Little Women tells the much loved story of the four March sisters, the trials and tribulations of their lives growing up in 19th century America. The BGT English Language Theatre Company are performing a new adaptation of this classic. Family entertainment at its best!
Rhona Richards met with Director, Tony Kingston, and actors, Jacqueline Milne (“Jackie”) and Hayley Dawson, to find out more about the new adaptation of Little Women.
What are your roles in the production?
Jackie: I play the adult Jo. In my ‘normal’ life I work for a firm of intellectual property lawyers.
Hayley: I’m a student at the European School and I play the younger Jo.
Tony: I’m a full time director. I founded BGT with my wife, June Lowery, and I also teach drama and direct plays in local schools.
Why Little Women?
Tony: Whilst teaching I discovered a lot of very talented young people looking for an outlet for their performance skills. So, I was looking for a play in which I could use younger actors. Also, it’s always the way that there are more female than male actors so I wanted something that had good roles for women. It’s actually quite difficult to find really good plays for a mostly female cast. Sometimes I think writers live in a parallel universe where they only create parts for men!
It was my wife who suggested Little Women and I was really taken by the characters. The story follows the March sisters on their journey from childhood to adulthood and they have experiences that I think we can all relate to; love, loss, joy, sorrow. It’s a character driven piece and June has written a very fast flowing adaptation that captures each sisters unique personality.
Jo’s a major character and the catalyst for a lot of the events in the play. What’s she like?
Jackie: Jo’s fiesty, rebellious, a bit of a tom-boy. She has a “hot” temper that often gets her into trouble and, for her time, she’s bold and unconventional. She’s great fun to play. In this production we have different actors playing the younger and older versions of each character. So, Hayley and I are sharing the part of Jo.
Hayley: We’ve watched each other rehearsing so that we can try and mirror each other’s gestures. Hopefully, the audience will be able to see a link between each version of Jo.
What about other characters?
Tony: The other March sisters, Meg, Beth, and Amy are the other main characters. Meg is the most traditional sister, often lecturing her sisters on how to be ‘little women’. Beth is the peacemaker in the family. She might be the shyest of the sisters but it’s her story that has the greatest impact on the family. Finally, there’s Amy, the baby of the family, a talented artist and writer and just a little bit spoilt. The sisters all have markedly different personalities and make their way in the world very differently. But, they are always rooted together and the play explores their immensely strong bond.
Jackie and Hayley, what do you enjoy about acting?
Tony (interrupting): Line learning and being with me!
Hayley: I like that fact that there are so many possibilities. There are so many ways you can develop a character.
Jackie: I only really started acting a few years ago. My parents were always involved in the theatre and I remember watching them and thinking “That’s my Dad or Mum but it’s not my Dad or Mum” I got a real sense of how someone can disappear into a character. Eventually, I decided to have a go and now I really love being on stage.
The play is set against backdrop of the American Civil War – tell us more.
Tony: It begins during the war and you see how the family are affected by the conflict. The father is away fighting and basically the girls are living in poverty. The play then moves very quickly through the next decade of the girls life. There are actually two books, Little Women and Good Wives, and the play is an adaptation of both.
How are you coping with the American accents?
Tony: We’ve been very lucky in that Christine Probst, an American actress living in Luxembourg, has helped us with the accent. Given that we’ve got a cast made up of a mixture of American, Dutch, English, Irish and Luxembourgish actors, they’re all doing really well.
How did BGT start?
Tony: I lived and worked in Berlin and had the idea of getting a group of German actors together to perform in English. We went to the Edinburgh Festival and got good reviews and great audiences. It was going to be a one-off but everyone enjoyed it so much that we just continued. Then, after we moved to Luxembourg, my wife and I decided to continue BGT here.
Any thoughts on English speaking theatre in Luxembourg?
Jackie: More, please!
Hayley: I wish there were more productions for young people. We really need more opportunities for people under 16.
Tony: I find that there are quite a few productions in German and French but very few in English. The New World Theater have a great youth theatre but it’s always over-subscribed and I think that shows that there’s a real thirst for English speaking theatre in Luxembourg.
So, what’s next for BGT?
Well, we’re also performing Little Women in November at Abbaye Neumunster. I have lots of ideas for future productions so we’ll certainly be back again next year!
Little Women will be performed on 2nd, 3rd, 4th October at 8pm and on 5th October at 5pm. The venue is Mierscher Kulturhaus, 53 Rue Grand Duchess Charlotte, L-7520, Mersch.