They say if you don’t try, then you will never achieve your dreams. It’s a basic concept and I guess in a way that I can accept it, especially when there are documentaries like Alien On Stage that prove there is more to that saying than it just being an old wives’ tale.
When I was involved in amateur theatre, we kept things pretty basic. But perhaps this documentary shows us that we went about things the wrong way. While we wrote characters that would wear what we would wear to cut down on costuming costs, limited ourselves to basic props and sets, there are others out there that dreamed big and it paid off.
Screening now as part of the 2021 Fantasia Film Festival Alien On Stage shows what happened when a gifted young writer with stars in his eyes teamed up with an amateur theatre company, deciding to take the Sigourney Weaver led cinematic classic Alien and turn it into a stage production.
To be honest, I thought that very idea was ludicrous, and I quite expected the documentary to be a film almost to be making fun of some ‘idiots’ who put on a complete failure. To the credit of filmmakers Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer, this documentary is nothing like that and it instead becomes a powerful film that shows why as humans we should not give up on our dreams, no matter how much others put us down.
Alien On Stage chronicles what happens when the amateur theatre group, which is made up of staff from the Dorset Bus Service, decided to branch out and do things a little differently with their annual charity fundraising pantomime. Tired of doing the classics like Robin Hood, they branched out and got a young writer involved, a young writer who instantly came back to them with ideas like turning Alien, Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction or The Hills Have Eyes into stage productions. Rather than laugh at him, the crew rather wisely settled on Alien. During the rehearsal stages, the production got so much traction that they were invited to perform it at West End rather than in their small community centre.
The rest as they say is theatrical history, but luckily Harvey and Kummer were there to capture the entire the journey and I must say that this is one story that needs to be seen by anyone who strives to reach their artistic dreams.
Rather than making fun of what is happening, Harvey and Kummer allow their documentary to become a story that not only shows the dreams of one writer coming true, but also chronicles amazing stories like a middle-aged actress who had been told for her whole life that she will never amount to anything on stage or screen, suddenly realising that she is going to be the star of a West End show, and of a group of people who feel ‘they can’t pull this off’ suddenly realising they have to get ready for the biggest night of their life. The result is a film that I will admit emotionally moved more than once as I watched it.
Alien On Stage is not just a film for theatre lovers, it’s not even just a film for fans of the 1979 film. I found this to be an emotionally moving documentary that is a great reminder to never give up on your dreams, no matter how ‘out there’ they are.