PD FY21 A CHRISTMAS CAROL Virtual Workshop - Poverty - Dallas Theater Center
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Project Discovery VIrtual Workshop: A CHRISTMAS CAROL 2018

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Adaptation, Music & New Lyrics by Todd Almond || Conceived by Lear deBessonet
Based on the play by William Shakespeare

The story is told by Antigonus (Liz Mikel), and it all starts in the Kingdom of Sicilia, where King Leontes (J.D.Mollison) suspects of treachery from his wife Queen Hermione (Tiana K. Blair) with his friend King Polixenes of Bohemia (Ivan Jasso). When the Queen reaches her ninth month of pregnancy of a baby that Leontes suspects it’s Polixenes, King Leontes plots to kill Polixenes but he manages to escape. He then accuses Hermione of adultery and asks the Oracle of Delphi for proof. The Oracle declares Hermione’s innocence but he refuses to believe. Antigonus’ wife, Paulina (Sally N. Vahle) communicates to the monarchs that their older son, Mamillious (Alan Ramirez) has died of grief. The Queen collapses and Paulina takes her to sanctuary. Paulina comes back to King Leontes to announce the sudden death of Queen Hermione, which leaves King Leontes with a terrible heartache. He concedes to not sacrifice the baby, but he orders Antigonus to take her far away to die.

The newborn princess, who we come to know as Perdita (Ivey Barr) is left by Antigonus at the shore of Bohemia where he is eaten by a bear. A shepherd (Terry Thompkins) finds the baby princess and raises her as a shepherdess. She seems to be falling for a Bohemian boy named Florizel (Jeff Pope), whom she doesn’t know is the prince of Bohemia. King Ploixenes, who discovers them at a sheep-shearing festival, would not approve this match, so the couple elopes to Sicilia.

Poverty in Nineteenth Century London

 

 

“Are there no prisons?…And the Union workhouses?…Are they still in operation?…The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?…I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there…If they would rather die…they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

—Scrooge, in A Christmas Carol

 

 

The Poor Law

The Poor Law of 1834 established the workhouse system in England. Though intended to provide a haven for the eldery, sick, and poor and provide work in exchange for food or clothing, workhouses became a kind of second prison system. The Poor Law banned the giving of cash gifts or gifts in kind (such as food, blankets, or clothes). The only option for a family that had fallen into poverty was the workhouse, which demanded hard labor in exchange for a thin subsistence. People saw the workhouse system as a deterrent to the institution of poverty. Children were separated from their families, belongings were sold, and the general regime was harsh and austere.

 

Debtors’ Prison

Debtors’ prison were jails designed for the incarceration of those who could not pay their debts. Debtors’ prisons had been around since medieval times, but in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, entire prisons were dedicated to just those that couldn’t pay their personal debts. Debt was a classless crime. Many in the middle- and upper- classes were imprisoned for overspending to keep up appearances.

 

Child Labor 

Throughout most of history, children have served in the labor force as servants, apprentices, farmhands, and other odd jobs. Industrialization caused a dramatic increase in child labor. Children began working younger. In industrial regions, children started working at an average of eight and a half years old, though it wasn’t uncommon for children as young as four to be on the factory floor. Children were often assigned dirty dangerous work in factories or mines such repairing breaks in the thread on spinning machines (piecers), cleaning under machinery (scavengers), picking out coals at the pit mouth, and carrying picks for miners. These jobs were performed for low pay (or sometimes simply for room and board) with long hours. Children were often beaten, thrashed, and otherwise abused by their employers and coworkers. However, they and their families were often too poor to have any effective means of recourse; the families couldn’t afford to not have the income of their child.

 

“I wear the chain I forged in life…I made it link by link, and yard by yard;
I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”

—Jacob Marley, A Christmas Carol

Alex Organ and Drew Wall, photo by Karen Almond

Further laws increased protection for children. The Factory Act of 1878 raised the age of employment in all fields to ten, and the Education Act of 1880 mandated schooling until the age of ten (later amended to mandate schooling until the age of twelve). However, scholars believe that Britain’s Industrial Revolution was built on the back of its child laborers.

[Information courtesy of CharlesDickensInfo.com, CharlesDickensPage.com, ACLU, HistoryRevealed.com, PaulHarveyArchives.com, the British Library (1, 2), and the Independent]

 

What People Are Doing to Help

The Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty has created the Child Poverty Action Lab, a non-profit designed to address child poverty in Dallas. The Child Poverty Action Lab will work with the city’s major institutions (such as the City of Dallas, Dallas ISD, Parkland Health and Hospital System, and Dallas Area Rapid Transit) and various other partners to address the effects and causes of child poverty.

Nonprofits like For Oak Cliff, the Commit! Partnership, and Behind Every Door help families in Dallas with school supplies and school engagement, tackling one issue that affects families in poverty.

 


Poverty in Dallas 

Poverty is as much a modern problem as it was in A Christmas Carol. Dallas is among the most impoverished cities in the United States and has one of the highest child poverty rates among major United States cities.

 

Working Poor

Just like Bob Cratchit and his family, many of the poor in Dallas are working full-time, but remaining in poverty. Factors like a dropping median income, a lack of affordable transportation, lack of education, and racial and economic segregation contribute to Dallas’ poverty problem.

