Throughout history theatre has used technology in different ways. Early cinema also borrowed from theatre, and what is exciting about contemporary theatre is its ability to use a wide range of media within the performance space.
Working in the theatre space at the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre has enabled us to consider the performance space and all of its dimensions. This is particularly relevant with this year’s production of Alice in Winter Wonderland because Alice’s journey is about exploring new places and spaces.
Myk Hoyle and I will be creating an animated/filmic space as part of the production, exploring some of the magical elements of Alice’s story. We are considering areas within the production that lean towards other dimensions, and creative spaces. Along with the director, Dominic Symonds, we feel that Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole is the best place to start. This is where she leaves one world behind and enters another. Keep your eyes open for some updates as we work through this process together.
We are creating film boxes, rather like a theatre set box design. The boxes need to have removable glass walls and tracks on the base so that we can move the pieces in the set. Using this design we are also working on The Jabberwocky’s lair: this space is where Jack Frost is holding the rabbit captive. By using animated sequences we can remind the audience of this space throughout the production, and we can extend its expansiveness and it’s atmosphere. Using animation also enables us to bring another layer of the playful, the mystical, and the storytelling into the production.
Myk and I started with some initial storyboards. What sort of space is the lair? Is it stark? Who is present? What is the temperature?
Then we thought about items that might be present – we knew the rabbit was being held captive, how would we keep him a prisoner? And how could we use elements from the films to link with the live elements of the performance? We thought a good prop link would be to use a ‘birdcage’ in both the films and the live space.
We then considered how we would represent the cold atmosphere of Jack Frost. Taking some influence from the Brothers Quay (Stephen and Timothy Quay) we are experimenting with iron shavings. These shavings move in interesting ways, controlled by a magnet, and give the set a magical quality that we are looking for. We can light these with a cold blue light to create the ‘frosty’ ambience.
You will see more about this as we update this blog throughout our process.
For now, have a look at this short video, it’s a sample of frost and ice. It shows the vulnerability of the ice. It’s cold, but there is hope for Alice if she can make the frost melt.