Q&A: Children's classic Alice in Wonderland reimagined at Polka Theatre by director Rosamunde Hutt
Lewis Carroll’s well-known characters become curiouser and curiouser in this Rosamunde Hutt's interpretation of the classic tale Alice in Wonderland.
Lauren May spoke to her about the play.
Lauren May: You have put a twist on the original tale in this production. What can audiences expect from this adaptation?
Rosamunde Hutt: Writer Simon Reade has brushed off any sweet sentiment that has grown up around the tale of Alice. This adaptation is very true to the original; full of nonsense, inexplicable events, oddball characters and a rather terrifying Queen of Hearts.
We have dusted off the story’s Victorian setting and set the play in Alice’s attic.
Surrounded by toys and objects banished from downstairs, she creates the world of Wonderland in her imagination and embarks on a fantastical adventure in which she finds her own voice and learns to be courageous and stand up for herself.
When we shine a 21st century light on this tale we realise it is a testament to the importance of creative play, spontaneity and the imagination.
We recognise how crucial it is to let children dream, play and let their imaginations run wild.
LM: Why do you think Alice in Wonderland has remained so popular over the years?
RH: The story transcends the Victorian age in which it was written because of the timeless character of Alice. She is a very modern girl, who could go to your school or live around the corner from you. And the characters she invents are now firm favourites in our culture. The March Hare, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit - who can resist their crazy personalities and wonderful word play.
LM: What do you enjoy about directing children’s theatre?
RH: There is nothing quite like seeing a child spellbound by the magic of powerful storytelling; shared with friends and family. Children spot every detail in a production and their honest feedback keeps you on your toes. The relationship between the actors on stage and a children’s audience is fresh, alive and dynamic. It’s simply the most rewarding experiment and it keeps me young at heart.
LM: Who is your favourite character from Alice in Wonderland and why?
RH: For every play I direct I jump feet first into a different Wonderland. I meet a myriad of characters, I visit a variety of unusual places, and I solve a lot of riddles along the way. So I think Alice is my favourite. Although I wonder whether I’m quite as brave as she is.
LM: What was your favourite book growing up?
RH: I loved The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I think her theme of a child being the agent of change, bringing happiness to a world starved of love and creativity, is central to nearly every children’s classic.
LM: Are there any other children’s novels you would like to turn into children’s stage production?
RH: Any book by the late Eva Ibbotson. I was lucky enough to direct her Journey to the River Sea for Theatre Centre and the Unicorn Theatre. Her heroines are fearless, intrepid, curious and intelligent, just like Alice.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Polka Theatre, 240 the Broadway, Wimbledon; November 22 to February 15; £10-£16; polkatheatre.com, 020 8543 4888.
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