ALICE IN WINTERLAND Q&A WITH SUSANNAH VAN DEN BERG ‘QUEEN OF HEARTS’
What made you keen to join the cast of Alice in Winterland? I’ve seen a few Christmas productions at The Rose, as well as being involved in several community scratch choirs. I have always been impressed with the production values and the commitment and energy of the youth theatre. I was also excited about tackling a brand new script and original score, being involved in creating something new and fresh.
What is Alice in Winterland about? The setting of the original books has been changed to during the First World War. Using elements and characters from the two books it’s essentially a coming of age story for Alice. Through her adventures in Wonderland she gains the strength and courage to deal with the trauma and responsibilities of reality.
Tell us a bit about your character. What are you most enjoying about playing The Queen of Hearts? The Queen of Hearts is a delicious megalomaniac, rather like a modern day dictator. I’m finding her such fun to play because she has no limits. I have the ability to be as silly or outrageous as I like because my court allows me to get away with anything. Like anyone in great power, the chance of being overthrown is always present so I’ve chosen to rule by fear.
What particular challenges does this role present to you as an actor? Vocally it’s a big role - lots of shouting “Off With Their Heads” - so sustaining that will be a big task. Delivering a pretty spectacular battle scene whilst wearing a massive dress is also going to be challenging!
Alice in Winterland, is based on Lewis Carroll’s timeless books, Alice Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Why do you think these characters have such an enduring appeal? They’re magnifications of human nature - all elements we recognise in ourselves taken to huge proportions. They’re all things we could become.
The production sees a professional cast and a youth company perform together. What has it been like working alongside Rose Youth Company? Really fantastic. They have such great energy and focus that could shame some other professional companies! Working with two separate casts is a joy as a performer as you get different performances to play off, meaning no show will be the same. The company really works as a true ensemble, they are generous to each other and there are no small parts. Slotting into a company like this is incredibly exciting.
Why do you think people should come and see Alice in Winterland? The story is incredible and the families who come to see it will go on a real journey with Alice. There’s puppets, magic, monsters, a new script with an electrifying original score, some terrible jokes, beautiful costumes & scenery and snow... there’s definitely snow. Entertaining yet life affirming.
Alice In Winterland will be at Rose Theatre Kingston from Thu 7 Dec – Sun 7 Jan. Tickets cost from £15 and are available online, rosetheatrekingston.org, by phone, 020 8174 0090, or from the Box Office