Charles Dickens comes alive at performance

You'll believe Charles Dickens is alive and well when you hear nationally touring actor Bert Hornback read "A Christmas Gift" from "Great Expectations" on Dec. 7 at Saint Joseph's College.

As Charles Dickens, Hornback travels with his velvet-covered reading stand, a replica of the specially designed reading desk that Dickens always used. Dressed in Victorian style, he needs no other props. He peoples his stage, as Dickens did, with a host of characters, and recreates out of language and air, the "Scrooge and Marley" signs above the warehouse door, the Cratchits' Christmas goose and all the rest of Dickens' wonderful trimmings.

The readings typically begin with comments by "Charles Dickens," often on the topics he so wrote about: greed and corruption, poverty and hunger, compassion and generosity, and love. Hornback has presented his Dickens readings all over the United States since 1976.

Dickens combined acting with his career as a novelist, both in the way he wrote fiction and in his dramatic performances of his own works. He wrote to be read aloud. It is not just that his characters are full of dramatic life; the narrative itself is one of the richest dramatic experiences in the English language.

Hornback is a professor of English at Bellarmine College in Louisville, Ky. He taught at the University of Michigan for 28 years and has written four books on Dickens.

The performance at Harold Alfond Hall auditorium on the Standish campus begins at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public, but call 893-6603 to reserve tickets.

Novemeber 19, 2004 Contact: Charmaine Daniels at (207) 893-7723 or e-mail cdaniels@sjcme.edu