Behind the scenes of be-CONNECTED: Konstantinos Vasilakopoulos on Alice in Wonderless land: ‘I show things from their tragic, dark side'

'Alice in Wonderless land', photo: Robert van der Ree

Published on

From June 25 to June 30, the new generation of talent from the Academy of Theatre and Dance in Amsterdam will present themselves during the online festival be-CONNECTED. Are you curious about the creative outbursts of our students online? Here you will already get a taste!

Director Konstantinos Vasilakopoulos (26) on Alice in Wonderless land:
‘I show things from their tragic, dark side'

No white rabbit, no talking caterpillar. Alice in Wonderless Land by director Konstantinos Vasilakopoulos (Theatre Directing) contains - as the title says - no miracles. What we do have is an Alice who tells the truth. Raw, sarcastic and painful. I use the temperament of my Greek friend as the basic material'.

Why are there no miracles in your Alice?
‘Everyone knows Alice in Wonderland, a fairytale about growing up. In my performance Alice in Wonderless land, the miracles are missing. I make an intense piece about becoming an artistic adult. About searching for your artistic identity, expression and acceptance. Alice and a knight are desperately looking for themselves, on some spiritual journey in a faraway land.’

Not a knight on a white horse, I take it?
‘No, the knight steps into Alice's world to find each other and clash with each other. To be a mirror for each other; to see what is difficult to  recognize oneself. The play does not follow the original fairy tale anyway. I use texts by Franca Rame and Dario Fo, from Robert Fisher’s The Knight in Rusty Armor and poems by the Greek poet and Nobel Prize winner Odysseus Elytis’.

What drives you personally to create this piece?
‘Perhaps I want to show the artist's tragic, dark side. How terrible it can be to be an artist. Why do we feel the need to make art? What moves us to want to express ourselves artistically? The countless sacrifices, the criticism you have to overcome, the personal problems you have to put aside. An artist is like an alert guardian, who must be razor-sharp to seize every opportunity, must be available. Who is dependent on fashions, and in the meantime has to take care not to be exploited.’

How did you get the idea?
‘I was talking to a Greek friend and expressed my concerns about "after school" - what then? She suggested that I read Franca Rame's text. I immediately became extremely enthusiastic. Then I asked my friend to come to Amsterdam and play Alice. That's how it came about...'

So we will see a Greek Alice?
‘Yes, my Alice wants to express everything. I can do that very well with my Greek friend. I use her temperament as the basic material. Alice tries to tell her truth, raw and sarcastic, shameful and painful. She is a victim and perpetrator of her own choices. She plays with a Dutch partner-actor. Two worlds come together on stage.’

What is it like to make a performance as a theatre director in these times?
‘It is very difficult for me. Just imagine: I'm making a new performance, and meanwhile I have to accept that there will probably not be a live audience soon. I decided to use this stress and uncertainty as material for my performance.’

How do you use this 'coronastress' artistically?
‘I am a young artist who wants to establish himself on the labour market. Actually, I am like a little prince from a fairy tale. Full of idealism and personal principles, but without weapons to face the new situation. In this piece, I offer my own perspective on it. I criticise the existing system, in which you, as an artist, always have to prove that you deserve to exist artistically.’

text: Buro Vonkstof - Petra Boers