Theatre Interview: Charlie Bouguenon – A Christmas Carol, Or A Skinflint Sensation

December 15, 2021

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A Christmas Carol is Charles Dickens’ 1843 Christmas classic – it’s now played around the world for nearly 180 years! Many of its themes still resonate with modern society, making the story a favourite among theatregoers, especially during the festive season. Fundamentally, it is a story of hope, family and loved ones, and living life to the fullest. For this production, the original text was adapted by Elizma Badenhorst. The piece is staged by Jaco van Rensburg and VR Theatrical, narrated by Chris Dudgeon and features animations by Naret Loods and music by Wessel Odendaal. Charlie Bouguenon stars as Scrooge, sharing the stage with Amber-Dawn Burnhams (as everyone else!).


Live performance: the thrill versus the nerves – where are you on that curve as a new show starts?

To be honest, I’m very chilled. Focused, rearing and ready to go. Excited to get on stage. We’ve prepared fastidiously during the rehearsal period and now it’s time to share our story with the audience. What a privilege it is, in this time, to be a practicing thespian.


How do you find a balance during rehearsals or other preparation?

Having an intimate understanding of who my character is and the world he is inhabiting is key. Grasping his function and place in the story and then taking medium, genre and style into consideration is also of utmost importance. And then to deliver a sincere performance of a complex human being having an experience – that’s it.


In a best-case scenario, what are you looking for in a role? What is the main basis for that decision – the script, the people involved, the challenge to your skills, the impact (positive or negative) it might have on your life in general, or perhaps something else?

All the things you’ve mentioned! And not only an impact in my life but an impact in those who attend the show. This show in particular is a story of hope. A Christmas wish for a better life. And Scrooge is one of the greatest characters to portray in theatre.


Acting is often a vocation, a thing you can’t not do. How true is that for you now? Has it changed over the years – for practical, perhaps banal reasons? And how do you, or would you like to, keep your calling front and centre in your life?

Ha, yes! I often joke with colleagues that this is a life sentence. You’ll find me here in my old age. My family has a long and rich history in the performing arts and it’s as if I was destined for this line of work – or rather expression.


What are the toughest expectations to deliver on – all the way from the first audition to the end of the run?

Often the challenge is to keep focus on the piece. Let all the banal, everyday static subside into the background and let the character live every performance as if for the first time. Do the story justice in its telling.


Tell us about your current production, and what makes your character interesting to play?

The show’s central character Ebenezer Scrooge has a wonderful story arc and in a strange way he creeps into your heart – the lovable scoundrel. Some of the most noticeable challenges are the necessary command of the space, as Scrooge never exits the stage, so there are intensely taxing physical and vocal characteristics to consider. With all that said and done, there is keeping it believable and sincere.

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