Previewing the Dickens Project 2017 in Second Life

The Dickens Project 2017 Edition

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.

In 2017, to mark the its fifth anniversary, The Dickens Project will open its doors on Saturday, November 25th, 2017, and run through until Saturday, December 30th, 2017 in a region-wide immersive environment, where visitors can trace Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey, from his place of business, to his home, and onward through his travels with the Ghosts of Christmas to the end of his story. There are also numerous opportunities to learn more about Charles Dickens, his works, the popularity of A Christmas Carol down through the years and – of course – hear the story itself through a series of readings by the Seanchai Library and friends.

The Dickens Project 2017 Edition: A famous place of business

However, there will also be so much more going on over the course of the five weeks, with weekly DJ sessions, stage performances by Guerilla Burlesque, and Misfit Dance & Performance Art, and tours of the experience. For those who prefer to ride rather than walk, there is a carriage ride around the region, pulled by a magnificent shire horse, and balloon rides for a heady Victorian experience in what is designed to be an inspirational build evoking the spirit of A Christmas Carol.

“Every year we learn something new,” said Seanchai Lead Caledonia Skytower in reference to the event, “Something fresh from the text, and something new in how we present it. Our vision has always been to guide our audiences ‘in the steps of Ebenezer Scrooge’ using Dickens words framed by a themed environment, like walking through a live picture book.”

The Dickens Project 2017 Edition

The 2017 Edition will include multiple 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. Other works from within the author’s vast canon are featured in the weeks leading up to “Carol Week” (Monday December 11th, through to Sunday December 17th), 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 17th. There is also an interactive information centre on the times and work of Charles Dickens, designed by the Community Virtual Library.

In 1843 Charles Dickens prefaced his about-to-be classic tale with these words: “I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.” He began the novella in October, completed it in less than six weeks. It went on to become the most successful book of the 1843 holiday season, selling six thousand copies by Christmas and continuing to be popular into the new year.

The Dickens Project 2017 Edition: Christmas Present

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.

For full details of the schedule of events for The Dickens Project, please refer to the Seanchai Library blog. In the meantime, I’m reproducing the outlines summary as it stood at the time of writing this preview.

November 2017

  • Saturday, November 25th: Opening Day.
  • Sunday, November 26th:
    • 13:00 – Tea Time with Charles Dickens.
    • 14:00-16:00 – Dancing in “Christmas Past” with DJ Dano Bookmite.

December 2017

  • Friday, December 1st, 20:00: Guerilla Burlesque Show in Dickens Square*
  • Sunday December 3rd:
    • 11:00 – Wald Schridde Live at the Docks – Sea Shanties.
    • 12:00 – ACRL Virtual World Interest Group Tour.
    • 13:00 – Tea Time with Charles Dickens.
    • 14:00-16:00 – Dancing in “Christmas Present” with DJ Dano Bookmite.
  • Tuesday, December 5th,  12:00 noon – Russell Eponym – Music Poetry, and Stories.
  • Friday, December 8th:
    • 09:00 – The NonProfit Commons Group Tour of the Dickens Resource Centre.
    • 20:00 – Guerilla Burlesque Show in Dickens Square*.
  • Sunday, December 10th, 13:00:  Tea Time with Charles Dickens.

Carol Week, December 11th-17th

  • Monday, December 11th, 14:00 and 19:00: Stave One: Marley’s Ghost.
  • Tuesday, December 12th, 14:00 and 19:00: Stave Two: The First of Three Ghosts.
  • Wednesday, December 13th, 14:00 and 19:00: Stave Three: The Second of Three Ghosts.
  • Thursday,  December 14th, 14:00 and 19:00: Stave Four: The Last of the Spirits.
  • Friday, December 15th:
    • 15:00 – 90 Minute A Christmas Carol
    • 19:00 – Misfit Dance & Performance Art*
  • Saturday, December 16th:
    • 12:00 Noon – Misfit Dance & Performance Art*
    • 14:00-16:00 – Fezziwig’s Ball in “Christmas Past” With DJ Dano Bookmite.
  • Sunday, December 17th:
    • 11:00 – Wald Schridde live in Dickens Square.
    • 12:00-15:30 – The Big Read in Dickens Square.

