A Modern Dickensian Celebration this Christmas

Posted by Nick Hennegan on Friday, December 2, 2016 Under: Nick Hennegan
As you will know if you've been on the London Literary Pub Crawl, we are passionately enthusiastic about our unique bit of central London. Soho and Fitzrovia are arguably unique in the world. They are part city-centre, part artists enclave, part architectural delight and part hedonistic hot-spot.  

Fitzrovia, once known as East Marylebone or North Soho, is particularly attractive to us. One hundred yards from the busiest shopping street in the world I love the fact that some Saturday afternoons Fitzrovia feels like a small, quiet village. And so do its residents, many of whom have lived here for years, a hangover from the good old days of rent control when workers could afford to live in a city centre.

Between the world wars some of the most famous writers in the world visited Fitzrovia and chose to make it their home. But its history goes back much further than that. In the 1700's it was fields, but then the scale of building was such that it made the writer Daniel Defoe stare with wonder.

And much later, we've recently discovered, it was the home of Charles Dickens, not once, but twice!

He lived next door to a workhouse - we think it inspired him to write 'Oliver Twist' - and the iconic Middlesex Hospital. Those fine buildings have now fallen victim to the march of time.  The hospital has recently been redeveloped. Or at least most of it has. For although most of the old buildings have now been replaced by modern stock, in the middle of all the modernity is a real little gem. It was known as the West Middlesex Hospital Chapel and is the 200 year old relic of a great institution. But what a relic!  It was deliberately never consecrated so it could be used by everyone in the hospital for spiritual purposes regardless of religion.  How cool was that!  And as part of the redevelopment, £3million has been spent refurbishing the chapel, and it is now a visual treat. It's not fully officially reopened, but it's now run by a Trust and is known as The Fitzrovia Chapel. 

Which is why we are so humbled, flattered and privileged to be presenting one of the first ever public events in the Chapel this Christmas - ‘A Christmas Carol By Candlelight.’  We were described in a review last year as "the new Fitzrovian bohemians" and we're delighted the trust have trusted us to continue the tradition of writers and artists living and working in Fitzrovia, with this first event. Even though there have been poetry society readings and record company album launches, we are one of the first truly open public events and we're absolutely delighted. 

I hope you can join us on 23 December.  We've only just announced the show, yet as I write we have already sold over half of the available tickets!  And it's not just the venue, but the production too.  We are using a version of Charles Dickens' actual performance script. Dickens made a very good living and toured the world reading his own works.  'A Christmas Carol' was one his most popular performed readings.  And because I want to keep things original, and the Chapel is not a theatrical venue, I want to replicate the very nature of Dickens' original performance in terms of sound and lighting.  We can't afford a live band, but the production generally will be very authentic.  Even if our candles will have to be electric due to the delicate nature of the restoration!

It should be exceptional. We're bringing our own bar too!  You can pre-order wine, beer and orange juice via email.  And if there's a particular tipple you want, let us know in advance and we'll find it for you.  

Like every Maverick Theatre production, this isn't about the money.  It’s about creating what we hope will be a memorable experience.  On Friday 23rd December.  The night before Christmas Eve!  I’ve been reading A Christmas Carol since I was a small boy.  The magical story just keeps on moving us.  And perhaps this year more than most we need to be reminded of man’s ultimate kindness and goodness.  

Bless us all, every one.

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In : Nick Hennegan 

Tags: charles dickens  a christmas carol  fitzrovia  soho  middlesex hospital. 
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About Us

Nick Hennegan Hello. I'm Nick Hennegan and I started the London Literary Pub Crawl. Most of the blogs on here will be by me. I've always written but my first theatrical success was an adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Henry V' (www.HenryVPlay.com) I founded Maverick Theatre in 1994. (www.Maverick-Theatre.com) This pub crawl is really more a promenade theatre performance than a tour and I'm running it with a bunch of enthusiastic local actors and writers. I love sharing my passion for the area and the artists. I also present a radio show on Resonance 104.4fm - London's Arts Station and a podcast on our site. If you haven't visited us in London yet, I hope you'll come soon. And feel free to leave comments or email me at nick @ LondonLiteraryPubCrawl.com - I reply to them all and I love to hear from you.


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