 

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Adaptation, Music & New Lyrics by Todd Almond || Conceived by Lear deBessonet
Based on the play by William Shakespeare

The story is told by Antigonus (Liz Mikel), and it all starts in the Kingdom of Sicilia, where King Leontes (J.D.Mollison) suspects of treachery from his wife Queen Hermione (Tiana K. Blair) with his friend King Polixenes of Bohemia (Ivan Jasso). When the Queen reaches her ninth month of pregnancy of a baby that Leontes suspects it’s Polixenes, King Leontes plots to kill Polixenes but he manages to escape. He then accuses Hermione of adultery and asks the Oracle of Delphi for proof. The Oracle declares Hermione’s innocence but he refuses to believe. Antigonus’ wife, Paulina (Sally N. Vahle) communicates to the monarchs that their older son, Mamillious (Alan Ramirez) has died of grief. The Queen collapses and Paulina takes her to sanctuary. Paulina comes back to King Leontes to announce the sudden death of Queen Hermione, which leaves King Leontes with a terrible heartache. He concedes to not sacrifice the baby, but he orders Antigonus to take her far away to die.

The newborn princess, who we come to know as Perdita (Ivey Barr) is left by Antigonus at the shore of Bohemia where he is eaten by a bear. A shepherd (Terry Thompkins) finds the baby princess and raises her as a shepherdess. She seems to be falling for a Bohemian boy named Florizel (Jeff Pope), whom she doesn’t know is the prince of Bohemia. King Ploixenes, who discovers them at a sheep-shearing festival, would not approve this match, so the couple elopes to Sicilia.

Poverty in Nineteenth Century London

 

 

“Are there no prisons?…And the Union workhouses?…Are they still in operation?…The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?…I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there…If they would rather die…they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

—Scrooge, in A Christmas Carol

 

 

The Poor Law

The Poor Law of 1834 established the workhouse system in England. Though intended to provide a haven for the eldery, sick, and poor and provide work in exchange for food or clothing, workhouses became a kind of second prison system. The Poor Law banned the giving of cash gifts or gifts in kind (such as food, blankets, or clothes). The only option for a family that had fallen into poverty was the workhouse, which demanded hard labor in exchange for a thin subsistence. People saw the workhouse system as a deterrent to the institution of poverty. Children were separated from their families, belongings were sold, and the general regime was harsh and austere.

 

Debtors’ Prison

Debtors’ prison were jails designed for the incarceration of those who could not pay their debts. Debtors’ prisons had been around since medieval times, but in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, entire prisons were dedicated to just those that couldn’t pay their personal debts. Debt was a classless crime. Many in the middle- and upper- classes were imprisoned for overspending to keep up appearances.

 

Child Labor 

Throughout most of history, children have served in the labor force as servants, apprentices, farmhands, and other odd jobs. Industrialization caused a dramatic increase in child labor. Children began working younger. In industrial regions, children started working at an average of eight and a half years old, though it wasn’t uncommon for children as young as four to be on the factory floor. Children were often assigned dirty dangerous work in factories or mines such repairing breaks in the thread on spinning machines (piecers), cleaning under machinery (scavengers), picking out coals at the pit mouth, and carrying picks for miners. These jobs were performed for low pay (or sometimes simply for room and board) with long hours. Children were often beaten, thrashed, and otherwise abused by their employers and coworkers. However, they and their families were often too poor to have any effective means of recourse; the families couldn’t afford to not have the income of their child.

 

“I wear the chain I forged in life…I made it link by link, and yard by yard;
I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”

—Jacob Marley, A Christmas Carol

Alex Organ and Drew Wall, photo by Karen Almond

Further laws increased protection for children. The Factory Act of 1878 raised the age of employment in all fields to ten, and the Education Act of 1880 mandated schooling until the age of ten (later amended to mandate schooling until the age of twelve). However, scholars believe that Britain’s Industrial Revolution was built on the back of its child laborers.

[Information courtesy of CharlesDickensInfo.com, CharlesDickensPage.com, ACLU, HistoryRevealed.com, PaulHarveyArchives.com, the British Library (1, 2), and the Independent]

 

What People Are Doing to Help

The Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty has created the Child Poverty Action Lab, a non-profit designed to address child poverty in Dallas. The Child Poverty Action Lab will work with the city’s major institutions (such as the City of Dallas, Dallas ISD, Parkland Health and Hospital System, and Dallas Area Rapid Transit) and various other partners to address the effects and causes of child poverty.

Nonprofits like For Oak Cliff, the Commit! Partnership, and Behind Every Door help families in Dallas with school supplies and school engagement, tackling one issue that affects families in poverty.

 


Poverty in Dallas 

Poverty is as much a modern problem as it was in A Christmas Carol. Dallas is among the most impoverished cities in the United States and has one of the highest child poverty rates among major United States cities.

 

Working Poor

Just like Bob Cratchit and his family, many of the poor in Dallas are working full-time, but remaining in poverty. Factors like a dropping median income, a lack of affordable transportation, lack of education, and racial and economic segregation contribute to Dallas’ poverty problem.