For our third installment of the A Christmas Carol blog… we look back on Scrooge’s life with Sara Catheryn Wolf who plays the Ghost of Christmas Past. Sara lets us know about what it’s like to have compassion for such a ‘humbug’ and the struggles of forgiving yourself. Visit www.mbtheatre.com for more information and for tickets to see A Christmas Carol.
I love playing the Ghost of Christmas Past. Every year I find something new in the role. Every performance offers a new discovery- what is the best about Past is that she has to react based on Scrooge’s needs; why she must show certain scenes, what she hopes to accomplish by showing them. It’s easy to say that the spirit is trying to change him, but that is a kind of cop out. She’s doing more than that. She isn’t just trying to let him see the evil of his ways, she’s trying to help him forgive himself as well in a way. She’s not trying to just get him to be compassionate about others, she also wants him to be compassionate to himself as well. It’s hard to look back on your life sometimes and forgive yourself, embrace your humanity and reach out to others if you feel you’ve been failed by so many, and I think the spirit wants Scrooge to take that risk again. Money was a safe spouse in many ways- he could control it, it wouldn’t leave him, he could rely on what it had to offer. But the problem with money was that it alienated him from others. I think the spirit asks him to take risks, to face what hurts and see that he can survive it. He needs this lesson before he can even face the other two spirits, I think.
To prepare for the role, I read the book. And if you’ve read the book, you’ll see that the spirit is written as androgynous, neither old nor young, but both at the same time. Obviously we’ve taken some liberties with the spirit in form, but that allowed me to break with the archetype a bit more. I don’t think necessarily about her femininity, the dress and hair can do that for me. I was able to do the make-up plan myself to make her just a touch less human, something dreamy and a bit unreal. Ultimately, I had to find the compassion in myself for my fellow man. I imagine Scrooge sometimes as a moron that cuts you off while driving, as the head of a huge bank that throws people out on the street when they can’t make their payments on time, etc. It’s hard to have compassion for those people, and they are the ones that need it the most. Sometimes though, I imagine Scrooge as my own Dad, and the need to save him becomes more immediate and connected. Of course, my Dad is no Scrooge, he’s quite the opposite, but it’s a terrific “as if”- a tool we can use as actors to evoke a response in ourselves.
It’s also a tremendous pleasure to perform it for you folks. Your energy is such a part of what we do on stage. It is much more fun when you’re there, so come on out and see us!
~Sara Catheryn Wolf