Alice in Wonderland inspires power of imagination

By Kedibone Modise Time of article published Mar 8, 2020

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The magical tale of Alice in Wonderland begins when a young girl named Alice follows a jittery white rabbit from the palace down a dark dingy burrow to a tiny door where she discovers the magical world she’s been longing for. 

A world full of swimming mice and dodo races, and Cheshire cats with smiling faces. And so the adventure of Alice begins… Lewis Carroll’s much-loved classic tale is brought to life with a fun and funky flair in this brand new production directed by Néka da Costa.

Chatting to Da Costa, the young, vibrant director says the brief was clear that the production was to be totally based on the original novel infused with the South African flavour that will resonate with both the young and old audience members.

“The first thing that was very important was to have a diverse cast that represented the diverse children that we find in our audiences.

“And the second thing that we’ve done is we’ve taken the kind of classical characters that you would expect, and we have put a little bit of contemporary South African spin on them. 

'We’ve used South African accents, or recognisable South African characters so that we can bring the localisation into the picture.

Currently showing at Pieter Toerien Theatre, Alice in Wonderland allows the young and old audiences to explore and witness the power and the influence of their imagination running wild.

“I think the biggest thing about Alice in Wonderland is that it encourages audiences, both young and old, to use and reignite their imagination. Alice goes from one kind of fantasy to another. 

"And in each fantasy, there’s something that comes alive that we know is impossible, but for her she makes it all possible. The reason why we need to go back to using our imaginations is that we’re kind of locked up by technology. This show really gives us an opportunity to tap into that childhood imagination, and that’s very powerful.

“And we are very specific about going back to the book Alice In Wonderland, so this production is not an adaptation of the various films or Disney adaptation, it is an adaptation of the original book.

“And we also make sure that Alice is a reader of books and that she uses her imagination from the beginning to the end. The aim is to make the children see that you can engage in other forms of art, theatre and books and reading more than just TV and the internet.”

The cast of Alice in Wonderland. Picture: Christiaan Kotze

Alice is played by Gugu Dhlamini, the rising star whose recent work includes the Jack and The Beanstalk by Janice Honeyman and Pied Piper at the
Children’s Theatre.

“Gugu brings this gorgeous sincerity and feistiness to Alice that really makes you believe her story. And she plays Alice so gracefully. It’s a pleasure to watch. That goes with all the rest of the cast members. They are all professionals, and their passion is so visible on stage.”

The show is also very interactive, especially because the young audience like to be part of the show. Da Costa says they’ve put some actors in the middle of the audience, so the audience can feel like part of the narrative.

The cast of Alice in Wonderland. Picture: Christiaan Kotze

“We had a really nice mix of adults and children in the audience. And it always makes it much more magical when you have that mix because the children are so fascinated by the colours and the lights and the characters and specific moments in the story, and then the adults are inspired to find the child inside of
them, and then they start to relate to those aspects. And of course, they relate to the kind of jokes that are put out as well.”

Alice In Wonderland is showing at Pieter Toerien Theatre, Montecasino till March 22. Tickets are available at Computicket from R130.

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