only 22 minutes out of Culver City, next to Alpine Village. It is a jaunt for our carriage, over the river and through the woods.   

It’s interesting to know Mark Barbour sees the validity of theatre to promote the Printing Museum.   After all, when one thinks about it, theatre is an important element and valid endeavor in any capital enterprise to promote a business, non-profit or otherwise.  Oh the entrepreneurial spirit of the man.

That aside, I’m thinking we’re going to have some fun and frivolity here this holiday season and this theatre is going to be an eye opening experience.

On a personal note: I haven’t had this much fun in a long time.

As soon as the doors opened everyone greeted us like we were long lost friends. Mr. Barbour decorated the Museum straight out of the Fessiwig scene in A Christmas Carol. The entire Museum was very festive, with all the clinquant finery, and the characters, showing off the printing machines, were dressed as characters right out of a Dicken’s novel, costumes exquisitely designed by Debbie Bush.  

George Bush (Father Time) and two young patrons of the museum.

Not only that, there were a number of patrons who came dressed in wonderful period costumes just to get into the spirit of the day.  Remarkable!

L - Ken Riedel (Fagin), Keefer Blakeslee (Artful Dodger)

Fagin (Ken Riedel) immediately introduced himself asking me if I wanted to make a purchase of some fine necklaces.  Neglecting to notice the rock from which he crawled out from, I politely informed him that I wasn’t in the market.  Also, Fagin was looking for the Artful Dodger (Keefer Blakeslee) who just happened to arrive on the scene. Mr. Dodger politely asked if he would take my picture, and he did, only to run away with my iphone.  He didn’t get far.

I made a discretionary inquiry to Miss Havisham (Trish Ryan), complete with soiled wedding dress, as to the whereabouts of her husband.  A mistake I regretted immediately. Her response was boisterously brash which cause my embarrassed daughters to ask me what I had done to that poor woman.  Miss Havisham’s consoling adopted daughter Estella (Yasmin Walker) was not far behind.  

Candace Blakeslee (Queen Victoria)

Finding a quite corner, while my daughters were involved in making letterpress printing, I found Queen Victoria (Candice Blakeslee).  She motioned for me to come forward to speak.  I found our discourse to be very uncomfortable (mostly me) but she managed to make me feel right at ease.

Other performers out in the museum were Wilkins Micawber (Peter Hay), Dr. Miles (Dr. Leland Whitson), Uriah Heep (Peter Small), Betsy Trotwood (Debbie Bush) and Father Christmas (George Bush) performing a variety of functions and staying in character all the while.  Captain Jack (Jack Conway) was also there explaining the 1895 Concert Roller Organ. James Steerforth (Mark Barbour), noted for his wit and romantic charm, managed in his best tradition.  

But the highlight of the show was Charles Dickens (P.D. Soinski) performing in the black box theatre in the center of the museum.  Three shows were scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.  Soinski’s wonderful performance touches all the right bases playing Charles Dickens and Ebenezer Scrooge and the presentation becomes interactive at times as he enlists members of the audience to fill out the cast, including myself.  A Christmas Carol, in this one-hour version, highlights the significant moments in the book and it was a day that touched me emotionally as the character Scrooge does.  Also, the singing and playing games added to everything that makes Christmas joyful.

The acting, by professionals, was well above par as they stayed in character throughout their inactions with the museum patrons.  This made for a terrific day.

I haven’t had this much fun in a long time. That said, The International Printing Museum is a grand outing for young and old alike wanting to make this excursion an enlightening and educational experience.

The other upcoming events are as follows:
Franklin’s Electric Birthday Celebration – January 16th, 2016
Kids Krazy Krafts Day – Saturday March 19th, 2016
Independence Day Celebration – Saturday October 1, 2016
Dickens Holiday Celebration December 10th & 11th, 2016

For more information:

The International Printing Museum
315 Torrance Blvd.
Carson, CA  90745

Phone:  310-515-7166

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