The Great Dickens Christmas Fair would not be complete without our very own, very special Dickens – actor Robert Young, a San Francisco native who has portrayed the illustrious author for more than two decades.
Charles Dickens was an enormously popular celebrity in his day; it would not be hyperbole to call him the first rock star. He was beloved as much for his public readings of his works as for the novels themselves. His performances were spellbinding, hypnotic and highly dramatic – audience members sometimes fainted at his shows.
To recreate Charles Dickens, Young has traveled to England to walk in the author’s footsteps and has studied transcripts of Dickens’ speeches, contemporary accounts of his public appearances, and the dialogue used by his many and varied characters. At the Dickens Fair, Young reads from Dickens’ work in the Dickens Family Parlour – presenting long passages from memory to keep the audience enraptured. Young’s favorites are A Christmas Carol – “the perfect moral tale” – and a certain excerpt from Oliver Twist that he calls “vivid and wicked; there’s probably not a more gruesomely bloody murder story in all literature.”
Do stop by the Dickens Family Parlour at the Fair; hear the author read from his works, and then perhaps even meet those characters in the street!
Photograph courtesy of Joshua Ets-Hokin