In 2012, and to mark Dickens Bicentenary Year, Seanchai Library created The Dickens Project, a celebration of the life and times of Charles Dickens, focused around what is perhaps his most popular novel – and one which still resonates with meaning today – A Christmas Carol. Since then the event has evolved and grown over the years, in the process becoming a Second Life Tradition.
Now in its sixth year, The Dickens Project opened its doors on Friday, November 30th bigger and bolder than ever, offering a truly packed programme of activities, including over 40 hours of events and entertainment across four weeks of exploration and storytelling focused on A Christmas Carol.
What’s new this year? There is no short answer to that. In almost every conceivable way, the Project has flourished in the full region format. This year was a team effort – our first real foray into collaborative build creation. We learned a lot, and we are confident people will enjoy the results.
– The Dickens Project director, Caledonia Skytower
Events actually started on November 28th with a preview of Urchins In Dickens’ London – the opportunity for people to discover what it might have been like to live as a poor street urchin in London during Dickens’ time, and to share their experiences. It was followed on November 30th with a special performance by Idle Rogue to mark the official opening of The Dickens Project.
Created by Aoife Lorefield, a Dickens Project co-creator with Caledonia, Urchins In Dickens’ London will be available throughout The Dickens Project 2018 run, and will culminate in a special Urchins Extravaganza on Wednesday, December 26th. Residents of all ages are welcome to participate, and will find information and the Urchins HUD near the main landing point in Dickens Square. Enquiries about Urchins should be directed to Aoife, with additional information available through the link above.
Charles Dickens was ever a champion of children, writing stories about those who were poor and unprotected,” says Lorefield, “His child characters are often triumphant, finding ways to build lives of purpose and sometimes even happiness in a difficult time.
– Aoife Lorefield on Urchins In Dickens’ London
For those who missed the opening performance by Idle Rogue, they will be back on Saturday, December 8th and Saturday, December 15th, as part of a wide-ranging entertainments schedule encompassing music and dance – see the calendar below for more about all the music and dance events. Also participating this year are community contributions led by the Community Virtual Library (CVL) and Ce Soir Arts.
Obviously, the main focus of the month remains the presentations of A Christmas Carol in a variety of adaptations, in sections and in its entirety, and at different times to make the live readings accessible to residents from different parts of the globe. Also, other works from within the author’s vast canon are featured in the weeks leading up to “Carol Week” (December 17th through 23rd), which climaxes in a marathon “Big Read” presentation of A Christmas Carol performed by a relay team of Seanchai staff and storytelling friends, scheduled for Sunday, December 23rd. While throughout the month there will be a number of community-related tours of The Dickens Project region.
As with previous iterations, The Dickens Project for 2018 takes place on a regions designed to recreate various settings from A Christmas Carol, and that incorporates additional elements as well, such as the main events square, and CVL’s Dickens Resource Centre.
The setting can be toured on foot independently of any story readings, while Elite Equestrian have provided horse-drawn carriages for those we would prefer more of a pre-planned tours (and one of the horse may even give visitors a gift!), while a hot air balloon located close to the events square provides the opportunity to see the setting from the air.
Further depth is added to the experience this year via an immersive sound scape created by Dagmar Kohime. simply enable local sounds in your viewer, and you’ll experience sounds of all kinds as you explore the region: a fiddler playing at Fezziwig’s warehouse, the sounds of Nephew Fred’s party guests wafting into the street near his home while the Merchants Alley rings with sound of urchin laughter.
In addition, visitors can pick up the Voices of the Story Path HUD on arrival and hear short selections from A Christmas Carol in locations within the region that correspond to settings from the story.
Nor is Dickens the only focus for storytelling: Wednesday, December 26th will focus on tales with a definite Lovercraftian twist. Again, for details on individual events and times, check the calendar below (all times SLT), and also see The Dickens Project at the Seanchai Library website.
- The Dickens Project (LEA 7, rated: Moderate)