Literary classic reimagined in Canning Town show

James Kenworth has written Alice in Canning Town, a reimagining of the classic story Alice in Wonder

James Kenworth has written Alice in Canning Town, a reimagining of the classic story Alice in Wonderland. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Canning Town may not be the first place that comes to mind as a wonderland - but it’s the setting for a dramatic new retelling of a literary classic.

Alice in Canning Town - based on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland - brings a 21st century east London twist to the popular story.

"It's a reimagining," said playwright James Kenworth. "It's quite a radical new retelling.

"It's a reflection of how the East End has changed.

"We've got a Cockney White Rabbit, an ex-Bollywood star Caterpillar and a couple of hipsters.

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"I think it's more diverse than ever as a borough and I wanted to reflect that."

James, from Beckton, is no stranger to reinventing classic stories in modern settings, having previously written Revolution Farm - a version of George Orwell's Animal Farm staged and set on Newham City Farm.

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He is once again teaming up with director James Martin Charlton - also a Newham native - who he worked with on Revolution Farm and A Splotch of Red, a play about former MP Keir Hardie.

The plays have a common aim of exploring the borough's rich heritage and showcasing the talents of its young people.

"Last time I did this it was two years ago," James said.

"They have each involved a mixture of professional actors and young people from Newham."

This year's play will again involve both primary and secondary school pupils taking on roles alongside professionals, providing aspring thespians with an insight into the theatre world.

And those who want to watch are asked to pay whatever they can afford - whether it's just a few pence or several pounds.

James explained that he didn't want the cost of the tickets to be a barrier to anyone wanting to see the show.

All proceeds will go towards the Terence Brown Arc in the Park, where the show is being staged.

The show runs from Monday, August 12 to Sunday, August 18, with evening shows at 7.30pm Monday to Saturday and 3pm matinees Friday to Sunday.

To reserve a space at any of the performances, which are suitable for ages 12+, visit

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