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December 12 , 2006
DH 06 JH91
Contact: Joanie Harmon-Whetmore
(310) 243-2740/2001

"A Christmas Carol": Theatre Arts Majors Celebrate the Past, the Present and the Future

Carson, CA - In Charles Dickens’ holiday tale, “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge is transported by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future to see what could happen if he continues on his miserly and miserable path through life. Audiences at CSU Dominguez Hills’ University Theatre are also taken on a journey through director Naomi Buckley’s (Class of ’00, B.A., Theatre Arts) production of the classic, in an adaptation by Doris Baizley.

“There are so many adaptations of this play,” says Buckley. “Picking one that was written by an L.A. playwright, for an L.A. theatre, was to choose something that is a really good fit for here.”

Senior John Waite (Theatre Arts) underscores the resonance of a new take on an old tradition, saying that, “This is a production that is not about just one person, it’s about everybody in it. The point of Christmas is an involvement on a social scale that includes so many people. So in order to celebrate that spirit, you have to have an ensemble that is able to work together well. What makes ‘A Christmas Carol’ relevant to a 2006 audience is the idea of coming together as people, but respecting the individuality of the human being, and incorporating that into
your daily life.”

Buckley’s casting of this play-within-a-play version depended on her actors being able to perform as a cooperative ensemble to portray 19th century England with a minimum of staging.

“I wasn’t so concerned with how tall you were, what color you are, or were you old enough to play Scrooge. It was more about how you could go where I needed you to go,” she says. “Usually, you see ‘Christmas Carol’ performed in full Victorian costume, it’s snowing, and ghosts are flying in. And that’s great. But in this version, we have very minimal props and sets. We can’t recreate London in Victoria’s time for you exactly, but we can have an interactive relationship with an audience, and if we are doing our jobs, then we don’t need a lot of realistic props and complicated sets. The most magical moments I’ve ever experienced in theatre occurred when an audience’s imagination coincided with great talent and writing onstage.”

Buckley got to experience this firsthand while in an accelerated master’s degree program at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London, as a 2005 Ambassadorial Goodwill Scholar sponsored by Rotary International, one of only
two students from the Los Angeles area. Her most memorable experiences include watching performances at the Old Globe Theatre, living in a flat with her husband in celebrity-filled Crouch End, and the support of her Rotary Club host counselors, one of whom was a playwright himself. She completed her M.A. in a year and returned home this October in time to direct “A Christmas Carol.”

“It’s been exciting to bring all that I learned back here,” she says of applying her experience to her cast. “The best part is being able to bring it back to where I came from.”

Waite has benefited from Buckley’s experience, and says that, preparing for the role of Scrooge with her has helped“expand my palette of characterization, and my acting abilities, both vocally and physically. I’m slowly being molded and shaped, which is fun and exciting.”

When asked about being able to effectively play a part beyond his age range, the 25-year-old Troy High School (Fullerton) graduate laughs, “Makeup can do wonders. I’m hoping it will do a lot of wonders,” and admits to sharing some similarities to his character, despite his youth.

“I do like my ‘alone’ time, I don’t get a lot of that,” he says. “I’m also very meticulous with my finances. And I’m very organized, even in my messes. But there are certain aspects I don’t really share with him. I think Scrooge allowed a lot of outside forces to affect him in a way that shaped him into what he was, as a miserly person. I’m not the type of person to really let outside forces affect me too greatly. But it’s not as if he’s so farfetched a character.”

Waite, who has been acting since elementary school, despite a brief detour to pursue medical school, exhorts his fellow students to “follow your heart. Otherwise, you’re going to be miserable for the rest of your life. Or you’re always
going to be asking yourself, ‘What if?’ Whatever career you’re considering, go for it. See how you like it, and if it’s not for you, get out of it and find something else. If we all learn to do that, everything will be fine in one way or another.

"Unfortunately, we live in a predominantly capitalistic society. Too many students just go for business degrees or to law school. Statistically, they’ve proven that more than 80 percent of lawyers hate their jobs. But they went into law because they saw the easy money. And while I love shopping at Bloomingdale’s just as much as the next person, sometimes I have to forgo those luxuries because those will last maybe a year. If I’m doing what I love, that’s going to last me the rest of my life. I’ll age better, and I’ll be a happier person, and that rubs off on people.”

Buckley’s CSUDH directing credits include “The Vagina Monologues,” “Lend Me a Tenor,” and “In the Still of the Night.” The San Pedro High School alumna has also established a reputation in the South Bay as a playwright, producer and instructor.

“I’m really proud of the way San Pedro been able to create theater for itself,” she says, “with the Little Fish Theatre Company on 7th Street, and Shakespeare by the Sea, that started there, but is now all throughout the South Bay. For a
little tiny town by the ocean, it’s doing a great job of bringing in and funding culture and the arts. It’s so important and enriching for any city, big or small, for grownups and for kids.”

Buckley also appreciates the do-it-yourself spirit that permeates the CSUDH Theater Arts department, affording budding actors a hands-on education, with skills that prove invaluable on the job market.

“One of the great things about Dominguez that sometimes seems like a drawback, is that we don’t have a huge department,” she says. “If you’re here as an actor, you end up learning, or having to do a lot of technical things. At first, students
say, ‘I don’t really want to learn how to do that, I just want to learn how to act,’ I know I thought that for a while. But when I left here, I realized I knew how to design a set, light a stage, costume a show, do makeup, run sound and lights.

“When I went to try and get jobs, people would say, ‘We’ve already cast the part, but what we really need is someone to do costumes, would you be able to do that?’ And I would be able to say, ‘Yeah, actually, I can!’ I’ve gotten just as much
acting work, but it often doesn’t pay anything, you get paid for doing the technical stuff.

“Even in London, when we would be doing our shows at school, and have to costume and prop them ourselves, I would be able to tell the other students, ‘Come to me and I’ll show you how to do your old-age makeup,’ and the students would ask, ‘How do you know how to do that?’ And I said, ‘I went to a school where we learned how to do all of this, we weren’t allowed to just be actors.’”

"A Christmas Carol" continues at the University Theatre on December 15 and 16, at 8 p.m. There will also be matinee performances at 2 p.m. on December 16 and 17. The University Theatre is located on the Dominguez Hills campus, at 1000 E. Victoria Street in Carson. Tickets are $10 for students and seniors and $12 for general admission, with group rates also available. For reservations or more
information, please call (310) 243-3589, or purchase tickets online at http://Zaptix.com under "California Events."

CSU Dominguez Hills is at 1000 East Victoria Street, on the east side of Alondra Boulevard between the 91 and 405 freeways. The 190th Street exit from the southbound 110 Freeway becomes East Victoria Street east of the 110 Freeway.
Enter at Tamcliff Street-Toro Center Drive off E. Victoria (between Alondra and Central Avenue), immediately turn left at Dominguez Hills Parkway, proceed about 150 yards to the kiosk. Then go back to Toro Center Drive, turn left, and
proceed to Lot 3 or Lot 6, both on the right side of Toro Center Drive.

CSU Dominguez Hills - University Communications & Public Affairs
1000 E. Victoria Street
Carson, CA 90747













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Last updated December 12, 2006, 3:37 p.m.
by Joanie Harmon-Whetmore