A girl called Alice

PUBLISHED: 00:16 29 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:14 20 February 2013

A girl called Alice

A girl called Alice

Chichester Festival Theatre's Christmas production by its Youth Theatre is always an exhilarating explosion of drama and music. This year it is eagerly awaited by two girls in particular, who share the main part of Alice

Emily Dyble and Winter Loseby have been immersed in a magical world ever since September. A world totally different to their every day student one. A world which includes everything from Victorian etiquette to, most importantly, stuff and nonsense. Playing Alice in Alice in Wonderland is very special to both of them,for slightly different reasons.
For Emily, who is in her third year at South Downs College in Waterlooville, it will be her last Youth Theatre performance. I was absolutely ecstatic to get Alice. I have played speaking parts before in other Youth Theatre productions but to get a chance to play a part like this in my last year is just amazing.

Purity of heart
For Winter, who is at Bishop Luffa school in Chichester, this will be her first speaking part in a Youth Theatre production. During the auditions I kept hoping that I might be picked and then to be told I was actually going to play Alice was like a dream for me. I have always been in the chorus before, this is my first chance at a speaking part and I feel ready to step up to the mark now.
Both girls agree that playing the role of Alice is quite a challenge. For me the sheer number of lines is quite daunting , considering I have never even had one line before! says Winter.
Emily says: Its quite a complicated role to take on. You cant play Alice in too childish a way as she represents so much more than just her youth. Alice is a real combination of innocence, honesty and purity of heart but also one of strength, independence and courage. Alice is no push over, in fact she is a very good role model for kids today.
Winter agrees: She is constantly being confronted with so many weird and wonderful situations and characters that she has to make sense of and do so in a polite and self-controlled way as would be expected in Victorian times.
Audiences to this Alice in Wonderland can expect to see a production that remains very true to the original Lewis Carroll story. An important aspect of the rehearsal process for Alice has been to research Carrolls original concepts and to understand the creation of some of the characters and their idiosyncrasies, says Youth Theatre Director Dale Rooks.
The first, most important discovery was that Alice is not a fictitious character. She was Alice Liddell, the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church.
Even more significantly that Lewis Carrolls real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Through his friendship with the Liddell family Dodgson told many stories to Alice and her sisters Lorina and Edith, before the boat trip and famous picnic which produced the main part of Alice In Wonderland.
He often took his cue from Alices remarks and her questions which would immediately set him off on another trial of thoughts some of which are referenced within the stories.
For example, she once remarked that she had often seen a cat without a grin, but never a grin without a cat. A familiar line within the scene when Alice meets the Cheshire Cat, says Dale.
Similarly Dale says it has been fascinating to gain insight into the legacies behind some of the fantastic characters in the original story.

Rare opportunity
The Queen of Hearts is clearly a caricature of Queen Victoria who Carroll described as the embodiment of ungovernable passion, blind and aimless Fury. Whilst the Red Queen is considered to have all the concentrated essence of a Victorian governess, says Dale.
She refers to reports that Carroll found inspiration for the now infamous Cheshire Cat from a gargoyle on a pillar at St Nicholas Church in Cranleigh which he visited frequently when he lived a few miles away in Guildford. He also visited Cheshire where cheese was considered to be moulded like a cat grinning, says Dale.
The Mock Turtles name is taken from a popular Victorian soup dish called mock turtle.
This Christmas production at the Festival Theatre is a rare opportunity to see both Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass on stage. It also offers us a chance to do something else, as both Winter and Emily agree.
Alice is a chance to let go, to realise for one brief spell that its okay to be silly and that its okay to embrace nonsense, to have fun and to be open to new things no matter how improbable.
An attitude that for many of us, as Christmas fast approaches, might be a useful one to adopt.

See the show
Alice in Wonderland runs from 18 December to 1 January at the Chichester Festival Theatre. The show is Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll adapted for the stage by Adrian Mitchell, and set to new music by Matthew Scott.

Tickets are available at the box office or by calling 01243 781312 or visiting www.cft.org.uk

All proceeds from the charity performance on Saturday 18 December at 7.30pm will be donated to Children on the Edge.

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