Sent 9/16/16
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The Great Dickens Christmas Fair Missive
Great Dickens Christmas Fair 2016 - September Missive #1
Notes from your Missive Maven:
It's September and there are lots of audition notices!

Please remember to contact the folks referenced in each notice above, rather than hitting "reply".

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Cat Taylor
Entertainment Director, Missive & Social Media Maven
In This Missive

Workshop Dates & Locations

The three weekends of workshops workshops start October 29th at Oceana High School in Pacifica. Workshops and rehearsals begin at 10am run until approximately 5:00pm.  As always, there will be a mandatory meeting at 10:00AM in the cafeteria on the first day of workshops. 

The first two weekends will be held at Oceana , the third weekend of workshops and rehearsals will be held at the Cow Palace, with a limited number of workshops taught on Saturday. No workshops will be taught on Sunday; that will be dress rehearsal day, which will also include a 10:00AM morning meeting.  

More information as it becomes available.

Dickens Book Character Auditions ~ Wednesday September 28th

Auditions for characters from:

A Christmas Carol
Pickwick Papers
Oliver Twist
and the various Other Books will be held 

The evening of Wednesday September 28th in San Francisco, CA.

Please allow time to find the location and get situated. 
Location particulars will be given when you schedule your appointment.

The character parts listed below are open as of now, if you played one of them last year and would like to do so again, please contact your director as soon as possible.

If you would like to audition for one of these roles, 
please email  Entertainment Department Assistant Rickie Bolin at
with the following information:

1. Your full name, email address and phone number

2. The character(s) you would like to audition for. (Please prepare a bit of the dialogue for that character - see web resources below - and be prepared to improvise as that character.)

3. Your first, second and third choice of audition time on Wednesday, September 28th, The auditions will be scheduled at 15 minute intervals, please be patient as we sometimes get a bit behind when auditioning promising actors.

4. Optional: A brief note of any experience you would like us to know about. We will have applications and accept resumes (not required) at the auditions.

Here's a great page to learn more about the characters and the books:   

The Audition Process

(from Therese Porter)

If you're interested, please prepare yourself - this is an audition. Memorize a brief monologue from a character you're interested in, or the type of character. We'll be looking for your ability to form a distinct characterization as well as your ability to project yourself vocally and physically. We will ask you to do some cold readings and free-form improvisation

Characters from "A Christmas Carol"

(from Therese Porter)

It's The Book, without which we would not be doing this! The cast of Christmas Carol is looking for a few stouthearted folks to fill crucial roles. This is a commitment of time and energy that requires memorizing lines (you may be assured that many of our audience know The Book).  We are currently looking for:

Mr Fred, Scrooge's Nephew
The embodiment of relentless good humour, fellowship and Christmas Spirit, Fred has some of the most memorable and marvelous lines in all of Dickens. Two longish scenes with lines and as much business in the streets - including interacting with Scrooge - as possible are required. Young to early middle age, able to project vocally and physically, both in scenes and interaction in the streets.
Peter Crachit/Young Scrooge/Young Lad (the one Scrooge sends off for the turkey)
Boy 10 to 14 years old. Traditionally we have cast these roles with one actor. Peter Cratchit is a boy being thrust too young into a man's estate, optimistic and devoted to his family. Two scenes, some lines. The boy who engages with Scrooge after his Redemption has some excellent lines and a lot of great theatrical business. There is one scene with young Scrooge that is brief but pivotal.
If you have questions, contact Therese at

Character from "The Pickwick Papers"

(from Colin Hammond)

Pickwick Club is looking for a Nathaniel Winkle

An upperclass young-ish gentleman character with an eye towards a sporting attitude.  Should have experience with improv, be quick-witted and team oriented. Some singing required.

Contact: Colin Hammond -

Characters from "Oliver Twist"

(from Cynthia Howell)

Oliver Twist
The youthful innocent boy around whom the entire story revolves. Must look and act innocent and stout-hearted. Projection a big plus. Looking for a child 9-12 who wants to act. This role may be full or part-time

Dodger is a plucky young man with very light fingers.  He is the older brother that Oliver Twist wished he never had, and Fagin's protege.  This is a scene and audience heavy roll, that requires a lot of in the streets action. Looking for a child 13-17 who wants to make a mark. This role may be full or part-time.

