Dukes Theatre to stage Hansel and Gretel in Lancaster’s Williamson Park.

PUBLISHED: 00:00 03 July 2014

Hansel & Gretel are on their way to Lancaster this summer

Hansel & Gretel are on their way to Lancaster this summer

NOT Archant

Ulverston writer Zosia Wand has re-worked some timeless classic stories for the UK’s biggest outdoor walkabout theatre event this summer

Zosia Wand who has written Hansel & Gretel And More Tales From The ForestZosia Wand who has written Hansel & Gretel And More Tales From The Forest

Zosia Wand faced her greatest challenge to date by writing this year’s outdoor production which will be staged by The Dukes in Lancaster’s Williamson Park.

Since its first promenade production in 1987, The Dukes has established a national reputation for this kind of outdoor show which almost 500,000 people have enjoyed over the past 27 years.

This summer’s show, Hansel and Gretel And More Tales From The Forest, opens on July 4, just a few weeks after Zosia’s latest radio drama, The Treehouse, was broadcast on BBC Radio4.

It has been a busy year so far for the mother-of-two who has lived in Ulverston since 1995 but writing for a living is a childhood dream come true for Zosia who has a Polish mother and English father.

‘Writing was a fantasy career, like saying you wanted to be an actress or a pop star,’ said Zosia, whose interest in writing drama was sparked when she joined Greenwich Young People’s Theatre as a teenager and was given the opportunity to write scenes for some of their productions.

‘I find it very exciting to work with actors and a creative team. Writing the park show for The Dukes has allowed me to do that again. It’s such a privilege to write this outdoor show which I’ve brought my children to see in the past.’

Zosia first arrived in Ulverston from London to work on Welfare State International’s lottery bid to create The Lanternhouse.

‘I assumed I would be here for a year as I couldn’t see a reason for staying somewhere so remote and rural but within days of arriving, I fell in love with Morecambe Bay and felt totally at home in Ulverston,’ she added. ‘A shipyard worker once told me that it’s the mist that gets into your bones and ties you to the place and I think he’s right.’

The area has provided inspiration for much of Zosia’s work, too. Her last play for The Dukes was Quicksand in 2011, a love story set on Morecambe Bay, which she’s currently re-writing as a novel.

Zosia’s relationship with Ulverston was the basis for Come To Where I’m From, a, monologue performed at Kendal’s Brewery Arts Centre, and her recent Radio 4 play was based in Ulverston too. One of Zosia’s latest projects is Brief Encounters, a modern day version of the film set at Carnforth Station. She’s also writing another thriller set in Ulverston. ‘Initially, I didn’t feel that I had the right to write about Cumbria because I wasn’t local,’ said Zosia. But after receiving a BBC bursary to find a group of new writers and develop a project, Zosia soon found she wasn’t alone in being an ‘offcomer’ with an enthusiasm for writing about the area they now called home. The project resulted in the radio play Heft Like The Herdwick based on the experiences of rural women in modern day Cumbria.

Zosia is also a founding member of Word Market, the writers and readers project for South Cumbria.

In 1999, she achieved an MA with distinction in creative writing at Lancaster University and is delighted to be back in the city this summer, working on her first play to be performed outdoors.

In adapting popular fairy tales, Zosia has faced several challenges, not least intertwining the central story of Hansel and Gretel with characters from other popular children’s stories who they and the audience will meet as the action moves from one location to another around the Edwardian park.

Rumpelstiltskin, the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood, the Frog Princess and the Good Fairy from Sleeping Beauty are just some of familiar names who’ll be popping up in the show which runs until August 16.

‘During my research for writing this show, I did read a lot of fairy tales and watched many Disney remakes. I also asked my children for their feedback,’ Zosia said.

To book tickets for Hansel and Gretel And More Tales From The Forest, ring The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit www.dukes-lancaster.org.

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