It’s November, and all for One’s custom is to offer a play which is in keeping with the approaching holiday season. This year’s selection may puzzle a few of you, so I am happy to tell you a little more about it.
Charles Dickens’ name may be synonymous with Christmas for the Anglophiles among us, but not for this particular story.
However, Great Expectations does in fact begin on Christmas eve. Later in the play, Pip attends a ridiculous Christmas pantomime (traditional English stage show for the holidays), and the play ends in December.
But beyond those brief references, the play is very much about family ties and loyalty, and the circumstances in our lives which strain or cement those loyalties. Christmas is very much a time for family celebrations, and the expectations which come with those gatherings.
Pip spends most of the story struggling to reconcile his origins with his expectations, his family roots with the aspirations he clings to of a different life. When reality and hope collide, Pip has to decide what has the greatest claim on his life, and what choices will truly lead him to be the man he is meant to be.
In the course of his journey, presented in what Dickens calls three “stages,” Pip meets many colorful (usually comedic!) characters and has a number of adventures. Our cast of six actors and two actresses will portray Pip and about 40 other people!
This production frames the story as a work in progress being developed by a Victorian theatrical troupe in search of their next project. As such, the sets are composed on the spot out of a few sticks of furniture and two movable walls. The characters are created with voice and movement and a single additional piece of clothing or a prop (such as eyeglasses or a hat). Many of the sound effects are also created live.
We hope that our audiences will be drawn into the story by using their collective imagination to help flesh out the scenes.
Aidan Kroeker portrays Pip; Kalleah Wilfong plays his love interest, Estella; Rachel Walker is the eccentric Miss Havisham; Vince Rainelli embodies the unforgettable convict Magwitch; Timothy Deal is Pip’s best friend Herbert Pocket; Dennis Nichols plays the lawyer, Jaggers; and Steven Manning is his enigmatic clerk, Wemmick.
Each of the actors except Kroeker plays at least four other roles as well.
Luke Holliger has designed the lighting which will do so much to create the scenes and the mood; Mary Swerens is the costumer, Scott Kump the sound designer, and the stage manager is Sarita Swerens.
We hope you will come and experience this compelling, atmospheric tale of treachery and faithfulness, despair and hope, old tragedy and hilarious comedy, which has been crafted with love as our holiday gift to our theater-loving community.