The Gazette caught-up with Ulverston-based writer Zosia Wand. In a candid inteview, the critically acclaimed author and playwrite explains how the area influences her work, gives a sneak preview of her upcoming production of Hansel and Gretel and hints at what the future will hold.
For many years Zosia Wand has been delighting audiences with mystical, imaginative works of fiction.
As the daughter of a Polish mother and London-based father she felt quite ‘alien’ growing up - something she acknowledges may have helped her become a writer.
But she fell in love with Ulverston when she arrived in 1995 during a scorching hot summer.
“The place is beautiful and it felt right,” she said - and she stayed to raise her family.
She spoke to the Gazette as she prepared for the launch of her latest project: Hansel and Gretel.
Scheduled to run from July 4 to August 16 in Williamson Park, Lancaster, the 48-year-old explains how it will be like nothing she has ever done before.
After taking her youngest daughter to the park to watch a production and seeing how her ‘jaw dropped’ she realised she had to perform there too.
Set across several stages in the magical, enchanting setting of the park’s woodland, it is the first time Zosia has written a play which is suitable for children.
She said: “It’s nice to write something that will appeal to the children because I have two myself.
"It has to be suitable for all ages; young children, teenagers and adults.
"When I was writing it I had an imaginary 14 year old boy on my shoulder!
"There’s a lot of woodland in the play and as the audience are led around the park they enter a magical world alive with fairytales where anything can happen.”
Despite the play’s name, it is an adaptation of the much-loved children’s tale with some intriguing differences.
For example, the terrifying, ferocious wolf who loved nothing more than the taste of human flesh is now a ‘recovering carnivore’ - or vegetarian to be precise.
Every day is a struggle for the wolf, who has to somehow summon the strength to overcome his blood lust.
And then there is the princess trapped in a frog’s body.
Traditionally, she would be waiting for her Prince Charming to kiss her daintily on the lips and transform her back into the beautiful damsel she once was.
But this frog is a fervent feminist after years of disappointment at the hands of men.
She probably could not imagine anything worse than a man kissing her on the lips.
These are just a couple of the adaptaions one can expect from this children’s fairytale with a twist.
Zosia said: “I had to keep certain key things, like a witch and breadcrumbs.
"But then I had liscense to change things. They’re now a very real dysfunctional family with a stepmum and a weak-willed father.”
When a writer puts their heart and soul into producing a scrpit to hand over to actors and directors it can be a nervewracking experience knowing somebody else will be making changes to your ‘baby’.
But Zosia has a different outlook.
“It’s great when somebody takes your idea and makes it special,” she said.
“When I see the show it’s a privilege to watch because it has been realised by people with so much talent.”
Now an established writer, it is a good job Zosia refused to listen to the advice of her school’s career advisor.
“I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I said that to my career advisor,” said Zosia.
“He told me to become a journalist but I’m not interested in that because I wanted to make stuff up!”
She has come a long way since her involvement in a junior production company in Greenwich, London.
Recently, the BBC commissioned Zosia’s play, ‘Treehouse’, which was aired on BBC Radio 4 in May.
When asked how it felt to have her work recognised and then performed on a global stage such as the BBC, Zosia said: “I thought if I never do anything again this is enough - finally somebody has said I’m a professional.”
She admitted that earlier in her life she had been too afraid to follow her dreams, but when she did her life changed.
“If you’ve got a passion then go for it,” advises Zosia, “you only get one life.”
Tickets for Hansel and Gretel start at £9 and can be purchased by calling Williamson Park on 01524 598 500.