On 2 December 1834, his creation was completed but his publishers were less than enthusiastic about the concept - Dickens' current publication, Martin Chuzzlewit, was not meeting with unbounded success. However he was so aflame with fervour for his project, that he poured his own money into the publication of the first edition, and the first 6,000 copies of A Christmas Carol appeared in the booksellers' windows on 19 December 1834.
The instant and overwhelming success of the original publication of A Christmas Carol was such that it sold out before Christmas Eve 1834, having been on sale for less than one week. In the following year, the novella was to be reprinted thirteen times and, in fact, it has never been out of print to this day. Whether Dickens' 'sledgehammer blow' had the desired effect on the population is debatable, looking at the child poverty crisis of today, but his novella has been woven into the fabric of our social history, becoming an indispensable part of our Christmas entertainment in one or more of its many incarnations.
Imagine, then, the delight of the ETC production team upon learning this, when their presentation of A Christmas Carol was scheduled for the very same day of its original publication, 19 December, exactly 187 years later just before Christmas 2021.
As a rehearsed playreading, the script of the ETC's production is an adaptation of the original novella, edited to fit the casting requirements of the Company. But the dialogue spoken remains faithful to Dickens' original, using only his beautiful and familiar words. In fact, the narrator of the story is Charles Dickens himself and, in the ETC playreading, we see him seated at his writing bureau as he creates the characters and their story that unfolds before him.
With wonderful creativity, the Company members brought the characters to life, dressing them in an imaginative suggestion of costume redolent of mid Victorian England, and skilfully portraying a 'bewilderingly large' number of personages, up to as many as five for just one actor. The collaborative effect of this fine ensemble work was greatly appreciated by the audience, as were the ensuing mince pies and mulled wine, served to them by the cast against a convivial background of Christmas music. And, as Dickens himself says, "There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour."