“Originally we were street performers, mostly in Europe and in Central and South America,” said James Croker, the co-artistic director of Motus O. “Interestingly enough, someone had seen us and they commissioned us to do a version of Alice in Wonderland.”
Their take on the Lewis Carroll classic has spawned 20 years of performances. Now, as the group celebrates its 25th anniversary, they are bringing the show to the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre this Saturday, Feb. 13.
Motus O began in Stoufville, Ontario, in 1990, and the collective has been performing and evolving ever since. From their start as street artists, they began creating original works. Part of the Revelstoke show will include 30 minutes of those dances.
“They’re our own original dance pieces — pieces that we’ve created over the years around different themes,” said Croker. Several local high school students will be cast as extras in the production.
Alice in Wonderland brought Motus O into a new world of children’s theatre. “That led us to a whole array of work with children, which led us to doing opera, which led us to doing contemporary work in Europe and elsewhere,” said Croker.
He described their production of Alice as “part dance, part theatre, part triathlon.”
“It’s incredibly energetic. We do lots of tossing and tumbling,” he said. “Someone said you could lose weight watching the show.”
The group uses dance, mime, spoken word and music to tell the story of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland.
“The take we do is Alice gets thrown into this world and she’s trying to make sense of this world that you can’t make sense of,” he said. “That’s her conflict.”
One of the highlights of the show is the fact that local youth will be cast in the play. It’s an aspect Motus O incorporated into the performance about 10 years ago. Participants get to take part in five of the 20 scenes and will be run through three rehearsals before the show.
“For us it’s a community engagement, so we get to meet people as opposed to just performing for them,” Croker said. For those who take part, it’s a chance to work with a professional theatre troupe. “There’s no speaking roles but they get costumes and we choreograph and work with them,” he said. “They don’t stand around and get to be trees, they actually move and do all sorts of things.
Croker said the most that ever took part was 60 people at a show in Newfoundland. Usually, about 20-30 people come out. “It’s been quite enjoyable,” he said. “Many of the people have become fans.”
Motus O performs at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for kids. They are available at the visitor centre, ArtFirst! and the Revelstoke Arts Council website.
Any youth under 18 who want to take part in the performance of Alice should contact Miriam Manley at firstname.lastname@example.org.