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Volume 24, Number 11 — December 2017

One actor plays more than 40 roles in "A Christmas Carol"

John Hardy (Photo by John Galli)
John Hardy (Photo by John Galli)

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | November 29, 2017

John Hardy is featured in a one-man adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" Sunday, Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. at the Virginia Ballroom in the Abingdon Community Center. Sponsored by the Friends of the Washington County Library, the production features Hardy playing more than 40 characters. The production is free of charge as a gift from the Friends of the Library to the community.

"It is a loyal adaptation of the book," says Hardy. "'A Christmas Carol' is one of the best known stories in the world, and I wanted to retain, as much as possible, the essence of the book in its original form." The play follows the book, scene by scene. "Even though it is the same story as the book, the experience of actually watching an actor live through the events of a play is vastly different than simply hearing the story or reading the book. I get entirely caught up in the story as I am doing the play, and the audience goes right along with me."

From the first moment of the play until the last, Hardy never leaves the stage, and he never changes costume. How then, does he manage to portray more than 40 characters? "Well, that's the reason it is a difficult play to act," he says. "The characters are defined by variations in accents and speech patterns as well as physical traits. Most of the time, when acting in a play or a film, an actor has the job of creating one character, and that is difficult enough — but 40, it's a big job, to say the least. That challenge is also the reason this production is a unique event. Even if an audience member has seen a previous production of "A Christmas Carol,' they have not seen it done like this."

In working on "A Christmas Carol," Hardy found that the story had much more to offer than he originally believed. "I was surprised at how funny it was. Dickens has taken this serious subject and somehow made it funny. It is a celebration of the spirit of Christmas. That is the best word that I can think of in describing this piece: Celebration; it is a celebration."

John Hardy has been involved with theater for more than 30 years-as an actor, director, playwright, teacher and dramaturge-most of that time at the Barter Theatre, where he is currently an associate artist. Over the course of his career he has directed more than 100 productions at theaters around the country and as a playwright has had professional productions of 15 plays.

Hardy has directed such productions as "Macbeth," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Henry V," "Julius Caesar," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "Tartuffe," "Man of La Mancha" and others. As an actor Hardy has played many of the great roles including Hamlet, Macbeth, Tom Wingfield in "The Glass Menagerie," Oberon in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Teach in "American Buffalo" and many others.

He recently received the Sara Spencer Award, for lifetime achievement, from the Southeastern Theatre Conference. Hardy has an M.F.A. from the University of Alabama and a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University

"A Christmas Carol" runs approximately 75 minutes and is performed in one act. It is appropriate for audiences of any age but is best suited for ages 10 and above.

For more information, visit www.wcpl.net or call 276-676-6222.

Topics: Dance, Theatre