hatlogo Great Stories Alive !
      "Performance with Passion & Purpose"

PO Box 11045 - Portland, OR 97211 - (503) 335-3876 - GreatStoriesAlive.com


FOR RELEASE ON:  Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Media Contacts:

Al LePage, Performer, Great Stories Alive! / 503-335-3876

Glenda Williams, Director, Friends In Need Food Bank / 604-466-FOOD (3663) Ext. 4

"A Christmas Carol Duet" 1859 Victorian Style!

Time travel with two historic characters, an "Englishman" and a "Learned Lady of Fort Langley,"
for a dramatic reading of this holiday classic of personal transformation and charity to feed the hungry

bookA dramatic reading of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" will be presented in the style of the Victorian era to benefit the Friends In Need Food Bank in Maple Ridge, BC.  Nette Plant as “Learned Lady of Fort Langley Emmeline Newton” and Al LePage as "Englishman Thomas Hutchinson, Amateur Thespian" will perform complete with accents, clothing of the period and other accoutrements. The program will take place on Friday, December 14th at 7PM in St. Andrews Heritage Church at 22289 - 116th Avenue in Maple Ridge, BC and is an officially listed CBC Radio annual "A Christmas Carol" reading event.  Doors open at 6:30 PM. Admission is $10 per person and all funds will directly benefit the food bank and be solely dedicated to purchase food. The performance is about 2 hours in length and is best appreciated not only by adults but also children at least 8 years of age.  Tickets may be reserved in advance by calling 604-466-3663 or purchased at the door, and seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

"Bringing great stories to life in the character of someone from the past," begins LePage, "is a very powerful way to engage people, and connect them with the history not only of a certain time period, but also where they actually live or visit. And great stories can make people more aware of the reality that surrounds them, and connect them with others and within themselves for greater understanding and compassion. Live drama can bring these great stories to life in a way that provides both entertainment and insight. So, given all this and the themes of personal transformation and charity in Dickens 'A Christmas Carol,' it simply makes a lot of sense to donate my time and talents to benefit others through dramatic readings of this particular story."

"Lady Emmeline Newton is the perfect historic figure for me to portray," notes performer Nette Plant," because besides actually being the Chief Clerk's wife of nearby Fort Langley itself, she also adored the writings of Charles Dickens. We can all play a part in fact, both the audience and myself, by fighting hunger in our community."

Nette Plant as Mrs NewtonPlant and LePage both share a mission of playing to and with audience members to bring history and great stories alive! This will quickly become evident when you first encounter them before the performance. Their love of improvisation combined with a highly interactive approach means there's sure to be lots of drama and fun combined with fast action and probably some real surprises!  Yes, since they're playful, like to experiment and believe in seizing the moment, even they don't always know what's going to happen.  As Shakespeare wrote, ". . . one man in his time plays many parts . . ." and their creative use of voice should shine through as they create all 26 characters – with an interesting twist here and there -- all within the span of about two hours.

Friends In Need Food Bank distributes to over 600 families and singles each month and assists 7 community agencies to provide food and nourishment to those who are hungry,” begins director, Glenda Williams. “We depend solely on the generosity of our community and its members, and we receive over 105,000 kilograms of donated food each year from local groceries, bakeries, retailers and community members. While all food donations are always appreciated, since we have greater buying power than the average customer, we can turn every $1.00 cash donation into $2.50 worth of food! So, the upcoming reading of A Christmas Carol will be a great way to both give and receive during this holiday season as all funds raised will be dedicated solely to purchasing food to those in need."

candleAccording to the Canadian Association of Food Banks annual HungerCount 2007 report, Canada's only national survey of food banks and emergency food programs, insufficient social assistance, narrowed eligibility, lower benefit levels, and decreased benefit periods for unemployment insurance, the need for livable wages and affordable housing and childcare issues are some of the primary contributors to poverty and hunger. The report also notes that in British Columbia alone children represented 36.3% of the total 76,514 people assisted by food banks during March 2007.

"As we reflect on the state of food banks in British Columbia it is definitely a “cup half full”scenario," so notes HungerCount 2007 BC Provincial Coordinator Dave Murray with the Abbotsford Community Services Food Bank. "The great news is that food bank usage declined in the 2007 HungerCount. The number of adults served declined by 3.6%, and the number of children served declined by 10.3%. On the surface this appears to be a cup filled with reason for great optimism. Combined with a record-setting 3.9% unemployment rate and the creation of 371,400 new jobs, it appears that our cups are overflowing in B.C. However, the cups of food bank clients are not as full as one might expect.  In 2007 it is expected that a single mother’s income will decline by $3,900 per year.  Another sobering fact is that British Columbia continues to have the highest child poverty rate of any province in Canada for the third consecutive year. The B.C. rate is 23.5%, or nearly one in every four children, living in poverty in our province. This is well above the national child poverty rate of 17.7%. The sad fact is that for most food bank clients their cups remain at best 'half full'."

Nette at Fort Steele
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” notes LePage. “So come and play along with us! Yes, join us for lots of laughter, and hopefully some tears, during our premier dramatic reading duet of Charles Dickens 'A Christmas Carol'.


The Friends In Need Food Bank is a private, non-profit organization whose mission is to provide for the hungry in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, to inform and refer when needed and to raise awareness concerning hunger issues. Founded in 1989, it has grown from a basement operation to a 3200sq ft warehouse in Maple Ridge with a secondary distribution depot in Pitt Meadows. Call 604-466-3663 or visit their website at www.friendsneedfood.com for information on how you can help either through making donations of cash or food and in other ways, such as becoming a volunteer. The food bank is also a member of the Canadian Association of Food Banks (CAFB) and abides by its Code of Ethics.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church was built on land owned by Thomas Haney in 1878. It housed its congregation through the transition to the United Church in 1926 until it was finally outgrown in the middle 1950's. It was purchased by the municipality after being rescued by George Mussallem and was given over to the current management of the Maple Ridge Historical Society. Located at 22289 116th Ave. in Maple Ridge, the hall is intimate and charming and will hold events for up to 75 people. It is perfect for small weddings, family parties, church gatherings, and meetings. Please contact Tom Little at 604-466-3171 for further information regarding the use of this facility.





Suggested CAPTIONS for IMAGES:

"Englishman Thomas Hutchinson, Amateur Thespian" as portrayed by Al LePage, is sure to bring you laughter, hopefully some tears, and a dance! (Photo credit: David Krapes)

"Lady Emmeline Newton" as portrayed by Nette Plant will not only perform but also entertain you with music, a song and a surprise!  (Photo credit: Parks Canada)

Nette Plant, as travelling performer "E. Pauline Johnson-Tekahionwake, Mohawk Princess-Poet," on tour in "1898"at Fort Steele Heritage Town.

 CBC Radio Official "A Christmas Carol" Readings Website