Patrick Stewart On Bringing Scrooge To The Stage

By Lisa
December 24, 2001 - 10:23 PM

Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard) will be spending his Christmas treading the boards on Broadway, where he'll be performing his acclaimed adaption of 'A Christmas Carol.' In a new interview, the actor spoke about why he was first drawn to the classic Dickens tale.

"I adapted 'A Christmas Carol' in the autumn of 1988 during the second season of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation," he told the New York Times.

"It was when I had begun to realise that the series was not going to be a flop, as predicted, but might just run the full six years of my contract. With a shooting schedule that didn't permit doing a play in the hiatus, I began to panic about losing touch with the theatre. I had heard of actors who stayed away from the stage too long and as a result lost their nerve for live performance."

As soon as he read the story for the first time, Stewart was captivated by Dickens' narrative. "Held on standby in a small hotel on a wet day, I took the thinnest volume from the residents' lounge bookshelves and read 'A Christmas Carol' in one sitting. Oh, yes, I saw what C.D. was doing. [...] I felt him pulling at my heartstrings and tweaking my emotions, but with my actor's cynicism firmly in place, I read on and on and finally closed the book, blinded by tears. A power I had not identified had been at work on me all the time. The potency of redemption, the headiness of liberated joy, the relief of the 11th-hour reprieve was overwhelming."

Turning the novel into a stage play took several years to realise. "We skip forward to Christmas 1991. I am still doing Star Trek, but my executive producer, Rick Berman, has somehow manipulated the shooting schedule so that we can film the series and I can also spend the holiday break at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on West 49th Street, performing a now fully staged, fully learned production of 'A Christmas Carol.' Once Broadway became a reality, I knew I finally had to throw away the pages I had been clutching and planting around the stage in the different versions I had been experimenting with up and down the West Coast. This was serious stuff."

"So serious that, standing in the wings on opening night, I thought that the first thing I was going to do on a Broadway stage was throw up. I didn't. And from whatever green room in the sky Charles Dickens was watching, I trust neither did he."

Much more from Patrick Stewart about how he adapted the novel to the stage and why he wanted to take it there, can be found in the full article at the New York Times. Thanks go out to Sean Corbett for this news!

Stewart also appeared on NBC's Today show to promote the play. "While it can sometimes be lonely on stage by yourself," he explained, "One advantage is that you never have to worry about other actors stepping on your lines."

The actor would not be drawn on the subject of 'Star Trek: Nemesis,' the next Star Trek feature film which is currently in production. What could he tell the audience about it? "Not a thing," he laughed. "There is a possibility, that I may just save the universe one more time."

More details of his appearance can be found here at TrekWeb.

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