Site-responsive and immersive theatre-makers Creation Theatre and Big Telly Theatre Company present an innovative and fresh take on Lewis Carrolls’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Part of the creative team for Alice, A Virtual Theme Park is playwright Charlotte Keatley, best known for her award-winning play My Mother Said I Never Should, described as one of the significant plays of the 20th century.
Teaming up with Charisma.ai, ground-breakers in interactive and immersive storytelling technology, this digitally advanced production, blends live acting and the latest in AI and online video techniques.
Alice, A Virtual Theme Park launches online this August. What can you tell us about it?
You will go on an adventure: literally down the rabbit hole, via your screen, to meet all sorts of wondrous creatures: the Lewis Carroll characters reimagined for now, this summer, 2020.
You will actively play with them, talk with them, run with them, and have your mind turned upside down.
What makes Lewis Carroll’s classic perfect for a 21st century digitally advanced production?
Because it’s about how far you can imagine things changing… when Lewis Carroll wrote it, maths was starting to challenge logic: for example, mathematicians were finding that two minus one might not be one…
Carroll invented the Alice story to warn what could happen if things no longer follow logical rules- how absurd it would be and how mad we’d feel. Ironically he created an alternative universe that has become part of world culture, and is always relevant! Today we have quantum physics, a world pandemic that’s so tiny we can’t see it, limitless black holes… Creation Theatre and Big Telly Theatre Company in collaboration with Charisma.ai are making a spectacular visual wonder to explore our fears and hopes for a new world.
Tell us about your role in the production?
I’ve written the Mad Hatter’s section – he has an extraordinary world in the hat on his head – you’ll have to watch and see. So, I’ve written a play within a play – he takes us inside his head.
We all have conversations in our heads, some are ones we’ve had, some are the ones we want to have – I’ve written his. And then working with the amazing designer Ryan Laight Dawson, the delightful actor Darmesh Patel, the fearless director Zoe Seaton, and the rest of the technical and production team, we make it three dimensional. I love writing with and for the team like this – I’ve been re writing when we all see something even more outrageous that could happen- we spark each other’s creativity.
What can audiences expect on top of the live performances that makes this different to other online productions?
You will actually enter this Alice wonderland, and play games with the characters, and have conversations. You will move through the landscape- via breakout rooms- and experience different realities.
The visuals are awesome and beautiful, using the latest AI. • What’s been the biggest challenge in putting this production together? You would think it would be isolation, lockdown, wouldn’t you ? Because all our meetings, rehearsals, even costume and prop fittings, are on Zoom. But not at all – this is the third theatre production that Creation theatre have made online since April and the second with Zoe! So, although we are all in different rooms around Britain, when we meet on Zoom to share ideas and solve problems, it actually feels like we are in the same room. I put my hand out to touch the Mad Hatter’s hat last week, forgetting it wasn’t real ! So, I’m going to say the biggest challenge is the post- we have to delay a rehearsal if someone hasn’t received their rabbit ears, or their giant tea cup…
What would you say to anyone thinking of watching Alice, A Virtual Theme Park?
This is genuinely like nothing you will ever have seen in theatre or film. It’s a new kind of live performance, exploding in your room, and you’re watching pioneer companies.
Alice, A Virtual Theme Park runs from 1 -30 August, 4pm and 7pm. For more information go to www.creationtheatre.co.uk
Main Image Charlotte Keatley c. Chris Farrell