By Tara Mae
In celebration of the 27th Annual Charles Dickens Festival in Port Jefferson Village on Dec 2 and 3, the Long Island Museum (LIM) has collaborated with the Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council (GPJAC) to present Come In! — Come In! And, Know Me Better, Man! at the LIM’s Carriage Museum on Saturday, Nov. 25 and Saturday, Dec. 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. Over a dozen costumed Dickensian characters will roam among antique carriages as they magically transform the galleries into a London of a bygone century. The event is included with museum admission.
“Some of the beloved longtime Dickens Festival characters are venturing further afield from Port Jefferson Village and heading toward the Long Island Museum to spread some joy in the holiday season, and to share with LIM visitors some of the aspects of their life during the middle of the 19th century,” said GPJAC Program Director Amy Tuttle.
Portraying a number of the author’s archetypes such as those who populate A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist, they carry the patrons back in time by immersing themselves in their roles. Being surrounded by transportation of yesteryear only enhances the effect.
“The actors will be wandering around and doing performances as Dickensian characters-situational performances,” explained LIM’s Public Programs Coordinator Emma Backfish. “We have never had something like this, where we have these performers near the actual carriages. It will be interesting to see the actors play off of the different carriages, many of which are tied into that era. And, it will be an unique experience for them.”
“Because the actors are so immersed in their characters, they can not only bring scenes in the Dickens canon to life, they also interact spontaneously with the public. Several of the actors are also very much involved with historical re-enactments, and have appeared in period films,” added Tuttle.
Like the museum itself, the actors are committed to exploring the artistry of enlivening history. Through historical interpretation, a performance art rooted in realism, the actors invite the audience to participate in their play and appreciate history from a more interpersonal perspective.
“I am excited to see people acting amongst our vehicles. They are bringing the era to life, putting vehicles in motion in people’s minds. Having people there, speaking and acting as they are part of that time, brings them to life in a lot of ways,” Backfish said.
Wardrobes are provided by either the actors or through the estate of Nan Guzzetta, the late proprietress of Antique Costumes and Props by Nan in Port Jefferson.
These events are the latest act in an ongoing partnership between the GPJAC and LIM. Previously the organizations jointly focused on live musical performances, specifically the Sunday Street Concert Series which is held at the museum’s Gillespie Room.
“It’s exciting being part of a collaboration which is so unique, enlightening and fun for everyone,” said Tuttle.
The Long Island Museum is located at 1200 Route 25A in Stony Brook. For more information, visit www.longislandmuseum.org.