Alice and Earnest hit the road in Sussex tour

Sarah Slator
Sarah Slator

Just three actors are hitting the road this summer in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Importance of Being Earnest on a tour which will take them to church, open-air and historical venues across the county. Venues include the Petworth Festival, Chichester, Hove and Crawley.

Hazel O’Neill, Ethan Taylor and Matthew Tweddle are the actors performing in new adaptations by Sarah Slator, artistic director and founder of Upper Beeding-based This Is My Theatre company.

As Sarah says, the aim of the company is to produce classical plays and literature that are accessible to all, particularly those living in rural communities.

She started the company two years ago, and this is their biggest summer so far.

“This is the first time we have put out two plays together. We premiered both of the shows at Brighton Open Air Theatre last year, running one one day and the other another day. Now they are running together.”

It all adds up to impressive progress for such a young company: “I think we have been really fortunate in the venues and the audiences we have had, and we have had great reviews. The reputation of the company is starting to grow which makes it much more stable for us to expand, plus I have also learnt a little bit from what we have done so far with other tours. We have got a great pool of actors to draw on, but for me it is also about marketing the show and about how to adapt the shows for the different venues. I think that’s something that we do well, to be able to create one show that can go into a church or an open space or a country house. We are even performing Alice in a cafe. Creating one show that is really adaptable, I think that is what I have learnt most, and I think people really like it, something the audience can really relate to. They are enthusiastic for the fact that the show feels like it has been created just for them where they are, rather than a generic show that is the same for everyone.”

The tour of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland includes: July 22 – Bignor Park as part of Petworth Festival; and August 8 – Guildhall, Chichester, 3pm. The Importance of Being Earnest plays August 12 – St Wilfrid’s Church, Church Norton, Selsey, 3pm and 7pm.

“For me, it is also about going to unexpected places, to take theatre to rural places. We are doing a few city locations, but even those are not your typical theatre spaces. We still do a lot of redundant churches. But then it surprises me that people are surprised that we are so good when we take theatre to them. I think ‘Why are you surprised that theatre is so good just because we have brought it to you rather than you having to go to it!’ But then again, our reputation is growing.”

As for the choice of shows: “I just love Alice in Wonderland. It is completely mad, but I just love the way it is written, the language of the original stories. We are doing very much the book brought to life rather than doing our own totally-new adaptation. The language is the language of Lewis Carroll, which is what I love doing when I adapt books. You start with the original text, reading it through a few times, and as you read it, the way to stage it starts coming through and you realise how you can do this and how you can do that.

“For me, the story is just fun. Everyone will have their own ideas as to what it actually means, what the characters are supposed to be about, but for me, it is just fun really.” www.thisismytheatre.com or 07732 253311; 70 minutes.

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