Cape Town City Ballet presents a sumptuous production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL – THE STORY OF SCROOGE that’s perfect holiday entertainment for the whole family! The production will be presented at Artscape Theatre from 14 to 24 December. This special Dickens treat for all ages, is a timeless classic story of the triumph of joy and the human spirit over greed. An enchanting dance delight, A CHRISTMAS CAROL – THE STORY OF SCROOGE has been restaged by South African dance doyenne Veronica Paeper and features lighting design by Wilhem Disbergen. The production was created in 1982 and has not been seen for over 20 years.
Stepping into the shoes of Ebenezer Scrooge is the highly regarded performer Marcel Meyer. Meyer shares some insight about his involvement in this enchanting production and his love for ballet, in answering these festive theatre questions:
1. Have you always had a love for the art of ballet? Do you remember the first ballet performance you ever saw?
Yes, I have always loved ballet. As a very small child I remember being mesmerised by the beauty of classical ballet when I saw Swan Lake and Giselle screened on television. A few years later, at the age of 12, I attended my first live performance of a ballet, PACT Ballet’s exquisite production of Fredrick Ashton’s perianal masterpiece La Fille Mal Gardée at the State Theatre in Pretoria with two guest stars from The Royal Ballet in London. To this day La Fille remains one of my favourite ballets, with its charming pastoral setting and score, whimsical plot and inventive choreography (with a plethora of ribbons) by Mr Ashton.
2. What is your favourite festive season tradition?
Watching or listening to Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.
3. Do you have a favourite memory of seeing or reading A Christmas Carol?
I have always been a huge fan of Charles Dickens’ writing. He is one of the greatest storytellers of all time. A Christmas Carol was my Standard 6 (Grade 8) English Set-work at Pro Arte, the High School for the Performing Arts in Pretoria. It was wonderful to be able to study the novella in such detail.
4. Over the years Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has been reworked many a time into television, movie, and stage productions. As you’ll be playing Scrooge in the Cape Town City Ballet's upcoming production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL – THE STORY OF SCROOGE, do you have a favourite Scrooge performance/performer that you look to for inspiration?
My last encounter with Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was in 2013 when I designed the costumes for Lara Foot’s adaptation, Scrooge at the Baxter Theatre with Marc Lottering in the title role. It is great to be revisiting the material again – this time as a performer.
5. This is your first role in a professional ballet, since playing Doctor Coppelius in a student production of Coppélia. Have you always dreamed of performing along with the Caoe Town City Ballet?
Yes, I have always admired the work of Cape Town City Ballet. It is also a great honour working for one of the oldest arts organizations in the country –to be a part of that wonderful history and tradition. I had always imagined if a collaboration with Cape Town City Ballet became a reality it would be in my capacity as a designer, so it is even more thrilling to be working for the company as a performer.
6. To what extent is your Scrooge character incorporated in the choreography for this restaging of this classic A CHRISTMAS CAROL – THE STORY OF SCROOGE? Do you have any classical ballet training?
The character of Scrooge hardly ever leaves the stage in Veronica Paeper’s masterful adaptation –the role demands a great deal of focus and concentration– every moment has to be kept alive and present. Although I majored in Dramatic Art at Pro Arte, I did the occasional ballet class with the Ballet Department at the school. During my 4 years at Pretoria Technicon I majored in Musical Theatre and there I received ballet training from Vicki Karras, Gillian Joubert and Ken Yeatman as part of the Musical Theatre course.
7. Tell us about your process: How do you generally approach the characters you bring to stage when preparing for a role?
Playing the truth of every moment –from one moment to the next.
8. As ballet is all about sharing a story through dance in the absence of words, is there any specific character traits you will highlight in your Scrooge performance to best portray his personal and emotional journey?
The ballet is brilliantly structured and conceived by Veronica. She is a master storyteller in dance and working with her has been truly inspiring. Her belief that story is more import than steps is what makes her ballets so popular and lasting. Veronica’s narrative ballets are pieces of theatre more than dance –not to discredit her talent as choreographer and dance-maker, as her choreography and patterning is always breathtakingly beautiful, complex and layered– and when thrilling choreography, combines with beautiful designs, score and a strong narrative the end result is always an unforgettable experience for audiences and performers alike.
9. What is your favourite moment in Scrooge’s journey? What about that moment speaks to you?
It’s so hard to choose a single moment. There are so many highlights in this ballet. The combination of Dickens’ original narrative and Veronica’s inspired adaptation of it makes every moment in this ballet rich, textured and interesting to play.
10. Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was first published in 1843 and has continued to enchant people over the years. What about its narrative resonates with people to such a degree that its magic still captures heart and imagination almost 180 years later?
At its heart A Christmas Carol is a story about redemption (being afforded the opportunity to realise you have made the wrong decisions in your life) and then being given second chance (not only to change yourself but also to help make the world you live in a better place). A Christmas Carol so beautifully illustrates the heart-warming message that the greatest gift is to give.
You can see Marcel Meyer as Scrooge in the Cape Town City Ballet presented A CHRISTMAS CAROL – THE STORY OF SCROOGE at the Artscape Theatre from 14 to 24 December 2019, just in time to get you and the family in a great holiday mood. Tickets are available online through Computicket. Performances on 24 December includes Fairy and Prince Fancy Dress Parade after each performance.