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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

November 25, 2009

Playing the Role of Fred, by Charleston Stage’s Professional Resident Actor Justin Tyler Lewis

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 11:38 am

Q:  At the beginning of the play, Fred has taken a lot more abuse from Scrooge than most people could tolerate, but he remains good-natured and upbeat.  How does Fred’s view of Scrooge differ from the rest of the world’s, and how did it affect your portrayal of the character?

A:  One of the key scenes between my character, Fred, and Scrooge takes place close to the beginning of the play in Scrooge’s office.  In this scene Fred visits his uncle Scrooge to invite him to Christmas dinner.  During rehearsals for this scene, the director, Julian, addressed one of the most important subtextual elements of the scene; given the text, Fred would never stay in the office and persist in inviting a cranky, crotchety, and a more or less abusive relative to dinner.  Therefore, something keeps Fred in the office and enlivens him to continue struggling with the yet-to-be-redeemed, old miser.  So I worked with my fellow actors and director to find what keeps Fred in the office.

Scrooge is, after all, Fred’s blood relative.  Scrooge doesn’t have any other family and Fred’s only family is his new wife Caroline.  In keeping with the spirit of the season, Caroline insists that Fred invite his Uncle Scrooge to Christmas dinner.  Also, Scrooge has pushed Fred away because, at least on one level, Fred reminds him of his sister Fan – Fred’s mother.  Meaning that Scrooge took Fred in and cared for him when he lost his mother and father in youth.  Scrooge states near the end of the play, “I have many kindnesses to repay.”  I believe Fred feels the same toward Scrooge and so keeps up with the invitation.  This gesture of invitation relates back to one of the key themes of Dickens’ story and Julian’s adaptation: the holidays and the holiday spirit are a time to remember the people who have been good to us and the people whom we love.  And so, Fred persists in his efforts to invite Scrooge and remains good-natured and upbeat while doing so. 

Fred’s view of Ebenezer Scrooge – that of relative and former caretaker – could never be shared with Bob Crachit, Jacob Marley, or the neighborhood kids.  And because Fred has this special tie to Scrooge, he will continue, though he may wane and struggle, to love Scrooge and extend a warm, embracing hand.

Fred

(Far Left: Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Justin Tyler Lewis as Fred)

 

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