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Alice in Brexitland
Friday 1 February 2019 at 20.30
Saturday 2 February 2019 at 17.00
Sunday 3 February 2019 at 17.00
Tuesday 4 February 2019 at 20.30
Click on link below to show location
Eight o’clock on 24 June 2016, in a retirement care home somewhere in England, an elderly lady waits in her room to hear the official result of the referendum. She is anxious, constantly eyeing her looking-glass. Who is she, and who are all the carers in this curious establishment?
In this original creation by Tagora – mostly in English, but not exclusively – Alice sets out once more into the world imagined by Lewis Carroll, searching desperately for the White Rabbit whose magic watch can turn back time. She meets many old friends – the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum… But will she manage to find the White Rabbit in time?
Her journey, told in scene and song, is directed by Louise Palmer.
In January 2019, Strasbourg’s multi-national amateur theatre will be performing a play for our times called Alice in Brexitland. It is a commentary on the strange language and thinking behind the departure of Britain from the EU, cloaked in one of Britain’s favourite fantasies, Alice in Wonderland.
Your editor Catherine Manini thought it would be interesting to hear about the building bricks that create a performance, from the original conception to treading the boards and so, this month we bring you the first insight, from Tagora’s doyenne, Louise Palmer, who is the show’s director.
I know it sounds trite but Tagora really is one big multi-national happy (most of the time) family. Since it’s been
over six years since we did a really big show, we felt it was time to do another.
We had discussed the idea of creating something around Lewis Carroll’s tales several years ago but, after the result
of UK referendum, Alice’s adventures in that fantasy world didn’t seem so far divorced from our own.
Thus, we writers (David Adamson & Hazel Breslin, Martyn and Janis Symons, Elena Malagoni, Richard Thayer, Jenny
Griffith, David Crowe, Simon Palmer and Liam Wright) got together. Each of us chose an excerpt from the original
and then added an extra touch of topical magic. So by the end of May, we had a working script.
Who to choose – who to refuse? Not this time. Anyone who wanted to perform was welcome, we just added another
character ! At the present count, we have over 40 performers – French, Italian, Spanish, Estonian, Macedonian, Irish, German, British – not to mention the children.
We did our first casted reading at the beginning of July with an attendance rate of more than 90%, which is amazing as the holidays had already begun.
Now it’s eyes down and into serious rehearsal where the first task is to “block in” the entrances/exits and moves that
every actor makes on stage
At this time the actors will still have their scripts in their hand but before November the text must be cast aside and everyone should be “off the book”. Characterisation and interpretation develop slowly over the rehearsal period often with the addition of a small prop – a handkerchief, spectacles, a walking stick etc – a useful aid to finding the part.
Directors are very possessive of the work in hand. They guide every move, every line their actors make and in the best of circumstances they are proud to claim it as their own. However there comes a moment, usually during final rehearsals, when suddenly and unexpectedly the balance between actor and direction changes. Nothing is said but they know and you know that they, the actors, have seized possession and now the fruit of all that work belongs to them alone. From experience I can tell you, it’s humbling !
Next month Simon will be filling you in on the musical aspects of our production.
Louise Palmer, Director
For more information have a look at http://www.tagora.eu
As promised a few words frrom Simon Palmer
The Alice diary: the musical director’s tale
Some aspects of theatre are more technical than others, and one of those is music. Most people can sing, including many who think they can’t. Certainly some people like singing and sing more than others; that means they tend to have developed their vocal range more and know more about it. Some can read music.
It’s slightly different with players of instruments: people tend not to play an instrument when in the shower or at the wheel – although many guitarists are known to “noodle” while watching television.
Tagora likes working with live music and Alice is a musical show so there will be quite a lot of it. As musical director, I have been working with the writing team and the director for many months choosing and arranging songs to be “borrowed” (all rights duly paid, of course) as well as composing original music.
The ensemble is based around “The Other Guys”, the rock band I’ve been privileged to play in for a few
years, but is augmented by a number of guest players, complemented by the non-rock skills of the band
members. The range of music is eclectic to say the least, but does involve at least one loud, original rock song.
