An Audience with Boz
Since November 1993, Roger Jerome has performed onstage as Charles Dickens all over the United States, most recently for the Ohio Historical Society and for the Cleveland chapter of the worldwide Dickens Fellowship. He has appeared in colleges, schools, small theatres, retirement homes, historical societies, et al, crafting a variety of formats for his impersonation. The original one was “An Audience With Boz” – a re-creation of the spirit and style of Dickens’ own celebrated public readings, if not an accurate reproduction. Dickens would perform for up to 3 hours to huge audiences, before his gaslit curtain, without a microphone. In these days of DVD’s and sound-bites, it is difficult to engage an average audience for long with just the spoken word, even words so brilliantly put together as those of Dickens.
Jerome has therefore compiled a number of items, each of a more manageable duration, and venues can select from these in choosing a program most suitable for their patrons, from the following:
- “Charles Dickens, the life” – this is a potted biography of the famous writer, presented while Jerome puts on his makeup and costume. This enables Roger to mention some surprising facts which Dickens would never have talked about in public (15 mins.)
- Uriah Heep – the writhing, sweaty fixer talks hypocritically to David Copperfield (8)
- Alfred Jingle breezily boasting to Mr Pickwick of extraordinary exploits (8)
- Vincent Crummies – grandest and seediest of actor-managers addresses Nicholas Nickleby.
- John Jasper – spilling the beans in an opiate haze in “Edwin Drood” (8);
- Mrs Gamp – sozzled but self-confident in “Martin Chuzzlewit” (7);
- Mr Gradgrind – pounding out facts to Cissy Jupe In “Hard Times” (7);
- Dr Monette – mind broken by Bastille imprisonment in “A Tale of Two Cities” (7);
- Sikes and Nancy – the violent murderer meets his end in “Oliver Twist” (8).
If many of these are villainous, it’s because the Devil often has the best tunes.
- "DICKENS' CHILDREN" - a participatory program for schools, focusing on young people in the novels, inc. Pip and Estella, Nell Trent, Oliver Twist and the Cratchits. A workshop for the participants is followed by a presentation to the whole school.
- "CHARLES DICKENS ENTERTAINS" - after some of his expert magic tricks, the maestro tells a ghost story, delivers a comic recitation and involves the audience in singing "Shiverandshakery".
- "CAROLISM v EVIL" - the terms in which Dickens saw the world, with benevolent goodness opposing the criminal mind, are shown by presenting choice villains in opposition to simple and determined goodness.