The Kings Lanlgey Players News Editor asked Director Carolyne Bevan about KLP’S production of Little Women.
Why Little Women………Is an 1868 play pertinent for today’s audiences?
This year is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Little Women, during that time it has never been out of print, has inspired numerous stage, film and TV adaptations and is an all-time American classic. Like Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye, it has managed to cross the Atlantic and become just as embedded in British nostalgic memories of childhood reading/viewing. I have always loved it and its centring on the dramas of ‘family life’ are as pertinent today as they were a century and a half ago. It is no accident that the book so caught the public’s imagination in the 1860s when America was recovering from the aftermath of the most brutal and bloody civil war. In fact versions of it seem to pop up whenever there is conflict. It’s as if it provides a touchstone to remind people what they are fighting for. Family life, kindness, decency…
Louisa May Alcott was an early feminist, how do see that this influences her writing?
Alcott had an unconventional upbringing. Her parents were most unusual, socially aware people, who imbued their children with a confidence to express themselves and ask questions – not least about the role of women in society. Little Women is very much autobiographical and the character of Jo is Louisa. From an early age she knew she would not have a conventional life. Marriage, children and domesticity were not going to be her path and she often puts words into Jo’s mouth about the restrictions of being a woman and not having the freedom of choice enjoyed by men. Ironically, although Alcott never did marry – perhaps bowing to public pressure – she eventually has Jo marrying, producing a brood of children and finding domestic bliss. So I think the feminism is there – but only to a point.
The older generation will be familiar with the films ( 8 movies since 1933); how will your stage version manage to convey the story, with the limitations of a stage.
Not just the older generation! There was a lovely BBC/US adaptation for TV shown at Christmas last year and as we speak there is a new Hollywood feature film starring Meryl Streep and Emma Watson to be released in 2019. It seems the entertainment industry never tires of re-telling the story for new generations. Our stage version is based on just the first book in the series of novels, so concentrates on the jeopardy of the family alone while their father is away at war. I’m particularly interested in setting the play in the context of what was going on in America at the time. I don’t see any limitations with the stage, and in our version the audience is encouraged to think beyond the domestic bubble of the March house.
Who did you cast as the 4 sisters, and why?
I am thrilled with my cast! Although we are early in rehearsals I am amazed at how beautifully each girl is already capturing the essence of their character. Tori Jeffs is the eldest daughter Meg, who is envious of her rich friends but who find true love with a poor man. Jo, the headstrong, wilful, whirlwind of a tomboy is being played by Sophie Palumbo. Newcomer Millie Knights plays the precocious and quite hilarious Amy whose preoccupation with her image is incredibly resonant today. And finally our other newcomer Rebekah Cooper is gentle Beth, whose angelic sweetness and calmness belies her fears she may not live long enough to enjoy the full and happy lives of her sisters.
Who makes up the rest of your cast?
Sally-Anne Rafferty is the tranquil Marmee, the girls’ adored mother. Liz Dowling is testy but loveable house-keeper Hannah. Jamie Yates is Laurie, the wealthy and likeable ‘boy next door’. Jon Bradnum is John Brooke, the handsome young tutor who catches the eye of Meg. Valerie Gale is the wonderfully eccentric and opinionated Aunt March. And Guy Peskin is the girls’ beloved father who although far away at war is er… never that far away – I’ll let the audience discover what I mean by that.
Tell us why we should come and see Little Women
Because it is going to be FAB!
Click HERE to book your tickets now!