Sunday, December 18th marks the finale for this year’s The Dickens Project SL, presented by Seanchai library and hosted by Kultivate magazine. And it promises to be a real Dickens of a time!
Throughout the week, Seanchai volunteers and friends have been reading the five staves of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in a specially constructed series of sets representing elements of the the story – Christmas Present, Christmas Past and Christmas Yet To Come / The End Of It All. Along the way there have been a variety of additional events and activities (see my preview , including a chat with the event’s Director, Caledonia Skytower, here).
For the grand finale, commencing at 12:00 noon SLT, on Sunday, December 18th, Seanchai Library will be presenting The Big Read, featuring all five staves of the story over some 3.5 hours. The reading will take place in the Square of Christmas Present, and the audience is invited to attend in suitable period costume, if they wish. You don’t have to stay for the entire performance – although doing so is really worth the time – and the rest of the scenes will be open to explore both before and after the readings.
As a special treat, immediately prior to The Big Read, at 11:00 SLT, there will be an hour of dancing to traditional 17th and 18th Century songs presented by Wald Schriddle. Be sure to get there early for this as well, as the Raglan Shire Tiny Carolers are rumoured to perhaps be making one final, triumphant Wootmas 2016 appearance!
It’s time to kick-off another great week of storytelling live in voice with Seanchai Library – and this week it’s a special week, with the return of a seasonal favourite: The Dickens Project SL.
Now in its fifth season, and as I’ve previewed, the project this year is hosted by Kultivate Magazine at their Water Haven headquarters. Every day this coming week, members of the Library and their friends will offers twice daily readings of the story, generally a stave at a time, live in voice, in surroundings created specially to evoke the settings and feeling of Charles Dickens’ most popular story. Supporting it will be a host of additional activities, with everything culminating on Sunday, December 18th with a marathon reading of the entire novel!
The Dickens Project SL is a unique festival and presentation by Seanchai Library, so take a note of the times below and be sure to hop over to Water Haven and partake of the story, the settings and the fun!
Sunday, December 11th – Stories & Carols
11:00: “Dickens’ Shorts” (Stories that is) with Trolley Trollop
12:30:The Raglan Shire Tiny Carolers – WOOTMAS!
13:00: Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby’s is a Friend of Mine John Morland reads Ray Bradbury’s short story featuring… “Charles Dickens”
14:00: More from the Pages of Charles Dickens- Short Selections with Dubhna Rhiadra and Caledonia Skytower
15:00: A Pickwick Holiday, Bryn Taleweaver shares a festive selection from The Pickwick Papers
Monday, December 12th – Stave One: “Marley’s Ghost”
13:00: VT Torvalar
19:00: Kayden Oconnell
Tuesday, December 13th – Stave Two: “The First of Three Spirits”
14:00: Bryn Taleweaver and Caledonia Skytower
19:00: Faerie Maven-Pralou, and Corwyn Allen
Wednesday, December 14th – Stave Three: “The Second of Three Spirits”
13:00: Eleseren Brianna
19:00: Aoife Lorefield
Thursday, December 15th – Stave Four: “The Last of the Spirits”
13:00: Hanna Hoo and Caledonia Skytower
19:00: Shandon Loring (also presenting Stave Five: “The End of It”)
Friday, December 16th
12:00 noon: MORE DICKENS! A ghost story and a novel selection with VT Torvalar
15:00:Part of Stave Four, & Stave Five“The End of It” – Dubhna Rhiadra and Caledonia Skytower
Saturday, December 17th
11:00:Tour of the Resource Centre and the Story Behind A Christmas Carol at the Community Virtual Library
TBA: Fezziwig’s Ball
Sunday, December 18th – The Finale: THE BIG READ
11:00: Traditional Dances and Music with Wald Schridde – live in Christmas Present Square.
12:00 noon: A CHRISTMAS CAROL – All the words of every stave presented all at once by a cast of voices, presenting in relay. Est 3.5 hours. Live in Christmas Present Square.
All readings and events take place at Water Haven, and all times are SLT. Note that individual programme items may be subject to change or update, so please check with The Dickens Project SLweb page for up-to-date information as the week progresses. Donations offered during the festival will be accepted on behalf of Team diabetes of Second Life, in support of the American Diabetes Association.
