Meet Alice!


When I saw I was playing Alice I couldn’t quite believe it! I screamed the house down even though it was 10am (sorry neighbours!) but in all seriousness I was overwhelmed and humbled to be chosen as Alice, and to be a part of what is going to be a truly magical and amazing show with an equally amazing cast and crew.


So the first thing I did that day was I bought the original book by Lewis Carroll to see how she was portrayed. I think everyone has this image in their head of what Alice should look like; a dainty girl with blonde hair. Actually on the contrary, after reading the book I felt that at times she can be quite an assertive and fiery character who knows what she wants. Of course, there are also times where she is unsure what to do, I mean, what would you do if you landed in a strange wonderland after falling down a rabbit hole? But she meets so many extraordinary characters on the way and the originality of each character is really endearing to the reader, and this will translate to the stage as well.


I also feel like I can put my own individual spin on Alice, to show everyone that no matter who you are, what you look like, what you can or can’t do (even if you are in an unusual situation, like being in wonderland?!) that you have the power to overcome difficult problems.


I am beyond excited to start the rehearsal process, and to see the cast and crew come together to make a spell bounding Christmas show that people of all ages will enjoy. My costume is quite traditional in reference to the original book with the blue dress and white apron but again it has taken its own spin on it…if you have seen the poster…I am wearing stripy tights! The skirt is definitely my favourite bit, every girl dreams to have a full skirt and twirl around in it. When I first tried on my costume before we broke up for summer I couldn’t stop smiling! The costume designer Helen Symonds just goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations and the attention to detail is incredible…even down to the themed buttons at the back-snowflakes, rabbits and red hearts. Just wow. Wearing that dress certainly makes it easy to be Alice.


Alice's Adventures in Winter Wonderland poster, featuring Naomi French as Alice
Alice’s Adventures in Winter Wonderland poster, featuring Alice, played by Naomi French.


Anyway, that’s me for now. Keep following the blog to keep up to date with all the exciting news that unravels about the rehearsal process and show with a few surprises too! Hmm…curiouser and curiouser…


Naomi French, playing Alice.


Multimedia in a Winter Wonderland

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.

Karen Savage

Writing Alice’s Adventures

Writing a new show is always incredibly exciting, and Alice’s Adventures in Winter Wonderland has been no exception.


We made the decision that this year’s Christmas Show was going to be based on Alice in Wonderland even before we had finished last year’s show, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. That show was a huge success, so we have a lot to live up to this year, and as such, the stakes are really high! One of the reasons we decided to write a home-grown show this year was to make the most of the tremendous talent we have in-house in design, puppetry, video work and music. Anyone who saw last year’s show will know that we really invested in the production, so it is great to be able to write a show ourselves into which we can weave as much technical wizardry, fantastic frocks and rousing music as possible. And because we are writing the show from scratch, we can also respond to the 24 students who are performing in it – they all auditioned around Easter, and seeing the skills they have has really inspired us to write dynamic, fun-filled characters.


There are plenty of characters that are recognisable from Alice in Wonderland  – the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts, for example; but for our production we have decided to go a little bit further in creating the world of Wonderland. In fact, our show is actually an amalgamation of Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass. In some ways, this is because Through the Looking Glass has more of a quest structure – it’s built around a game of chess, and Alice is desperately trying to find her way to the 8th square. Well, we are not using chess as such, but we are building our Alice’s story around the idea of a quest, and the 8th square (or our version of it, 8 o’clock) is a key part of that quest. So there are lots of characters from Through the Looking Glass as well: Humpty Dumpty, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and even the Jabberwocky, providing us with the thrilling finale to Alice’s quest.


We have also made up some of our own characters. Every hero or heroine going off on a quest needs a companion (think of Frodo and Sam Gangee), so we have given Alice a side-kick in the form of Tiger-Lily, a sassy and street-wise hipster who helps her along the way. In this Wonderland, Jack Frost and his accomplice Icy Jill have kidnapped the White Rabbit, who is the guardian of time; so time has stopped and an icy winter has descended over everything. The only way for Alice to save the day is to jump-start the clocks again by making it to tomorrow morning. She has plenty of tribulations on her way, of course, but eventually… well, you will have to wait to see the show to find out how it ends!


