Cody Nickell in currently starring in Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol at Gulfshore Playhouse until December 20th.
Two weeks ago today I arrived back in Naples to start the very short rehearsal process for our remount of Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol. I had spent the previous few weeks at my cabin in North Carolina getting the lines and the characters and the voices back in my brain and body. All those words and voices came back pretty easily this year, and thank goodness for that, because I knew we were going to hit the ground running. And I wasn’t wrong. I walked into that rehearsal room two weeks ago, hugged my collaborators who I hadn’t seen in a while, and then we did a run through of the show. Now, I have done remounts of plays before, but never one where the very first rehearsal is a run through of the show. But we didn’t have long. Two days of rehearsal, three days of tech, and then we were in front of an audience. To paraphrase Bogle, one of my favorite characters I portray in the show, “That isn’t very long. Time’s a wastin’.”
Let me back up a little here and make sure we are all on the same page. If you don’t know, Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol is a one-person show where I play 18 different characters. This is the third year we have produced it at Gulshore Playhouse, and each year we try to get it right. Kristen Coury (my fearless leader on this piece), Kate Haggerty (production stage manager), all the designers, and myself feel very strongly about the play and this production, and every year we come together to tell this story again. Let me be clear, we don’t show up to the theatre and just throw up the same thing we did last year. We are continuing to hone, continuing to search for just the right tone, just the right look, just the right way of expressing this beautiful and universal story. What a thrill it has been to continue to deepen our work on Tom Mula’s wonderful play.
The most important way I think of myself as a theatre maker, whether that be as an actor or director, is as a storyteller. And this is a play about stories. It is a play about a man, Jacob Marley, who has to look back at his life, the choices he made, the way he treated others, the quality of his character, the story of his life. It is also about this man using storytelling to make another man, Scrooge, look at his own life. Both of these men go through dramatic changes because they see the story of their lives with clarity, and that clarity engenders empathy and understanding about their place in the world and how they fit in with the others around them. That is the power of storytelling. It makes the storytellers and the story receivers view themselves in juxtaposition to another’s story. This is one way, a time tested way, that we learn to be better humans.
So at this time of year as you gather with your families, and tell stories of holidays past, and catch up with friends and tell stories about what has been happening in your life since last you saw them, and as you watch the news and hear the stories of someone far away or close by that you don’t know, remember to listen deeply, to listen with all your heart, and remember that everyday is another chance to get it right. I am very thankful to have another chance to work with Kristen and all my other colleagues on this production and work towards getting it right. After all, we all deserve another chance to get things right. Happy Holidays.