Thursday, April 19, 2018

Bit of an oddball, really

This TLS article, about theatrical productions based on Charles Dickens novels, starts by noting how Dickens as a young man was very attracted to the idea of being a professional actor.   But he missed an audition and gave up on the idea, even though his behaviour when alone could still be very "theatrical":
...the fact that Dickens could imagine such different outcomes with equal conviction indicates that he did not simply abandon his theatrical ambitions when he became a full-time writer. Instead he absorbed them into his daily routine. His daughter Mamie once observed him in the process of composition:
. . . my father wrote busily and rapidly at his desk, when he suddenly jumped up from his chair and rushed to a mirror which hung near, and in which I could see the reflection of some extraordinary facial contortions which he was making. He returned rapidly to his desk, wrote furiously for a few moments, and then went again to the mirror. The facial pantomime was resumed, and then turning toward, but evidently not seeing, me, he began talking rapidly in a low voice.
It was like a private version of the “monopolylogues” Dickens had enjoyed watching as a young man, farces at Covent Garden and the Adelphi Theatre in which the virtuoso actor Charles Mathews took on all the parts himself, swapping facial expressions and voices like a series of hats. For Dickens the blank page had become a stage on which he could perform his own inimitable one-man show.

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