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Playwright hails 'fantastic' response to Alice in Canning Town show

PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 August 2019

Alice in Canning Town was staged at the Terence Brown Arc in the Park. Picture: James Kenworth

Alice in Canning Town was staged at the Terence Brown Arc in the Park. Picture: James Kenworth

James Kenworth

The show must go on, as the saying goes - and that's exactly what happened when a week of outdoor performances of Alice in Canning Town was faced with the Great British weather.

It was a contemporary take on Alice in Wonderland. Picture: James KenworthIt was a contemporary take on Alice in Wonderland. Picture: James Kenworth

The show - staged at the Terence Brown Arc in the Park - was playwright James Kenworth's dramatic retelling of Alice in Wonderland, bringing the plot and characters into a 21st century East End environment.

"It was really great, despite the weather," James, from Beckton, said. "It was a real privilege.

"It's probably the most unique space to put on a play that I have ever experienced, but it did shred my nerves wondering whether it was going to rain."

Three of the nine performances had to be cancelled due to the bad weather, but James was thrilled with the turn out, including a sold-out Sunday performance.

The cast featured children and professional actors. Picture: James KenworthThe cast featured children and professional actors. Picture: James Kenworth

He said the response from audience members, including East Ham MP Stephen Timms, had been "fantastic".

The play, which was directed by James Martin Charlton, featured a mixture of professional actors and young people from Newham.

Pupils from Gallions Primary School, Royal Docks Academy and Kingsford Community took part, with James praising them as "super talented".

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"One of the young actors even had his own fan club," he added.

"He played MC Turtle, a take on the Mock Turtle being a rapper, and children came up to me after the show and said 'can we meet MC Turtle?'"

Admission to the show was pay what you want, with all the proceeds - a total of £429.83 - going to Ambition, Aspire, Achieve.

"As well as the proceeds to AAA, I think it's also raised the profile of Arc in the Park," James said.

"Lots of residents are now more aware of it. I know a few of the young people have signed up to activites at AAA, too."

And as for James' next play?

"I can tell you now, it won't be outside," he said.

"There are lots of great spaces to hold performances in Newham.

"It's a case of choosing a subject matter for them."

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