CHICHESTER is in for a treat this Christmas with two fine young actresses sharing the part of Alice in Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s production of Alice In Wonderland.
Winter Loseby and Emily Dyble will alternate in the role - and it’s a massive one. As Emily says, it’s the thread that runs right through.
But they’re both approaching it with an infectious enthusiasm which is sure to succeed. We talk to both about their big, big moment on the CFT stage.
In the past, Bishop Luffa sixth-former Winter Loseby has invariably been a rabbit or a bee - which has been absolutely fine and fun, she insists.
“I have always been just so grateful to take part. It has just been fantastic to be in it at all.”
But this year, 16-year-old Winter is really stepping up. She’s more than ready: “I know that I can do it.”
Key to it all will be negotiating the sheer volume of lines: “Alice says pretty much every other line in the play. I have never had a speaking role at all before. It’s so exciting.
“But I am really embracing it. It’s the fact that you are under so much pressure and
the fact that you are carrying the show. It’s just wonderful, but it is also scary. It’s that mixed feeling of terror and amazement, But I am really ready to show what I can do.”
It’s a mad, mad story, Winter says. But something important is going on underneath the madness, she believes.
“What I think it is really about is embracing imagination, embracing nonsense because everybody needs a bit of nonsense in their lives! Otherwise life is just the same day after day. You’ve got to have a bit of silliness in life to get by and to go out and enjoy yourself!”
And that was was all the more important in Alice’s Victorian England, where children were expected to behave like little adults. Alice In Wonderland is all about reclaiming that childhood fun.
“Alice is very trusting. She just goes with the situation even though it does not really make any sense, but she is really mature. That’s very apparent. It is all about her growing up. The real Alice was very upper class and always expected to behave like a young adult, but her imagination is so strong that it is a way for her to escape and to have fun.
Emily Dyble puts her finger on exactly why Alice speaks to us all so well.
“Alice is all about the inner child in people”, says Emily who will be alternating the role with Winter.
“She has great enthusiasm for everything that is new. She has got a very open approach to anything and everything. She is very respectful but without the inhibitions of an adult.”
It’s important not to portray her as a baby; just as importantly, she mustn’t be twee, says 18-year-old Emily who lives in Chichester.
“We’ve done a lot of work on her so as not to fall into the various traps, such as making her too expressive. She is a child so I have been told to pull back a bit so that you keep that purity of childhood
“Everything she does is instinctive. She is the link between the audience and the characters. She is dreaming up all the character for the audience.”
Emily brings to it all vast experience with the Youth Theatre. This is her seventh successive main-house Christmas show with the company.
“It’s just amazing being on stage. I just love it. It’s just so nice to feel that you are in that different world. It’s the costume and all the technical stuff... and when it all comes together it makes it into a different world that you enter.”
Not surprisingly, Alice is Emily’s biggest role with the Youth Theatre, a role which sees her on the stage virtually the whole time.
“You pop off every so often but just to come back on again somewhere else.”
But Emily makes the point: “No scene is really ever Alice’s big scene. Alice is the thread that runs through the scenes, which is what makes this so good as a youth theatre production. There are lots of characters that are sizeable and everyone can own their scene.”
Emily’s dream would be a career in acting: “I will pursue it but obviously it is very unpredictable and competitive. You have just got to go into it with an open mind. If I don’t manage to do it, then hopefully I can manage something on the educational side.”
Alice In Wonderland is at Chichester Festival Theatre from until January 1. Tickets on 01243 781312.