09
Feb
12

Dickens 200th Anniversary: Dickens’ Women

Did you know it was Charles Dickens’ birthday on Tuesday? He would have been 200 years old!

The British Council has an exciting schedule of events in 2012, to celebrate worldwide, Dickens’ 200th anniversary. We are lucky enough to welcome the return of the extraordinary BAFTA®-winning actress, Miriam Margolyes, in her one-woman show, Dickens’ Women.

Andrew Denton is a big fan of Margolyes:

Miriam Margolyes is just a little different to most actors. She has done Dickens … she has been a penguin, a sheepdog and a glow-worm. You may also know her as Professor Sprout from Harry Potter. Her CV is as unlikely as the woman herself.’ 

In Dickens’ Women, Margolyes will bring to life 23 of Charles Dickens’ most affecting female (and male!) characters, including Mrs Micawber from David Copperfield, Miss Havisham in Great Expectations and the grotesque Mrs Gramp in Martin Chuzzlewit. “They are real to me,” she says.

“Dickens’ women were chosen not only because they are some of the most colourful and entertaining characters in his writing, but because they were based on real people in his life; people he fought with and cared for, loved and hated,” explains Miriam. “In this way, the play is as much about the man himself, as it is about the 23 characters. These characters are drawn from his novels & sketches, including his most popular such as Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and Nicholas Nickleby. Some characters are famous & iconic, others are lesser-known creations from Dickens’ books, but all offer a unique glimpse into the real-life Charles Dickens.”

For Margolyes, it all comes down to the voice. She once said, “Voices are people,” and recently, when speaking with Sharon Verghis of the Weekend Australian review (February 4th -5th 2012), “Voices betray people perhaps in ways they never imagine.” This reveals a lot about the woman (more vulnerable than one would think, according to Verghis) and about her characters (“the mixture of evil and comedy that is particularly Dickensian.”)

Margolyes’ career began within the BBC Drama Department, in radio roles and voiceovers and quickly spanned TV (Blackadder), film (The Age of Innocence) and theatre (she was Madame Morrible in the original West End production of Wicked).

Miriam Margolyes as Madame Morrible in the original West End production of Wicked

“Directors are always saying to me, ‘A bit less, Miriam’.

And with Dickens, you don’t have to do that.”

Miriam Margolyes in conversation with Sharon Verghis

Dickens’ Women was developed by self-confessed “Dickens’ tragic”, Miriam Margolyes and Sonia Fraser for the 1989 Edinburgh Festival. It has since travelled worldwide, including London, Jerusalem, Santa Cruz, New York, Boston, Sydney, and all over India. In 1992, Dickens’ Women was nominated for the prestigious Olivier Award. 2012 will be busy for Miriam Margolyes; she is also appearing in the ABC’s new series Phryne Fisher Murder Mysteries based on the best selling series by Kerry Greenwood and set in the 1920s in Melbourne. Miriam will play Mrs Prudence Stanley, Phryne’s Aunt.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see Miriam Margolyes live on stage, only at the QPAC Playhouse and the Gold Coast Arts Centre in March.

What:             Miriam Margolyes in Dickens’ Women in BRISBANE

                           Presented by Andrew McKinnon Fine Entertainment

Venue:           Playhouse, Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC)

Date:              March 22 – 24

Website:      www.dickenswomen.com

Tickets:       www.qpac.com.au

What:             Miriam Margolyes in Dickens’ Women – GOLD COAST

                           Presented by Andrew McKinnon Fine Entertainment

Venue:           Gold Coast Arts Centre

Date:              March 21

Website:        www.dickenswomen.com

Tickets:         http://www.theartscentregc.com.au

Miriam Margolye – Biography

She is a British award-winning actress who has achieved success on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in Australia. Winner of the BAFTA Best Supporting Actress award in 1993 for The Age of Innocence, she also received Best Supporting Actress at the 1989 LA Critics Circle Awards for her role in Little Dorrit and a Sony Radio Award for Best Actress in 1993 for her unabridged recording of Oliver Twist. She was the voice of the Matchmaker in Mulan & Fly, and the mother dog in one of Australia’s most successful films Babe.
Major film credits during her long and celebrated career include Yentl, Little Shop of Horrors, I Love You To Death, End of Days, Sunshine,Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence, Cold Comfort Farm and Magnolia. She starred in Stephen Hopkins’ The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,Modigliani, Istvan Szabo’s Being Julia and Ladies in Lavender (dir. Charles Dance, with Dames Smith & Dench). Margolyes was Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Most recently, Margolyes appeared in The Dukes, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (with Simon Pegg) and Blind Man’s Bluff.
Most memorable TV credits include Old Flames, Freud, Life and Loves of a She Devil, Blackadder, The Girls of Slender Means, Oliver Twist, The History Man, Vanity Fair and Supply and Demand. Her 2004 BBC TV documentary series Dickens in America was a worldwide success. In May 2010, she starred in the UK TV series, MERLIN.
In 2002, H.M The Queen awarded Miriam the Order of the British Empire for her services to Drama.

In the early years of the twenty-first century, we still sometimes see the world as a ‘Dickensian’ place. On the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s birth, we look at how his example and his creations live on. Dickens was one of the greatest of Victorians, but this seminar is about the Dickens who continues to be our contemporary. What do today’s writers still learn from him? What do readers of fiction expect because of him? What would he write – and what would he write about – if he were alive today? Dickens was a writer who broke the rules of tasteful composition. He revelled in caricature and hyperbole; he rifled the language for absurd idioms and resonant clichés; he loved the grotesque. Are his stylistic freedoms still available to writers today? He was also a satirist who was confident he knew the difference between good and evil. He was always ready to step into his novel to exhort or lecture his readers. Can contemporary novelists draw on the same moral fervour? He wrote novels that seemed to be about what was called ‘the condition of England’; he sometimes seemed to anatomise a whole nation. Do we still hope that novelists will take on such a task? Is it even possible to do so?

– Professor John Mullan

Dickens' Dream (unfinished) by Robert William Buss (1804 - 1875)

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