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Local playwright uses skills to benefit others



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Courtesy photo
December 05, 2013
There's nothing Scrooge-like about the generosity of Art Animates Life, which is a local organization of actors who perform plays to raise money for other nonprofit groups.

Charles Carr and his wife, Marsi, are longtime Valley Center residents who have put their love for the arts into practice by creating that organization, which has gained notoriety for its faithful adaption of A Christmas Carol and sold-out shows.

"We bring community actors to a community charity that desperately needs help," Charles Carr said.

Carr is a television director and producer for several shows and is also a newspaper columnist, magazine editor, musician and playwright.

Marsi is a private music teacher.

Together they founded Art Animates Life to create an out let for actors by pairing with other nonprofit agencies that lend their stages or venues for the show's performances in return for proceeds from ticket sales.

"We've been doing an adaption I wrote called Mr. Scrooge and Mr. Dickens for years and years now as a traditional Christmas play," Carr said.

He said during rehearsal for their first production about seven years ago, that several actors had kept questioning some of the lines from their script.

By the end of the show he had re-written more than half of it, he said.

Then he decided to write his own script.

"The way I adapted Scrooge for the theater is so close to Dickens' original work," Carr said.

He said last year's six Christmas season shows were performed at Escondido's Park Avenue Center, and 100 percent of the money was donated to the Escondido Community Services Department to the children's and senior citizens fund for hot meals.

This year, the production of the Charles Dickens classic Mr. Scrooge & Mr. Dickens is benefiting the San Marcos Historical Society.

"We're doing it in a theater about 100 years old, surrounded by historical homes, and it feels like the perfect ambiance," Carr said.

He said he learned that the San Marcos Historical Society had an excellent venue for performances, which fits his organization's model.

He said that in order for it to be possible to donate 100-percent of ticket sales, the group tries to find nonprofits that have access to public halls or theaters.

Tanis Brown, president of the historical society, said that the Cox House, a two-story Victorian built in 1888, can benefit from improvements.

"One of the historical houses in the park is in dire need of a new paint job," Brown said.

She said the money from December's shows will be put toward painting that home. "We were just blown away by their generosity," Brown said of Carr's organization.

Art Animates Life has produced shows that have helped struggling organizations, and has raised tens-of-thousands of dollars for local galleries, theaters, outreach centers and area disaster relief groups, according to Carr.

"We're finding they have quite a following," Brown said.

She said that a board member from the historical society will be acting in the play, along with a California State University, San Marcos employee and a board member from another foundation.

"We're happy to have some local people participate in the play," she said.

Bill Kvitli, 2009 San Diego County Teacher of the Year, is a Valley Center resident who has been acting with Art Animates Life for several years.

"This is my first year playing Bob Cratchit," he said. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger.

The theater is located in Walnut Grove Park at 1952 Sycamore Drive in San Marcos.

For a complete listing of times and dates, visit www.smhistory.org and click the events tab.

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