Mark Cabus returns to local schools in December with his brilliant rendering of A Christmas Carol, on tour with TPAC Education’s Humanities Outreach in Tennessee and including an independent public performance on December 10 at Nashville’s First Unitarian Universalist Church.
In his action-packed staging of the Charles Dickens’ classic, Cabus plays 18 different characters at a whirlwind pace. The result is an acting tour-de-force as he vividly recreates the haunting, compelling and often humorous story, known worldwide for its literary and historical value.
“I love performing for young people. I appreciate their honesty and their immediacy. If you are boring they let you know it right away by fidgeting or talking back. I enjoy the challenge of staying on top of that. Student audiences are so honest and straightforward, not just with their attentiveness but with their appreciation, laughter, and expressions of shock and dismay. It’s all very genuine,” said Cabus, who immediately draws students into the play by enlisting their help with sound effects and song.
“This reflects participatory holiday traditions in homes during the Victorian era, but it’s also a bit of a hook to actively engage the students in the show within the first five, ten minutes. From there, they’re listening intently,” said Cabus.
“For children or adults, A Christmas Carol is a thrilling story. This is a dark and spooky train, giving Scrooge’s redemption at the end a great sense of accomplishment. In him we see that we all have hope, the ability to be redeemed as human beings, no matter what we have done,” he said.
Cabus has collaborated with TPAC Education on various projects for more than two decades.
“My mom was in education for 40-some years, working with every age level from preschoolers up through college students and senior citizens. She was an innovator in the area of Christian education whose ideas and techniques were used by major publishing companies throughout the country. She was a great inspiration to me, the best teacher I ever had. What made her such a great teacher was her curiosity and inquisitiveness. She was always learning,” he said. “And that’s one of the many things I love about TPAC Education. They are always looking for new avenues of reaching students. When they first approached me about creating a version of A Christmas Carol for schools, they wanted it to be, well, a conversation with students—not just me up there talking at them. They wanted it to be interactive and immersive.”
An actor, director, and educator, Cabus was classically trained in England and New York and has performed worldwide, including Atlanta (where he now lives) and Nashville, his longtime home. His movie and television credits include The Client and HBO’s Emmy-winning film Against the Wall. He also is appearing in the upcoming films Selma (Martin Luther King biopic) and The Longest Ride, in addition to joining the second season cast of AMC’s critically acclaimed series TURN.
According to Cabus’ official biography, he was honored by The Tennessean and the Nashville Scene as the city’s Best Actor and Director (2000, 2008). He was awarded the Tennessee Arts Commission/Ingram Industries Individual Artist Fellowship for 1992 and the Tennessee Williams Fellowship for 2003 from the University of the South for his adaptation of Animal Farm.
Here’s a closer look at Cabus’ A Christmas Carol:
Trailer directed by Will Akers