Since December of 1843, Charles Dickens’ “Ghostly little book”, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, has never fallen out of favour, or been out of print. Endlessly adapted, its journey of redemption has broad appeal for its secular focus, rather than sacred invocation.
– Caledonia Skytower
These are the words Cale uses to introduce The Dickens Project SL for 2016, and they are a fitting way of opening this preview for what has – very rightly, in my opinion – become a firm Staple of the Second Life Christmas experience – and if you haven’t shared in it yourself, I strongly urge you to do so this year.
Truth be told, a Christmas Carol has always been a part of Seanchai Library’s calendar from the year it was founded. However in 2012, and coinciding with the Dickens Bicentenary Year, Seanchai took the step from reading the story to presenting it in a 360-degree immersive environment designed to visually capture the essence of the novel, within individual staves (chapters) read by Seanchai volunteers over the course of several days, with visitor free to listen to the presentations, and then explore more about the life and times of Charles Dickens.
Since then, The Dickens Project SL has reappeared in Second Life each Christmas, with new opportunities to enjoy the story, new events to share and more opportunities to discover the rich treasure of Dickens’ work, explore the lasting appeal of A Christmas Carol and learn about Victorian England from a literary standpoint.
I’ve followed the project throughout, including the special 2013 virtual / live cross-over performance, featuring artists in Second Life and the physical world. For 2016, it is being hosted by Kultivate Magazine at their headquarters region on Water Haven, where an expanded set has been constructed, offering a broader, more immersive setting for the story, with supporting activities and events. While The festival officially opens to the public on Saturday, December 10th, I was delighted to be able to have a preview tour of the project with Cale, taking the opportunity to talk with her about this year’s presentation.
“The first thing I’d like to emphasize is that the goal of The Dickens Project SL is literary, not documentary,” Cale said as we entered the wintry realm of London in the mid-1800s. “What we’ve built here isn’t intended to be 100% historically accurate; other ventures in the virtual media excel in that. Our aim is to reflect the emotional essence of A Christmas Carol by providing a visual framework for those listening to the story, and which encourages them to explore more of Dickens’ life and times.”
To this end, and making full use of the half region put at their disposal by Kultivate Magazine, Seanchai have built a number of interlinked story and activity areas – Christmas Present, Christmas Past and Christmas Yet To Come / The End of It – where individual staves of the book will be read, Dickens’ writings explored, and entertainments presented. Each has its own look and feel, helping to immerse visitors more deeply in the tale.
“We’ve been able to expand the programme this year,” Cale said. “The opening weekend on December 10th and 11th will feature music events and readings from Dickens’ popular novels short stories and related pieces. Then on Monday, December 12th, we commence reading A Christmas Carol, with two sessions of each stave or staves per day, through until Friday, December 16th.”
The event will be rounded out over the weekend of the 17th and 18th December with more music, the traditional Fezziwig’s Ball and The Big Read – all of the novel over three-and-a-half hours. A marathon it might seem – but one very mush worth hearing!
“In all there will be 20 hours of events during the festival, ” Cale continued. “And the Community Virtual Library has created a Resource Centre to support us, where people can learn more about specific elements of the story: what was Tiny Tim suffering from, for example. We also have teleport portals connecting us to other themed locations in Second Life, such as Get Scrooged, at HKU’s Education Island.” A further addition to the 2016 programme is the Eight Days of Dickens mini-hunt.
The Dickens Project SL is free to attend and explore. The twice daily readings are designed to help reach as wide an SL audience as possible, and will be presented by different volunteers, each giving his or her interpretation of the story and the characters, and visitors are welcome to attend as many readings as they wish. Donations will be accepted on behalf of Team Diabetes of SL throughout the week, to coincide with their Winter Showcase events.
A Christmas Carol is, as Cale noted in the quote opening this article, an enduring, endearing piece; a work of fiction with which we are all familiar; I asked Cale for her thoughts on why this should be. “The core of what makes it so are the words – very precisely chosen, very powerfully arranged words,” she replied. “A lot of what we think of today as ‘traditional’ to this time of the year can be traced back to this work, and Dickens’ own re-imagining of what the holiday could be and mean.”
