This year marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth. Rodman Public Library is commemorating this bicentennial with An Afternoon with Charles Dickens, a program presented on Saturday, December 8, at 2:00 p.m., by Largely Literary Theater Company artistic director and co-founder Mark Dawidziak.
Charles Dickens was one of the first celebrity authors. He enjoyed bringing his many characters to life during wildly popular readings throughout the British Isles and, late in his life, during a fabulously successful tour of American cities. Dickens will be brought vividly to life in this one-man performance recreating one of the author’s “Public Readings.”
The free program will feature performance readings from some of the writer’s best-known works. Dawidziak has been playing Dickens for more than 10 years, about the same number of years he has been a member of the Cleveland chapter of the International Dickens Fellowship.
Dawidziak portrays Dickens in full costume, using a replica of the famous reading desk the beloved British author used when giving his public readings. Saturday afternoon’s selections include excerpts from Dombey and Son, A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities, as well as a fun story called “Captain Murderer.”
After the performance, which runs about an hour, Dawidziak will take questions about Dickens’ life and career. No registration is required and will be held in Rodman’s main auditorium. For more information, call 330-821-2665, ext. 208. Rodman Public Library is located at 215 East Broadway Street in Alliance, OH.
An Afternoon with Charles Dickens has been staged at various Ohio libraries during the Dickens bicentennial year. In addition to solo appearances as Dickens, Dawidziak has been playing the writer in the Largely Literary Theater Company’s acclaimed three-person version of A Christmas Carol since 2002. He has presented scholarly papers on Dickens and, in 2009, he was a member of the five-person committee that brought the 103rd International Dickens Fellowship Conference to Cleveland.
The television critic for the Plain Dealer, he has been a theater, film and television reviewer for more than 30 years. He is the author of many nonfiction books, including two about Mark Twain. His most recent book, written with Paul J. Bauer, is Jim Tully: American Writer, Irish Rover, Hollywood Brawler, a biography of the “hobo author” from Ohio.
He is also a novelist, playwright and Mark Twain scholar, frequently playing the author of Huckleberry Finn for solo performances and such Largely Literary productions as the three-person Twain By Three.
The Largely Literary Theater Company was founded by Dawidziak and Sara Showman in 2001 to promote literacy, literature and live theater. Best known for its faithful adaptations of great literary works, the troupe has toured its acclaimed version of A Christmas Carol, Twain By Three and The Tell-Tale Play, a two-act collection of poems and stories by Edgar Allan Poe, to Cleveland, Akron, Columbus, Solon, Kent, Medina, Wooster and many other Ohio cities.
Born Feb. 7, 1812, Charles Dickens was not yet 30 when Sketches By Boz, The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby and The Old Curiosity Shop had established him as a literary superstar. He followed these early triumphs with A Christmas Carol, Dombey and Son, David Copperfield, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations and Our Mutual Friend.