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10th Mountain News Releases and Advisories

Dec 26, 2006

Release Number: 0612-32

By: Senior Airman J.G. Buzanowski, Combined Joint Task Force-76 Public Affairs

Acting troupe brings 'A Christmas Carol' to Bagram

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – From December 27-29, Bagram Airfield will be visited by three ghosts, as warned by Jacob Marley, a repentant spectre: The Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet To Come.

The trio of spirits, along with the rest of the cast, are presenting Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol" here. Most of the performers are deployed members of the 10th Mountain Division, although service members from other units and services play key roles as well.

Producing the play on Bagram is the brainchild of Christian Faberij di Jonge, the founder of an amateur dramatics group on base.

"This seemed like the perfect play for the holiday season," said Faberij de Jonge, the director/producer. "We're hoping people will be entertained for a bit while they're here instead of home."

In his day job, Faberij de Jonge is the station manager for shipping company DHL. But like his cast and crew, after working up to 14 hours during the day, he changes hats and works to prepare for the performance.

"A lot of effort went into this production and no one got out of work to help out with this – everyone volunteered to make this happen," said Faberij de Jonge.

Making the production happen has been a labour of love for the troupe, however. Many members of the cast hadn't acted before, including Army Lt. Col. Ray Ramos, who plays Ebenezer Scrooge.

"I've always admired actors and people in the arts, but never thought I could be a part of that world," said Ramos, a Manhattan, N.Y., native. "This has been one of the most difficult things I've ever done – here I am in front of a bunch of strangers displaying all these emotions, not something I've ever done."

Even though he didn't want to play Scrooge at first, Ramos was talked into giving it a shot and has even said that once he retires from the Army, he's going to look for other acting opportunities.

Another actor, Army Maj. Joe Bolton, is also performing in a play for the first time. For him, the most challenging aspect was tackling two characters who are greatly varied in scope and demeanour.

"I'm playing Jacob Marley, who is this angry and bitter ghost and then I have to transition into playing Tupper, a flirty Irishman at a party," said Bolton, a New Hartford, N.Y. resident deployed from Ft. Drum.

In addition to new experiences, the play has even helped the local economy, Faberij de Jonge explained.

"We had all the costumes made for us by a local tailor," he said. "And most of the props we've needed we've bought here or in Kabul."

What the 40 members of the cast and crew couldn't buy, they made themselves, like the stage and backdrops.

Fans of the story may find this production a little varied than what they're used to. The players have rearranged some scenes from the script so the story flows quicker, as well as punched up the dialogue so the play is a little funnier instead of "all morality tale," as Faberij de Jonge described it.

But that's okay with Ramos as the entire point of the production is to increase morale and entertain people.

"We're trying to bring everyone a sense of home and make them happy," Ramos said. "We've got people from different countries, different services and different ranks and we've all come together to make this difficult time of year a little special for people since they can't be at home."

Faberij de Jonge plans on holding a summer production as well and anyone who is interested can contact him at
"A Christmas Carol" plays at the chapel from Dec. 27-29. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with the show beginning at 8. Admission is free, but seating is limited.


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