Fagin's Den needs a gang! Seeking children 11-17 who are willing to learn to pick a pocket or two.

A young woman of the streets who is the tragic heroine of our story. Looking for an actress 18-29 with horrible taste in men. Looking for a team player with excellent projection, cockney and improv skills.

A young woman of ill-repute. Nancy's best friend. Goes completely mad when she witnesses finds Nancy's body. Need an actress 18-29 with excellent projection, cockney, and excellent character and improv skills. 

Maid to Mr. Sowerberry and his undertaking business. She steals from her employer and runs off to London with Noah. Looking for an actress 18-29.

Flash Toby Crackit
A somewhat seedy and over the hill flim-flam man and housebreaker. Partner with Bill Sikes. Uses his charms to woo the housemaids of the target house while Sikes pulls out the silver. Flash is a very vain man and takes excellent care of his appearance. Looking for an actor 25-55. Must be able to charm audiences with words as well as have the fortitude to be Sikes' best friend. Lots of characterization work, lots of street work, some scenes work.

Mr. Monks
A horribly disfigured black hearted gentleman. Oliver's half brother. Monks is the true villain of the show and hires Fagin to find Oliver and destroy him. Walks with a limp, may or may not have various "French" diseases. Opium addict. Very rich. Looking for an actor 18-55 who has lots and lots of charisma, character experience, and the ability to both terrify and enthrall young audiences.

Mr. Sowerberry
Undertaker to whom Oliver is originally apprenticed. Unfortunately Oliver is mistreated and runs away to London. Sowerberry is described as tall and thin. Looking for an actoi 30-65.

Noah Claypole
A sneaky, lying bully of a young man who causes Oliver to lose his apprenticeship to the undertaker. Noah runs away to London with Charlotte and joins Fagin's Gang. Looking for an actor 18-35 who's willing to be a despicable human being.

Characters from The Other Books

(from Therese Porter and Rydell Downward))
The Other Books cast at the Dickens Fair portrays the wide variety of characters from works of Dickens. We put the "Dickens" in Dickens Fair!
We are a company of improvisational actors and our job at Fair is to continually interact with our guests and fellow actors. We are looking for experienced improvisational, interactive performers to help fill out our cast and populate the streets of the event with the vivid and memorable characters from the fevered imagination of Charles Dickens. All of the Fair is our stage, and its throngs our ever-changing audience. This is a full time commitment that requires energy, enthusiasm, strong improv skills and tremendous esprit de corps. 
Dickens' characters run the gamut of age, physical appearance, station in life and personality types. People frequently ask us what we are looking for - what we want are people who love to act and interact.  
For inspiration, peruse the works of Dickens (online or actual pages) or watch some of the brilliant British TV and film adaptations of his works, for an idea of the kinds of characters exist in the Dickens universe.  Even if the roles you're thinking about are filled, it gives us some idea of the "type" that interests you, and we can often match you up with a role that you find fulfilling. We are working with the characters of these books: 
  • Nicholas Nickleby 
  • Martin Chuzzlewit (English part of the story only)
  • David Copperfield 
  • Bleak House
  • Our Mutual Friend 

Netflix and Chill Your Dickens ~ Part Two

(from Therese Porter) 
Because of their exciting story lines, broad range of human experience and vivid characters, Mr Dickens' works have inspired theatrical adaptations from the time he first wrote them. Several of the next Missives will share suggestions for viewing some of the marvelous adaptations of Dickens available that enable one to enjoy Dickens in the comfort of one's own domicile without flipping pages.  To help you enjoyably get your Dickens bearings, assist your research and help you craft your performance, you need only  invite a friend or two, grab some snacks, pour a refreshing beverage,  and settle in in front of your viewing device!

The reason for watching these great adaptations is that even if you are not playing a character specifically from Dickens' work, each of us is performing in a Dickensian world. None of us can be be too big, bright and bold regardless of where we are performing in the Fair. To that end, if in the course of your viewing you see a quirk, a tic, a manner of speech that appeals to you and will enhance your characterisation, consider incorporating it into your character (as we are fond of saying, there is no copyright on body language).  And if you are moved to portray a specific character, consider preparing an audition for one of the book casts - A Christmas Carol, Oliver or one of the Other Books (Fezziwig's also draws heavily on Our Author for their characters).

