|Bus drivers bring adaptation of Alien to London’s West End|
|发表时间：2021-05-01 10:09 阅读次数：|
|reader comments 54 with 42 posters participating Share this story Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Danielle Kummer and Lucy Harvey produced and directed the charming documentary Alien on Stage.
Imagine if your amateur high school theatrical production was suddenly asked to perform on Broadway, with just a few weeks to prepare. That's the kind of thing that typically provides fodder for anxiety dreams. But in Alien on Stage, a group of British bus drivers overcomes the odds to bring their amateur production of Ridley Scott's classic 1979 science fiction horror film Alien to London's West End. This winsome documentary made its international premiere at the virtual SXSW festival last week.
Per the official premise:
This is a story about a unique crew of Dorset bus drivers whose amateur dramatics group decide to ditch doing another pantomime and try something different. Having never done anything like it before, they spent a year creating a serious adaptation of the sci-fi, horror film, Alien; finding ingenious solutions to pay homemade, homage to the original film. The show is a crushing flop but fate gives them a second chance to find their audience.
Whilst still adjusting to the idea that their serious show is actually a comedy, the group find out they’re suddenly being whisked from their village hall to a London West End theatre to perform this accidental masterpiece for one night only. With wobbly sets, awkward acting and special effects requiring "more luck than judgement," will their West End debut be alright on the night? This bus driving crew are our space heroes. Their bus station is our space station. Dorset is outer-space and where is the Alien? It’s behind you!
The amateur company in question call themselves Paranoid Dramatics, and most of the members are employed by the Wilts and Dorset Bus Company. When we first meet them, they've been putting on annual holiday pantomimes locally for several years as a creative outlet, with proceeds going to charity. Their production of Robin Hood in particular proved to be a smashing success with the locals.Advertisement
Pantomime, for the uninitiated, is a form of family-friendly musical theater with comic gags and slapstick, with audience participation encouraged. It usually draws upon well-known fables, legends, and folk tales. But Dave Mitchell, his wife, Lydia Hayward, and son Luc, were all huge Alien fans—the franchise is arguably part of our modern mythology—and one year convinced the troupe to stage an adaptation of the film. (Other candidates for adaptation included Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, and Tombstone; Alien won out.) SXScreeners 2021The Emoji Story: You should never have this much fun learning about Unicode Hop on COVID-19’s most famous ship—the Diamond Princess—in HBO’s The Last Cruise Bus drivers bring adaptation of Alien to London’s West End in Alien on Stage Can you make a comedy set during COVID-19? Recovery takes the idea for a drive View more stories
Luc wrote the script, Lydia was cast in the starring role of Ripley (made iconic by Sigourney Weaver in the original film), and Dave was the director. They tapped grandfather Ray to build the sets, making it a three-generation family affair.
Jason Hill was cast as Dallas, captain of the Nostromo, with Jacqui Roe as science officer Ash (later revealed to be an android); Carolyn White as the ship's navigator, Lambert; John Elliott as engineering technician Brett; Mike Rustici as chief engineer Parker; Penny Thorne as the voice of Mother, the ship's computer; and Scott Douglas as both the ill-fated Kane and the Xenomorph. Various other co-workers and partners chipped in as needed for lighting, stage management, operations, sound, costumes, and props and special effects.Dave Mitchell took on directorial duties for a local stage adaptation of Alien. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey John Elliott (who played engineering technician Brett), Neil, and Mike Rustici (who played chief engineer Parker). Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey Caroline White played Lambert, navigator of the Nostromo. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey Prop master Pete Lawford had to figure out how to recreate Hollywood's special effects on an amateur budget. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey A few props in progress. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey Testing the set-up for the infamous chest-burster scene. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey Cast tries to recreate famous publicity photo. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey Alien stage adaptation comes to the West End. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey Exterior of the Leicester Square Theatre. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey Ash (Jacqui Rose) and Ripley (Lydia Hayward). Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey Kane (Scott Douglas) discovers the alien eggs. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey Ash and Captain Dallas (Jason Hill) ponder what to do about that pesky face-hugger. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey The chest-burster scene. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey Scott Douglas also played the Xenomorph. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey Xenomorph chilling backstage awaiting his cue. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey The final confrontation between Ripley and the Xenomorph. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey Alien takes a bow. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey Happy cast and crew. Danielle Kummer/Lucy Harvey
That latter category fell to Pete Lawford, late night supervisor at the bus company, who had to figure out how to recreate Ridley Scott's original effects for the stage, and on a minuscule budget to boot. Pete admits on camera that his only prior experience had been building models of cars. But the Internet proved to be a treasure trove of useful information, especially a site called Instructables, which yielded specific instructions for various props, including the Xenomorph costume. (The head is adapted from a motorcycle helmet, and the chin strap is used to operate the jaws.)Advertisement
Lawford's biggest challenge was the infamous chest-burster scene. He ended up using a rubber six-pack abs costume, placing the model alien in a bag just underneath it with two pints of fake blood. The chest-burster puppet was controlled (awkwardly) by wires on fishing poles, to hilarious effect, in large part because Lawford's version looks decidedly phallic in operation.Further ReadingAlien’s origin story chestbursts anew in stirring new documentary
Alas, despite all their hard work, the opening performance of Alien at the local Allendale Community Center in Wimborne, Dorset, was a disaster, with a mere 20 people in the audience. Enter filmmakers Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer, a pair of Londoners who were among the rare few to catch the Paranoid Dramatics stage adaptation in Wimborne. They adored the show and set up a successful crowdfunding campaign to bring the production to London. They were convinced the show just needed to find the right audience. Sure, the troupe had intended to stage a serious production, but those pantomime roots just proved too strong. The secret to eventual success was accepting that and leaning into the comedy.
Inspired by the group's "fearlessness and creativity," Harvey and Kummer borrowed all the necessary filmmaking equipment to document the process of moving the show from its Dorset village community center to the Leicester Square Theatre in the heart of London's West End. "Like them, we had never attempted to do something on this scale before, and like them, we just said, 'Yes! Let's do it!'" Harvey and Kummer said in a statement. Their inexperience shows in the final documentary, but like the stage production that inspired it, the amateurism is a big part of the film's charm.
The sold-out, one-night performance of Alien at Leicester Square Theatre, as the film documents, was a smashing success—so much so that the troupe was invited back for an encore performance the following year, with proceeds once again going to charity. (Theater employees voted the production their all-time favorite.) You'll find yourself clapping and cheering along with the audience in Alien on Stage, rooting for this intrepid group of ordinary people as they achieve something truly extraordinary.
Alien on Stage remains on the festival circuit, and there is no confirmed distribution plan as of this writing. Keep an eye on the film's Facebook page for screening announcements.关注高德娱乐官网（www.huzaza.com）。
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