The arrangement and composition have been centred around the strengths of the company, the singers and
the players. Some cast members know quite a lot of the songs already and have been practising them since
before the Summer holiday. But now there are some heavy rehearsals ahead: everyone needs to be excellent by 31 January.
So when you come to see Alice – as we truly hope you will – and you see me dressed in black waving my arms about, think of the months of work that have gone into the music, and enjoy it. We will have spared no effort to ensure that you do.
Stage decor for Alice in Brexitland
About 10 years ago I offered my services to Tagora as a scene painter/set designer for their produc2ons. Having had 20+ years experience as an interior designer/specialist decorator and mural ar2st, I felt qualified to do so !
The first project I was involved with was contributing a few custom-made props to a chaotic set for a play called Red Hot in Amsterdam. This play was entered for a festival in Brussels. After the performance, the first comment the adjudicator made was about the shambolic set design! Not a very auspicious beginning …
The following year Tagora staged the brilliant Brian Friel play, Dancing in
Lughnasa. The brief was to create two sets, side by side. One was of the interior of a 1930s dining room and the other was of a country garden in a rural serng. The play (and the set!) was a big success and I became a regular member of the Tagora production team.
The latest production is Alice in Brexitland, an original play based on the story of Alice in Wonderland but with a political dimension, taking place on the eve of the referendum. It is to be performed at the end of January/beginning of February 2019.
I decided to base my set design on the original drawings by Sir John Tenniel.
There will be 10 large panels (see photos), which will help illustrate the various scenes as well as providing general decoration for the stage and foyer. Hope to see you there!
Here is the next instalment of The Alice Diaries, telling about preparations for Tagora’s unique show, Alice in Brexitland *, opening in Strasbourg on 31 January.
The Alice Diaries: Tagora’s Wardrobe Mistress
Being responsible for the costumes in this kind of production is a dream for any wardrobe mistress, because there is no limit to what you can do with the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the awful Red Queen and all the marvellous characters imagined by Lewis Carroll, and brought to life by our gifted Tagoran authors!
No limit … that is if you do not count the usual tricky problems to deal with, for example the huge cast (more than 35 actors having at least 2 costumes each), the need to change costumes in no time (mostly in the wings, in the dark and silently!), the absence of a front curtain in the Cube Noir, and so on…
But all that is nothing compared to my chief challenge: the fact that all male actors aged from 10 to 80 detest wearing wigs and tights! This has been a recurrent nightmare for them (and/or me) for the last 30 years of Tagora plays in period costumes, from Shakespeare to Sheridan. It took a lot of diplomacy and bargaining and the strong support of our director for Romeo to wear his wig and Tybalt his tights…
For “Alice” I try to keep in mind the wonderful illustrations by Sir John Tenniel, which are well known to everybody. I found half of our costumes in the huge Tagora stock, but for the other half (the animals, for example), I had to buy material and accessories in brocantes and second-hand shops, not to mention all the Emmaus centres around Alsace which I visit regularly.
Actors, with their very special talents, help in my search for specific items. “Mr Chenille”, an ex-colleague translator in the Council of Europe, made four magnificent crowns, and the White Rabbit (photo above), a gifted dressmaker, is responsible for several costumes in addition to her own.
I attend most rehearsals, but the one I prefer is the first dress rehearsal when all the actors really get into their characters. This is a magical moment! I hope that the spectators will have as much fun watching them play as I had dressing them.
* At the Cube Noir, Koenigshoffen from 31 January to 5 February 2019
Tickets can be purchased at: www.weezevent.com/alice-in-brexitland
In January, for the final instalment of The Alice Diaries, Bridget O’Loughlin will report on her multiple characters in the play, ranging from the Matron, the Narrator in the Walrus and the Carpenter to the Red Queen… A sight and sound to behold, for sure.
Invitation The ESC invites you to a pre-show apéro at the Cube Noir on Friday
1 February from 19h until the show begins, so we hope many ESC members can see the show that night. As usual, the ESC is pleased to offer light food, but also crémant until it runs out! Thereafter, members buy their own drinks.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm attendance. See you there!