Safe to say Dickens wouldn’t be very good company if he was alive today, but I bet he’d be Tweeting his brains out and figuring out a way to make a pound or two from it. #dickensbirthday #paidperword #showmethemoney
I’ve acted in two plays that were adapted from Dickens’ novels. And, I’m just realizing this right now, they were the first two productions that I actually got paid to act in (if you don’t count my stint as the sheriff’s son at a local Renaissance Faire). Turns out the producers made a very big mistake hiring me, because I wasn’t terribly adept at the craft of acting.
In the first production, I was totally miscast as Uriah Heep in some kind of interactive Dickens-themed Christmas show. The show took place at a poorly heated Victorian mansion in Pennsylvania. I was terrible and my characterization (if you can call it that) basically involved me slinking around the airy rooms ringing my hands and sneaking up on unsuspecting geriatrics and scaring them so much that extra defibrillators had to be installed in the parlor room. On the plus side it gave me the chance to dye my hair red. Incidentally, nothing I did as the humble Mr. Heep had anything to do with to the heavy metal band, Uriah Heep.
In my second paid debacle, I played Pip in Great Expectations at the now defunct Pennsylvania Stage Company. How bad was I? I just found a review. It’s from the newspaper, The Morning Call, and I’ve never seen it until now. “Charlie Schroeder overplays naivete to the near exclusion of richer emotions: shock, weariness, righteous indignation.” I’d like to think that my bad performance had something to do with the theater shutting down shortly after G.E. closed. May it, and Charles Dickens rest in peace.