Based in Penzance, Cornwall, David Mynne crosses the Pond this December to delight Wallis Annenberg audiences with his unique take on Dickens’ timeless masterpiece, A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Mynne is a founding member of Kneehigh Theater Company and charmed Wallis audiences with the 2017 production of “Great Expectations.” In his current production, Mynne takes on the cast of dozens, all the while adding delightfully extra humbug to this classic Christmas tale. His captivating solo performance serves as the 2019 gateway to the holiday season. He was interviewed in November about his upcoming performance.
THE WALLIS’ PAUL CREWES IS A BIG FAN OF YOURS. TELL US ABOUT WORKING WITH HIM AT KNEEHIGH.
I was so pleased to be invited to The Wallis by Paul! I have a long history with Kneehigh and I remember the first time I met him when he joined as producer. Kneehigh is a theatre company unlike any other: we work together as a ‘family’, sharing the work space, eating together, exchanging ideas between performers, directors, designers, musicians, etc. It’s not always easy to fit in, but Paul had no problem. He was then, and is now, a fine man to work with!
YOU BROUGHT “GREAT EXPECTATIONS” TO THE WALLIS LAST YEAR TO GREAT ACCLAIM. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE THEATER AND ITS AUDIENCES?
A great deal of my work is in small, non-theatre spaces in rural areas – performing for audiences who do not have easy access to mainstream theatres – so to perform in a warm and comfortable theatre is a joy! The Wallis has a wonderful atmosphere and all the staff are so friendly and helpful. When I brought “Great Expectations” to Beverly Hills in February last year, I was interested to see if Dickens’ language and humor would work with a different audience. Luckily for me, it did. ‘A Christmas Carol’ is one of Dickens best-known and well-loved stories; I’m hoping The Wallis audiences will love it.
CHRISTMAS CAROL AUDIENCES ARE PROMISED THEY’LL REMEMBER “A CAST OF DOZENS.” TELL US MORE ABOUT THAT.
My idea was to adapt well-known classics, with epic stories and plenty of characters, to give myself a challenge. My aim is to take the audience on a journey into another world where they meet lots of different characters – forgetting that it’s only one man playing them. ‘A Christmas Carol’ has about 18 speaking characters (with more than one line) and a few others besides. Look out for the cat!
HOW DO YOU LIKE WORKING AS A SOLO PERFORMER? DO YOU PREFER WORKING WITH OTHER ACTORS OR ALONE?
It’s not a matter of preference. Since my first solo show, I have loved the freedom of working on my own. One of the great things about working alone is having complete control of the show so, should the opportunity arise, it’s easier to improvise and work with audience reaction. Last autumn, I toured with a Kneehigh show (FUP) working as part of a cast of four and two musicians. It was great to be back working with, and enjoying the camaraderie, of other actors.
WHICH CHARACTERS IN “A CHRISTMAS CAROL” ARE YOUR FAVORITES?
I have to say Ebenezer Scrooge, of course: “A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, clutching, covetous old miser!” But, quite honestly, Dickens writes such wonderful dialogue that I love them all. The ‘Portly Gentleman’ is fun to perform and I have a soft spot for Tiny Tim.
WHAT MAKES THIS SHOW APPEALING TO ADULTS – AND WHY IS IT SUITABLE ONLY FOR “BRAVE” CHILDREN?
Dickens use of vivid language, elements of classic ghost stories, and the clear structure in A CHRISTMAS CAROL makes it easy to understand and be swept away by the story – whether you’re an adult or a child. “Brave” children? There are a few scary moments – it is a ghost story after all – but a lot of funny ones too!
HOW DO YOU SELECT A SOLO STORY? WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS FOR CHARACTERS?
I have a ‘shortlist’ of great novels, which I would love to turn into one-man shows. That list keeps getting longer! I’m 70 years old now… will I get through the list?
My work is very much in the clown tradition. I develop my characters through observation and exaggeration. I may start with a voice or perhaps a physical trait. Charles Dickens gives his characters vivid descriptions – so working on A CHRISTMAS CAROL, I already had a head start.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES THEATER SCENE? DO YOU ENJOY YOUR TRIPS TO LOS ANGELES? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE MEMORIES OF LOS ANGELES?
The first time I visited Los Angeles was when I brought “Great Expectations” to The Wallis, so I know nothing of the theatre scene there! I had very little time to explore while I was there before; and, unfortunately, it will be the same again this time as I have a very busy UK tour in December. As for favorite memories… I just love the Art Deco architecture. Great coffee. Some fine food. The Santa Monica fish market. If I’m lucky enough to be invited here again, I’ll make sure I have more time…
A CHRISTMAS CAROL runs from December 4 through December 8, 2019, with performances at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. The Lovelace Studio Theater is located at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Tickets are $25. For information and reservations, call 310-746-4000 or go online.