Lynne Payne On...Alice Through the Winter GardensDate: 24 August 2011
Alice Through the Winter Gardens is a unique production set to thrill audiences in Blackpool. Armed only with a few peculiar props and your wits, you will be guided around the Winter Gardens by an assortment of extraordinary characters. Join the Mad Hatter and his guests at their tea party, meet the illusive Cheshire Cat and dance with royalty in the Empress Ballroom as the many characters of Lewis Carroll’s Alice aim to delight with memories of this famous venue. We spoke to Blackpool born actress, Lynne Payne who plays the Red Queen to find out more.
Tell us a bit about the production, in terms of an experience.
Alice through the Winter Gardens is an entertaining multi-media interactive production with theatre, dance, music and film. It begins with the audience stepping through the looking glass, before they arrive in a surreal world - the idea is that they will feel like Alice, when she fell down the rabbit hole/stepped through the looking glass. The play, I think, incorporates moments from both Alice through the Looking Glass and Alice in Wonderland. This is going to be a new kind of wonderland for the audience. It also be an opportunity for the audience meet all of their favourite characters, from the Mad Hatter to the Queen of Hearts.
How challenging is it to perform in a promenade piece?
I guess I've yet to find out, as this is the first time i've performed in a piece exactly like this. I think the most difficult thing about it is that rehearsals can never truly reflect how it is going to be when you put it in front of an audience - the way an audience reacts to you can really shape your performance as, although we have a script, we also rely on audiences' responses and they may give us responses that we didn't expect - it keeps you, and the character you're playing, on your toes.
What other challenges have you faced within the piece?
We actually don't get to rehearse with all the other actors at the same time, as the show is promenade - so basically, I will mainly be rehearsing with the other actress in my scene, meaning we won't really get a feel for the whole performance. We also have a lot of shows to do in a small amount of time, so that is probably the most challenging thing about this performance... and the fact i'll be in a costume with a tight bodice and 2 metres' of skirt - it's going to look amazing, but won't be the most comfortable of outfits.
The tale of Alice never seems to faltered in terms of audience interest. Why do you think this is?
I think it's a tale that is timeless. I mean, I really enjoyed Tim Burton's 3D film version starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. I also find it interesting how many of the characters show quite vulnerable human traits - the mad hatter, for example, shows neurological symptoms with his agitated and erratic behaviour. For that reason, I think Alice can be interpreted in so many different ways and I don't think it will ever lose interest. In fact, a really gritty version of it would be interesting... maybe I should produce one?!
What will people get to see of the Winter Gardens which may to new to them?
The audience will get to see backstage areas that they may not normally be able to access, for instance there is a scene that takes place where the audience themselves will stand on the glorious opera house stage, so that will be a really unique experience. The design is also going to be really interesting, playing with perspectives as if the audience has taken the 'drink me' bottle that has changed their size.
What's it like coming home?
It's going to be great to get back in touch with friends and family I haven't seen for a while. Also revisiting old haunts I used to hang out at - I'm looking forward to it, though Blackpool has changed dramatically since I left.
What are your future plans?
When I finish this production, I start work on a dance performance down in Stafford. I then start work on a feature film, which is an adaptation of a new play that I toured with a few years' ago. I run a film and theatre production company, Rotten Park Road, so i'll be both producing the film and also performing in it as well. I'm really looking forward to starting work on that - I think it could be something really big.
Why should audiences come and see Alice?
This is going to be a hugely entertaining, one-off show that is totally different to most theatre. It is something that all ages can enjoy and also it'll be brilliant to see how the Winter Gardens, a stunning and unique venue, will be transformed into a world of Alice. It's also really excellent value for money.
Lynne Payne was speaking to Glenn Meads
Alice Through the Winter Gardens runs at the Blackpool Winter Gardens from 14 - 18 September.
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