Saturday, December 12th sees the The Dickens Project re-open its gates for a week-long celebration of Charles Dickens and his work. Centred on A Christmas Carol, which will be read throughout the week by staff and guests of Seanchai Library, the Project features so much more as well.
Originally conceived under the Storyfests SL banner (Storyfests being the special events “spin-off” from Seanchai Library), The Dickens Project was first presented in 2012, as a part of activities being held around the world to mark the 200th anniversary of Charles’ Dickens birth. Over the course of two weeks, thousands of visitors passed through the project’s gates, explored the life and times of Charles Dickens and attended presentations of A Christmas Carol and other works by the author.
In December 2013, The Dickens Project allowed Seanchai Library to further bridge the digital divide when a special reading of A Christmas Carol was held, with Caledonia Skytower, in her alter ego of writer Judith Cullen, narrated the story to an audience attending the Knights of Pythias Temple in Tacoma, Washington States, and to an audience in Second Life. At the same time, Kayden Oconnell and Shandon Loring appeared in-world and also at the Teemple, courtesy of a big screen.After the presentation, the audiences in Second Life and at the Temple were able to interact with one another, with the latter able to learn more about Second Life.
Now firmly established as a part of Seanchai Library’s seasonal calendar, the 2015 edition of The Dickens Project will take place in the Community Virtual Library’s exhibit space. All activities throughout the festival are free to attend, and any donations received will be awarded to the Community Virtual Library: a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, connecting residents with information resources, reference services, and serving as a networking tool for information resource professionals.
Programme of Events
The programme of events for The Dickens Project is given below, all times SLT. For the latest updates and any revisions, please refer to the Seanchai Library’s Dickens Project web page.
Saturday, December 12th – Welcome
“The Story Behind a Christmas Classic”
Sunday, December 13th – Tea-time and Tiny Carolers
Christmas Carols and cheer
The Raglan Shire Tinie Carolers
Tea-time with Mr. Dickens
(Upstairs in the bookshop)
Monday, December 14th – Stave One: Marley’s Ghost
Tuesday, December 15th – Stave Two: The First of Three Spirits
Corwyn Allen and Faerie Maven-Pralou
Wednesday, December 16th – Stave Three: The Second of Three Spirits
Thursday, December 17th – Stave Four: The Last of Three Spirits, and Stave Five: The End of It
TBA Reads Stave Four
Shandon Loring read Stave Five
Friday, December 18th – Trivia and More Tinies!
Peaches, Suemoon and HJ of the Community Virtual Library
Christmas Carols and cheer
The Raglan Shire Tinie Carolers
Fezziwig’s Ball – Saturday, December 19th
Come dressed for Dickens’ times, but be ready to dance and have fun to the voices and music of two contemporary musicians from either side of “the pond”.
From noon through until 14:00 Seanchai Library will be pleased to present to guests at the ball British Songstress Josie Anderton, followed by American Rocker Paul Nowles. A ball not to be missed – so find your best Victorian gowns, your finest Dickensian tailed coats and hats, and come join the festivities!
Sunday, December 20th – The Big Read
Come join the staff and guests of Seanchai Library from 12:00 noon on Sunday, December 20th, as they present A Christmas Carol from beginning to end in a special pre-Christmas reading (estimated duration 3-5 hours, visitors free to drop in and leave as time dictates). Staves will be read in relay.
The Dickens Project is presented in an immersive environment recreating a corner of Dickens’ London. Here, as well as listening to the readings of a Christmas Carol and attending the other special events, visitors can also discover more about Victorian London, learn about the life and times of Charles Dickens and visit many of his works.
Seanchai Library has announced the return of one of their popular seasonal presentations: The Dickens Project.
First presented in 2012 to mark the 200th anniversary of author Charles Dickens’ birth, The Dickens Project is an interactive, immersive event focus on what is probably his most well-known story, A Christmas Carol.
