#Throwback Thursday – Shiffler portrays Charles Dickens

On Dec. 2, 1976, Staff Writer Bob Drews wrote about the recording of a hour-long live production by HC’s speech-drama professor Dr. Harold Shiffler. The live production recording was based off of the story of “A Christmas Carol,” that has been read by Dr. Shiffler on HC’s campus every year since 1962. 

Dr. Harold Shiffler portraying Charles Dickens in a specially taped broadcast of “A Christmas Carol” to be seen on the Nebraska Educational Television Network (NETV).

Dr. Harold Shiffler, HC speech-drama professor, taped an hour version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” for the Nebraska Educational Television Network (NETV), last August. It will be aired at 9 p.m. on Dec. 23 and 6:30 p.m. on Dec 25.

Shiffler explained that the TV version is different from his platform readings of the past in that he uses make-up, costume and a set of two rooms.

“The rooms used in the set were constructed especially for the program,” he said, “from pictures of Dickens’ rooms in London. It becomes more a dramatic reading than the usual platform presentation.”

The script which Shiffler uses is very similar to the Dickens reading version, which has been published with his own notations, cuts and word changes from the original story, Shiffler explained.

Shiffler, an HC professor since 1959, first read “A Christmas Carol” on campus in 1962. He continued to read it annually through 1971, and since has read it every other year. He also has presented the reading in several Nebraska communities, in Iowa and in Tennessee.

Shiffler said that last summer he was contacted by the Central Education Network (CEN) to buy the tape from the NETV for a much broader presentation. Last weekend he learned that CEN did buy the tape and now station members have it for use. He explained that the broadcasting area of the CEN includes the entire Central Plains area and that he has no idea of their individual airing dates.

“Not all of the stations in CEN will use the tape,” Shiffler said. “There are certain areas where they may not have broadcasting time for it this year, but the tape is closed circuit and they will be able to use it next year and thereafter.”

He also explained that it took him a while to become comfortable with a British dialect which Dickens’ himself would have had, and that the taping itself took a total of three days.

Shiffler will also present the reading on Dec. 11 at Wesley House on the University of Nebraska campus.

Shiffler said that the Christmas Carol story was one of Dickens’ own favorites during his tours of England and the United States. He said that it was included on most of Dickens’ reading programs, partly because of his own feeling toward it, and also because of its enormous popularity with his audiences.