This week's suggested viewing:
 A sprawling epic examining  the best and worst of human interaction with  broad range of superb characters. The book includes a section set in America that is biting and remarkably pertinent even today, but the adaptation wisely focusses on the interactions of a sprawling cast of characters in England. Some of Dickens quirkiest and best loved characters (at least during his lifetime) capture our attention.
The adaptation is in six parts and includes an amazing cast of tremendous actors including Paul Scofield, Tom Wilkinson, Pete Postlethwaite, and Julia Sawalha in addition to a host of marvelous British character actors. Young Martin Chuzzlewit battles to get a start in life, struggling against family machinations and his own headstrong pride. In the course of his journey Martin and those around him struggle with love thwarted, improper desires, family altercations, greed, ambition, exploitation, and murder! 

The action moves between a quiet, almost idyllic, country village and the tumult of London. Villainy preying on beleaguered virtue, engagingly funny comic scenes and interesting peeks into every day life in various social strata all add to the interest. Hypocrisy versus honour, integrity versus craven appropriation, and so much more roil in a dramatic stew that is tremendous fun to watch. Some of the business aspects Dickens pokes fun at are still remarkably timely (elaborate financial fraud? you don't say!).   Great period touches and lots of lovely detail and above all... those characters!

And speaking of characters, if you see someone you think would be fun to play, consider auditioning for Other Books. Information is available elsewhere in this Missive

Pipe & Bowl Morris Auditions

(from Jason Adajian

In preparation for the coming Dickens Fair and our 2017 season, the Pipe & Bowl Morris Men proudly announce try-outs for new dancers. We are looking for fit and healthy men ages 18 and above, with a lack of joint injuries or back conditions. Knowledge of Morris Dancing is not required, though any kind of folk or social dance experience is a plus, as well as any previous theatrical background. If you are selected we will teach you everything you will need to know to be part of our performance-oriented tradition. A good attitude, sense of humor and eagerness to learn are encouraged!

Try-outs will take place in September in Berkeley; if you are interested, please email Jason Adajian for information about time and location. Thank you!

Join Fezziwig's!

(from Dave Batzloff) 

Do you love Victorian ballroom dancing and English country dancing? Do enjoy dancing and acting at the same time and introducing people to the joys of social dancing? Fezziwig's Warehouse, the happiest Christmas Party in Dickens' London, invites ladies and gentlemen who love to dance and act and to share their love of dancing with others to join our merry band.  Dancing skills, energy, and stamina are admirable in a Fezziwigger but courtesy, reliability, and the ability to work cheerfully as part of an ensemble are even more important. If you don't know how to lead or back-lead, we can teach you and we're very effective at that! 

If interested in joining us, please email us at

PEERS: An Afternoon English Country Dance - This Sunday!

(from Cathleen Myers)
On Sunday, September 18, join PEERS and the fabulous Bangers & Mash for an elegant afternoon of vintage dancing - from beautiful waltzes, polkas, and tangos to a variety of lively English Country dance classics - at the Alameda Elks Lodge Ballroom.  For those needing an introduction to or a brush-up on English Country dance figures, there will be a dance class at 1 pm, followed by formal dancing from 2 to 6pm to the music of Bangers & Mash.  All Country Dances will be taught and called at the dance by Cassandra Vlahos and Cathleen Myers of Fezziwig's. Partners are not required. 

Vintage or modern "afternoon" dress or "tea dance" costume (circa 1900-1930's) is admired but not required. This is not a formal "tea dance" but there will be a no-host bar and complimentary light refreshments, lemonade, and iced tea. Tickets are $10 in advance; $15 at the door. For ticket information, please see the ball website at or email us at
Cathleen Myers, PEERS
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Contact Information
For specific questions regarding performing at the Fair, please email Cat Taylor
If your group would like to perform at the Fair for just one day (school caroling groups, etc.) 
please email Robert Young
For specific questions regarding vending at the Fair please email Vendors
For specific questions the beverage department please email Beverage
For questions regarding costumes, please email Costumes
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The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, Red Barn Productions,PO Box 1768, Novato, CA 94948
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