The 9-day festival will commence on Saturday, December 12th and will present over 15 hours of reading from various adaptations of the story, set within a special Victorian environment. Presentations will take place at different times of the day throughout the festival in order to make reading the readings accessible to residents from around the world. Those attending will be invited to tour the set, where they will encounter interactive information on the times and work of Charles Dickens, and a seasonal ball will round-out proceedings at the end of the festival.
There will be no charge for those attending readings, but donations will be accepted on behalf of the Community Virtual Library, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, connecting residents with information resources, reference services, and serving as a networking tool for information resource professionals.
A Christmas Carol has been a seasonal favourite with people from all around the globe since its first publication. It has been serialised, dramatised, and made into numerous films over the decades, and has seen a number of television and radio serialisations. It’s also a story which succeeded purely as a result of Dickens’ own determination: he self published the book.
For an author if his stature at that time, such an act was unheard-of. Yet Dickens did just that. He hired an illustrator and supervised the work, he oversaw the book’s design and consulted on the advertising. His publishers Chapman and Hall, who had demurred on the project, served only as his printers and received a fixed fee from every book sold.
The Dickens Project also has its own uniqueness. In 2013, following the success of the 2012 festival and preceding that of 2013, there was a special performance of a Christmas Carol which crossed the digital and physical world divide. On December 1st 2013, Caledonia Skytower, in her alter ego of writer Judith Cullen, performed before a live audience at the Knights of Pythia Temple in Tacoma, Washington, USA, while on a large screen beside her, fellow presenters Kayden Oconnell and Shandon Loring appeared from within Second Life.
As noted above, this year’s production will take place in a period setting, with members of the Seanchai Library staff also dressed in period costume. In keeping with this, audience members will be invited (but not obliged) to also attend in dress suitable for the wintry setting of the story, and suitable for the Victorian era, to add to the general ambience.
The final schedule for The Dickens Project 2015 has yet to be set, but you can be sure that when it has been, I’ll be providing it through these pages together with SLurls to the event, and may also have some behind-the-scenes photos to hopefully whet appetites!
. . . the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ball-room as you would desire to see upon a winter’s night.
Yes, it’s that special time of year of a very special Second Life Christmas tradition: the telling of Charles Dickens’ popular seasonal tale, A Christmas Carol. And this year, it will be a very special event.
Since its first performance in 2012 by the folk of StoryFest SL, under the title of The Dickens Project, and in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Dickens’ birth, the telling of A Christmas Carol has become something of a very special Christmas event, with readings taking place right across the the holiday period,
For 2014, things will be a little different. Forming a part of Fezziwig’s Ball, which will be held on Sunday, December 21st, commencing at 11:00 SLT, there will be a special reading of A Christmas Carol by the StoryFest SL team, taking place over approximately four hours, and Second Life residents are invited to drop in and listen throughout.
The timetable for the event is as follows (all times are SLT, and from noon onwards, approximate):
11:00 Stave One, “Marley’s Ghost” – Shandon Loring and Caledonia Skytower
Noon: Stave Two, “The First of Three Spirits” – Bhelanna Blaze and John Morland
13:00: Stave Three, “The Second of Three Spirits” – Kayden Oconnell and Aoife Lorefield
14:00: Staves Four & Five, “The Last of the Spirits” & “The End of It” – Corwyn Allen, Freda Frostbite, and Dubhna Rhiadra.
Shortly after the conclusion of Stave Five there will be a very special ball / party, with suitably festive music supplied by Dubhna Rhiadra, and to which all are invited, “put on your dancing shoes and dance like it’s 1843!” (period costumes welcome, but optional!). The ball will celebrate both the festive season, and mark the closing of the StoryFest SL storybook, as the organisers seek to focus more of their time and resources on some exciting new projects and work.
Having attended previous readings of A Christmas Carol by the folk at StoryFest SL, I can state without hesitation that they are always a pleasure to attend. So, if you enjoy this story of grumpy old men, ghosts and redemption, then pour yourself a glass of mulled wine, grab a mince pie or two and hop over to Imagination Island.
On a personal note: as this is the last event that will be held under the StoryFests SL banner, I’d like to offer my thanks to those who have, since 2011, both organised and participated in StoryFest events: StoryFest itself, BOOFest, Bard on the Beach and, of course, The Dickens Project.