Alice’s Adventures Underground, an Immersive Theatre experience which is popular in the U.K., will start its first show in Shanghai as part of its Chinese version tour at the end of this year.
Developed by the British producers in Shanghai, the Chinese version of Alice’s Adventures Underground will be imported by WE Culture Connect (hereinafter WECC) and produced by Yidiantong Cultural Communication Corporation (hereinafter Yidiantong) – announced in the press launch 20 June 2017 (GMT), according to Les Enfants Terribles and ebp, the British creators and producers of the show, and WECC and Yidiantong. This show aims to reproduce the real Wonderland for Chinese audiences.
By various artistic forms including the drama on the stage, the Immersive Theatre tells the whole story in a certain space with an independent art installation. However, different from the traditional relationship between the performer and the audience who are merely passive bystanders, immersive theatre includes the audience in the drama. When actors and actresses are giving the performance, the audience also plays a role, whether that is the role of witness to the entire range of sensory experiences or the role of an actual character within the drama. Therefore, the audience will experience unique feelings from different perspectives. The show was the brainchild of Les Enfants Terribles, one of the most innovative and exciting theatre companies working today. They were hailed by THE GUARDIAN as, ‘A talented company with a very sure sense of its own distinctive storytelling style.’
As the concept of the Immersive Theatre has been increasingly popular in China in recent years, many Chinese directors have started their works of Immersive Theatre.
In the U.K., the cradle of Immersive Theatre, it is Alice’s Adventures Underground that holds the coveted place of the most successful hit among many Immersive Theatre shows. With the premiere in 2015 in London, the show was adapted from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and produced by Les Enfants Terribles and Emma Brünjes. According to The Guardian, “as an exquisite reproduction of the original story, the show helps adults who forget how to have fun retrieve childlike innocence”. In addition, it was one of the nominees of the Laurence Olivier Awards in 2016, leading to so much fever for Immersive Theatre in London that it became hard to get the ticket at that time. As an Immersive Theatre show, Alice’s Adventures Underground has also carried the most business value and artistic merits in the U.K. from 2015 till now.
Emma Brünjes, the producer of the British version of the show, has stated, “we are honoured to not only be creating our Wonderland in China but to be building our very own venue as well. This opportunity is testament to the show’s success and innovation which led to our Olivier Award nomination in 2016. We can’t wait to welcome you to Wonderland in China.”
Oliver Lansley, the show’s Co-Director, Co-Writer and Artistic Director with Les Enfants Terribles and James Seager, Co-Director and Producer for Les Enfant Terribles added: “When we first dreamed up the idea of the show five years ago we never would have imagined that it would be going to China. We are so proud and overwhelmingly exited for Alice’s next journey and to bring this innovative show to a brand-new audience.”
Cooperating with a well-known British construction company, producers create the large space for the interaction-oriented performance with light, movable containers. Therefore, the audience are close to performers and scenery. With over 30 specially designed rooms in which different scenes are played, the show provides choices for the audience so that they can participate in various scenes and finish the performance with all the performers. In the versions for both kids and adults, the audience can watch and even participate in classic scenes such as “Drink Me and Eat Me” and “The Tea Party”. They can enjoy the impressive Rabbit Hole, the large, mysterious caterpillar, the grinning Cheshire Cat, severe Queen of Hearts, the lost Alice and the mad tea party. Apart from the exquisite setting and immersive experience, there will be one-on- one interactive plots in every storyline in Alice’s Adventures Underground. Thus, the audience members are encouraged to accept the performers’ invitation to be a part of the show because it will be more special and impressive compared with watching the story itself.
In the press conference, the producer and the Chinese copyright owners attracted much attention, namely, Xie Yi, and the young entrepreneur team headed by Li Dian, CEO of Yidiantong. With a love of British theatre, Xie Yi has devoted herself to copyright trade and production in the theatre industry since 2014. She has invested in and co-produced the musical The Wind in the Willows. This April, the company acted as a bridge between a well-known Chinese video website and Laurence Olivier Awards so that Chinese audiences can watch the live broadcast for the first time.
Chinese producer and copyright owner of Alice’s Adventures Underground, Xie Yi said, “I was excited to see the show two years ago. The work of fiction was published in 1865, and has brought inspiration to countless children and adults. In 2015, the fiction was reproduced which gives us the opportunity to chase the white rabbit and run wild in the amazing Wonderland personally. The adult version of the show is cool and mysterious while the kids’ show is full of fun, interactive entertainment. As the saying goes, work hard, play harder. We wish to create content with good quality and provide urban creatures a comprehensive entertainment product to enjoy after work or school.”
The Chinese version of the show will be produced by Yidiantong and leading production teams from the U.K. and China. The show will be held in Shanghai for the first four months and will reach 150,000 people. Equipped with a young, international team, Yidiantong has been concentrating on producing and popularizing Immersive Theatre, Environmental Theatre and Online Theatre as well as creating new experiences from different dimensions with Chinese characteristics. Yidiantong has been successful in producing and running a dozen theatre, film and television programs. When it comes to the import of Alice’s Adventures Underground, Li Dian said in the press launch, “After the Shanghai tour, Alice will also travel to China’s first tier cities and some important second tier cities—I believe it is going to be a trendy entertainment in local cities. To seek more business opportunities and to break the space limits, the Chinese version of Alice’s Adventures Underground will join hands with a renowned international construction consulting company, making a fascinating wonderland in lightweight detachable containers. The combination of immersive theatre and mobile theatre is unique in the current Chinese market. Alice is going to be the new trend.”
The source material is growing familiar to the public through adaptions in films and television programs since Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was released more than 150 years ago. However, the Immersive Theatre production of this show makes a bold trial because it not only develops the new experience, distinguishing itself from the traditional performance forms, but also makes cross-border cooperation with many premiere businesses. For example, the show will cooperate with Whittard of Chelsea who will serve as the tea sponsor in the entire process, so that the Chinese audience can enjoy the original flavor of British afternoon tea. Elite Animation, famous toymaking company Yeluoli and renowned Chinese import and export wine supplier Fuyuan Hao are also joining hands with the ALICE production. These business collaborations could become a perfect alliance between art, culture and traditional business.