Christmas Week

  • Wednesday, December 20th, 19:00: Community Virtual Library Tour
  • Friday, December 22nd, 12:00 Noon: 90 Minute A Christmas Carol Story Tour
  • Thursday, December 30th – CLOSING DAY:
    • 13:00 – Josie Anderton, LIVE
    • 14:00-16:00 – The Last Dance with DJ Gabrielle Riel
    • 20:00 – Guerilla Burlesque Show in Dickens Square*

* For these large stage performances, please arrive early to grab a seat and let your cache  load.  Music will be playing for your enjoyment during these pre-show times.

Related Links

A Dickens of a day in Second Life!

Christmas Past, The Dickens Project SL, 2016
Christmas Past, The Dickens Project SL, 2016

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).

The Old Docks, The Dickens Project SL, 2016
The Old Docks, The Dickens Project SL, 2016

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!

The Dickens Project SL, 2016
The Dickens Project SL, 2016

The Dickens Project SL is free to attend, but donations are gratefully accepted on behalf of Team Diabetes of SL and the American Diabetes Association.

SL  Details

Seanchai Library presents the ghosts of Christmas in Second Life

The Dickens Project SL 2016
The Dickens Project SL 2016

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 SL web 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.

Previewing the Dickens Project for 2016 in Second Life

posterSince 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.

The Dickens Project SL 2016
Christmas Past, The Dickens Project SL, 2016

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.”

Caledonia Skytower, Shandon Loring (centre) and Kayden Oconnell in an evocative shot of the virtual / live performance by Bear Silvershade
Caledonia Skytower, Shandon Loring (centre) and Kayden Oconnell in an evocative shot of a 2013 special virtual / live performance of The Dickens Project. Credit: Bear Silvershade

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.

Christmas Yet To come, The Dickens Project 2016
A corner of Christmas Yet To Come, The Dickens Project SL, 2016

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.”

The Dickens Project SL, 2016
The Dickens Project SL, 2016

Continue reading “Previewing the Dickens Project for 2016 in Second Life”

A Christmas Carol in Second Life

 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.

The Dickens Project plaza, where readings of a Christmas Carol and other activities will take place throughout the festival
The Dickens Project plaza, where readings of a Christmas Carol and other activities will take place throughout the festival

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
13:00 The Plaza “The Story Behind a Christmas Classic” Caledonia Skytower
Sunday, December 13th – Tea-time and Tiny Carolers
13:15 The Plaza Christmas Carols and cheer The Raglan Shire Tinie Carolers
13:30 The Gallery Tea-time with Mr. Dickens (Upstairs in the bookshop)
Monday, December 14th – Stave One: Marley’s Ghost
13:00 The Plaza Caledonia Skytower
19:00 The Plaza Kayden Oconnell
Tuesday, December 15th – Stave Two: The First of Three Spirits
13:00 The Plaza Trolley Trollop
19:00 The Plaza Corwyn Allen and Faerie Maven-Pralou
Wednesday, December 16th – Stave Three: The Second of Three Spirits
13:00 The Plaza Dubhna Rhiadra
19:00 The Plaza Aoife Lorefield
Thursday, December 17th – Stave Four: The Last of Three Spirits, and Stave Five: The End of It
13:00 The Plaza TBA Reads Stave Four
19:00 The Plaza Shandon Loring read Stave Five
Friday, December 18th – Trivia and More Tinies!
18:00 TBA Dickens Trivia Peaches, Suemoon and HJ of the Community Virtual Library
18:50 The Plaza Christmas Carols and cheer The Raglan Shire Tinie Carolers

Special Events

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!

Josie Anderton and Paul Nowles will be perfroming at Fizziwgi's Ball on Saturday, December 19th, 12:00 Noon through 14:00 SLT
Josie Anderton and Paul Nowles will be performing at Fizziwgi’s Ball on Saturday, December 19th, 12:00 Noon through 14:00 SLT

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 Library, above the bookshop, will also play host to some events
The Library, above the bookshop, will also play host to some events

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.

So do be sure to pay a visit!

Additional Links

Charles Dickens to return to Second Life

TDP-15-posterSeanchai 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.

Caledonia Skytower, Shandon Loring (centre) and Kayden Oconnell in an evocative shot of the virtual / live performance by Bear Silvershade
Caledonia Skytower, Shandon Loring (centre) and Kayden Oconnell in an evocative shot of the virtual / live performance by Bear Silvershade

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!

Related Links