A White Rabbit in a constant hurry and fear of a crazy Queen, the Queen of hearts! It seems, her favorite activity is to behead whoever makes a mistake, disobey or simply annoys her. Can you blame the White Rabbit for being afraid of her? The King is the only man that seems to make her heart melt. Is he also afraid of her? More likely, yes! Nicola Bagala and Veera Wikström are answering some interesting questions regarding their character and their contribution to Alice´s story.
Q: Tell me about your character
Nicola: My character, the White Rabbit is a spineless moron who is mortally afraid of the Queen like everyone else. We established while we were having discussions about character development, that he hates his job but he has to do it. So, he only cares about getting it done for the sake of getting it done, not being beheaded which is the favorite pass-time of the Queen.
Veera: The Queen is pretty much the main antagonist of the show. She is talked about throughout the play, the Mad Hatter exclaiming how she beheaded Time, the General mentioning that only those who don’t know her might ever want to meet her. Her gardeners are deathly afraid of her, and can barely form a coherent sentence in her presence. Alice is at first in awe of meeting Royalty, but soon realizes that this particular Queen is just as mad as the rest of the Wonderland population, though in a far more dangerous way.
Q: What makes your character special?
Nicola: In the play, the White Rabbit is the character who builds the dream that Alice is in as it goes on. He is in between, because in one way the White Rabbit is sort of part of Wonderland. He lives through the things that happen there, he is afraid of the Queen, he is worried that he is late or when Alice says something silly he freaks out and tells her off. But at the same time, technically speaking, he builds the set by carrying things around and make the dream happen. But the White Rabbit, when he is moving things around, he is not really interacting with the rest of the scene. That’s the one thing I can think that makes him special, that he is sort of in between. He is some kind of interface of Alice within the crazy world that she is in.
Veera: While the whole Wonderland is mad in some sense or other, the Queen is quite special in that her madness is vicious and evil. She gets pleasure from death and destruction, and seems to become more affectionate with the Kingwhenever he leans towards more violent solutions. She has no friends, though the closest to such a thing would be her right-hand man, the Executioner (which tells us everything we need to know). She is very used to getting the attention she thinks she deserves, and when Alice stands up against her, her entire worldview goes slightly off kilter. That’s when the temperamental screeches of “OFF WITH HER HEAD!” come into play.
Q: What challenges did you face?
Nicola: I hate the first scene! I am the first character to step on stage. I am rushing through the stage and I am late and the lines are a little awkward. I had a very hard time acting out this scene because I don’t identify with the character in that spot. At the beginning in comes across as if he is just worried that he is late. Only in the middle of his rambling does he realize that the Queen is going to behead him if he is not on time. It was really difficult to convey this change, that first he is just worried he is late in general and only later he realizes that the Queen is the reason he is afraid of in the first place, she doesn’t like that he is late and she has a passion with cutting heads off. That was the only difficult part of the character which is a rather small role. He appears as a speaking character again only towards the end of the play where he actually interacts with other characters. And that is easier than running around alone. I find that more difficult.
Veera: I have never gotten the chance to play a villain before, and indeed my previous roles have not been allowed to take the stage for themselves in the same way as the Queen does. It’s a lot of fun, but was also something new that I needed to get used to. Her screeching is also something I had to develop a technique for so I don’t lose my voice, but the hardest thing was to incorporate her feelings towards her husband. She is cruel and crazy, yet she flirts and giggles around the King like a girl in love. Luckily with some direction this was worked out, and in fact the small moments between them only enhance her madness.
Nicola: It is going to be flashy, there are going to be a lot of colors and crazy make ups. If people are into this, they like something colorful and very visual, then they are going to enjoy it. The play ends with a twist, there is something that people probably do not expect. That is another reason. And there is something they might be wondering about throughout the entire play ‘Why is there another Alice walking around?’. That’s a reason to come and see it too.
Veera: I would recommend this play, not only because it is a classic and tells us a story we all remember from childhood, but because the actors working on it are all incredible and manage to capture their roles in beautiful and unique ways. The audience is in for a great many laughs, and also some pretty serious inner contemplation about their own lives and how scary change can be. It’s definitely a play worth seeing.
Photo Credits: Salomon Marttila
Jason Pizzarello’s Alice in Wonderland is Thespians Anonymous’ play for Autumn 2018. Shows are on the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th of November, 2018 in Hurjaruuth, Kaapelitehdas, Tallberginkatu 1 A Helsinki. For more information visit Thespians Anonymous’ Facebook page as well as the event page on Facebook.