Nonsense is such a difficult genre to deal with, says theatre person Choiti Ghosh
Choiti Ghosh, Object theatre practitioner, actor, writer & director
1. What inspired you to adapt Alice in Wonderland for the stage?
Alice… is such a popular book, one feels an automatic scepticism about picking it up, it belongs to ‘everyone’ and so many things have been done with it. Alice escapes from a ‘boring hot day’ into a mad world. We took this premise as a metaphor. We need an escape from our ‘boring hot days’ (in this play we interpreted it as a routine mundane life)...and an escape that we often do not have the luxury of or have forgotten how to. For a very short while to be, dream, be mad and not have to make sense at all. But our adult lives do not permit us this indulgence into imagination. This was the conceptual inspiration. I felt that a book as wonderfully mad and complex as this would present huge challenges with object theatre, and there I was right.
2. What were the most challenging aspects of adapting this work?
Nonsense is such a difficult genre to deal with! Our constant tendency is to make some sort of sense. That was the most challenging part. Puppetry is a great medium through which to create fantastical creatures and characters, but nonsense is a different ball game. Carroll’s story doesn’t logically flow from one episode to the next, things just happen. The episodes in themselves are really far out.
Some things that work well in books, don’t work too well onstage, because it looks un-relatable or childish. I didn’t want to create or construct grotesque-looking puppets and take audiences into a world which they’re unable to create for themselves, because we were firm in our premise...an imaginative escape is what each of us should be able to create.
3. What’s your favourite episode/moment in the play?
Universally, everyone’s favourite moment is when Alice becomes big for the first time. We created the size difference in perspective by creating a mini-city around her; that, and the scene with the pool of tears. Those are great moments as an object theatre practitioner.
Choiti Ghosh started India’s first object theatre company, Tram Theatre, in 2010. She will stage Alice in Wonderland, her third production in the city over the weekend. The play has been inspired by Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and uses multiple forms such as object theatre, shadow puppetry, music, songs and puppetry. Ghosh has done a workshop at the Institut International de la Marionette in France, where working professionals were taught the art of object theatre.
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