I had a great time at the Dickens in London event at the BFI last night. I was lucky to get a ticket to see see the 200th Birthday celebrations! It was a part of the huge worldwide programme of Dickens-related events taking place this year, in conjunction with the British Council.
I was particularly inspired by the footage of the Dickens Read-a-thon, which you can see here. I loved hearing the beautiful patchwork of voices and accents, as these amazing stories were told around the world. What a brilliant example of celebrating difference, whilst also enjoying being united by a shared love of literature.
It was an excellent event, with a live reading from Great Expectations by David Nicholls, a selection of short films inspired by Dickens' work, and Chris Newby's new work, Dickens In London. Newby's film sets 5 BBC Radio plays to a diverse, and wildly creative stream of visual images, which included the use of a set of Dickensian puppets! The fact that the soundtrack was a radio play of course meant that the whole film was in effect delivered in Voice Over. There could be no footage of mouths actually speaking words. It felt as though the whole experience were in some way heightened by using of an aural soundscape which was already complete, combined with a completely independent visual narrative. By disconnecting the two elements, the end result was something much more interesting than the sum of its parts.
Happy Birthday Mr. Dickens, thank you!