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Come join ‘Alice in Wonderland’

The Theatre Department will be performing in director Nina Buck’s first show at WSC

Erika Schwartz, Staff Writer

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The WSC Theater Department and various talented student actors and actresses are preparing to fascinate the minds of young and old with their spring children’s show, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

“I’ve been wanting to direct ‘Alice in Wonderland’ for a long time,” play director Nina Buck said. “I think that is in large part because I love the fantastic, I love the outsize and the zany and the whimsical.”

As Buck prepared to direct her first show at WSC, she read through various scripts looking for one that portrayed fast fun and emphasized action. She also searched for a female hero, and imaginative, playful Alice was the perfect fit for that role.

Buck then re-read the original book before deciding on the script she wanted to direct. She contemplated the language of the story and what the world was like at the time Lewis Carroll wrote the original book—and then how the WSC actors could represent those things to young, contemporary audiences.

“I think one of the things that theater can do that other genres cannot is create fantastical, magical strange worlds—live in front of audiences,” Buck said. “I think this play really lends itself to that creation of magic, fun, strangeness and whimsy—so I’ve been drawn to Alice for a long time for that reason.”

Though “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” is Buck’s first time directing at WSC, it is not her first time directing a show. Since moving to Nebraska three years ago, Buck has directed shows at Norfolk Community Theater. Buck seized the opportunity when she saw there was an opening for a director at WSC. Although she is primarily an actress by training and trade, she has enjoyed watching the show come together from a director’s vantage point, Buck said.

“I was very excited to get to work at WSC. I like working with student actors and I like working with college students,” Buck said. “The students here are very motivated; they’re here because they want to be.”

The show features 22 student actors and actresses, as well as a student stage manager and costume designer. The students all helped create the world of Wonderland by gathering props, helping in the costume shop and assisting Asst. Prof. Brian Begley with the set.

“This is a big show. It is a big cast so it gives lots of opportunities for young actors to be on stage,” Buck said. “Some of our actors are new and some of our actors have been doing it their whole lives. It’s fun to see different people step into different roles and exciting to be working in a college setting. We have a ton of resources available to us—the theater, the lights and the costumes are all beautiful.”

Buck also said the WSC students involved with the show have all gone above and beyond to bring the show together.

“It’s been really fun working with this group of students. I am new here so everyone has kind of pitched-in in a really cool way,” Buck said. “Seniors, juniors and people who have performed here before have all just kind of jumped in. I think there is a real generosity among these students and that is a pleasure to be a part of.”

For this particular show, Buck kept the audience in mind as she directed the actors. Before moving to Nebraska, Buck showcased her acting abilities at the Honolulu Theater for Youth as a company actress, so she is experienced in creating shows for young audiences.

“I feel like children’s theater gets a bad rap. I think people think children’s theater and they think of fake acting and over-blown costumes and sets,” Buck said. “I think there is a real tendency not to take children’s theater seriously and I think that’s because we under-estimate the intelligence of our children and our young people—that goes for college students too.”

Since Buck and everyone involved developed this show for young audiences, the show is perfect for anyone looking to respond to art that is fun, magical and imaginary.

“Young children’s imaginative and creative lives are so rich and when you present them with something beautiful and fanciful and smart—they respond,” Buck said. “There is no reason why theater for young audiences can’t be every bit as compelling and interesting as theater for adult audiences.”

Additionally, Buck hopes the response to the show is pure pleasure.

“I think that people often ask ‘what do you hope kids will take away from the show’ or ‘what is the moral?’—It’s not like that. It’s for fun,” Buck said. “Much the way adults go to the theater for fun, or the movies for fun. Sure, you’re hoping to see a neat story or learn something historical, but it’s also just a pleasure. It’s important that kids get that too—get art, get theater, get that experience and that pleasure.”

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