So, look out for some of our amazing puppets, like those made by Myk Hoyle for the Jabberwocky and the Cheshire Cat; get yourselves ready for some of the wacky and weird costumes from the brilliant designs of Helen Symonds; look forward to some of the captivating video sequences being put together by filmmaker Karen Savage; and get ready to tap your toes to the music of composer Mark Wilde. All of these will feature in LPAC’s best Christmas show yet – Alice’s Adventures in Winter Wonderland!


Dominic Symonds, writer and director

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

“So many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things were really impossible!”


It’s the middle of summer and although Christmas is the last thing on most people’s minds we’re already planning our Christmas show! This year we will be putting on Alice’s Adventures in Winter Wonderland, and although it is based on the classic novel that we all know and love, this will be a retelling with a wintery twist.


We’re right at the start of the production process, so before we meet Alice and explore our Winter Wonderland through this series of blog posts, let’s look at Lewis Carroll’s original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.


Lewis Carroll, actually named Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, most notable for his successful writing career, was also a mathematician, logician, and photographer. He has been dubbed as the Einstein of the ‘literary nonsense’ genre; his whimsical, quirky and eccentric writing style has inspired our Christmas show, which draws inspiration from both novels.


The story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland originated in the mid-nineteenth century, on a boat trip, where a little girl named Alice Liddell, daughter of Lewis Carroll’s friend Henry Liddell, asked Carroll to tell her a story. What then emerged were the beginnings of one of the most influential and iconic tales of all time, and when Carroll’s friend George Macdonald presented the incomplete manuscript to Macmillan Publishers, Carroll’s story transformed.


Alice follows the White Rabbit down a rabbit hole and finds herself in Wonderland, a fantastical place with talking animals. The adventure unfold as a dream-like series of nonsensical scenes, in which Alice is questioned by a Caterpillar, has a tea party with the Mad Hatter and plays a chaotic game of croquet with the Queen of Hearts. To top it all off, Alice is betrayed by her body which grows to the size of a giant at the most inconvenient of times and gets her into lots of trouble.


After the success of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Carroll went on to write the sequel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Alice walks through a mirror to an alternative land, laid out like a giant chess board. The narrative is more structured than in the previous novel, in that the Red Queen challenges Alice to play her way to the eighth rank of the board to be crowned queen. On her way she meets Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Humpty Dumpty, the White Queen and the Red Knight. The world is vividly imagined by Carroll, with its own folklore, such as the poem about the Jabberwocky.


We will be reimagining this childhood favourite story for Christmas, so expect tea parties, the White Rabbit and magical potions… with a few of our own ideas thrown in too!


Our next blog post will be from Craig Morrow, Artistic Director for Lincoln Performing Arts Centre and Producer for Alice’s Adventures in Winter Wonderland. Craig will be blogging about what excites him as a theatre producer and some of the decisions made, and considerations involved, in our production.


Caitlin Clark, Arts Marketing Intern

Our New Season is Here!

As I type this, our new season brochure is at the printers and the shows will be going on sale shortly – it certainly is a busy time of year!


Following the success of last year’s The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, which played to a sell out crowd, we wanted to visit another magical land that appeals to both boys and girls. Because we’re exploring these stories at Christmas it also feels right to introduce a festive element to the proceedings, and like many great winter myths we’ve introduced a villain with a dastardly control of the elements – Jack Frost.


Dominic Symonds, our director from last year, is back in the hot seat but this time he’s writing the script as well. He’s done a really clever adaptation of the story, taking the structure of Through The Looking Glass and fusing it (or should I say freezing it) with Jack Frost’s plans to stop time and transform Wonderland into an icy kingdom. If you’d like to find out more about Lewis Carroll and the original stories, read Caitlin’s blog post.


Can Alice find the White Rabbit, defeat Jack Frost and get back home in time for Christmas? We’ll have to wait and see but I think, with our expert creative team on-hand to realise Dominic’s artistic vision, the audience is in for a real treat as we bring the play to life.  Without giving too much away, we’ll be using the whole theatre for the performace, and I mean the whole space, right the way up to the roof, exploring the potential for flying actors through the auditorium…. It’s this flexibility as a venue that really excites me as a theatre producer, as it gives us a unique opportunity to engage with audiences in a way that is different to more traditional productions.


Once again we’ll be turning the space into an in-the-round theatre which adds to the intimacy of the performance and places you right at the heart of the action. It’s a challenge in terms of visual effects as there’s nowhere to hide anything, but it’s one our production designer Myk Hoyle is excited to get his teeth stuck into and we’ll be posting initial designs on the blog very soon, along with costume and make-up concepts from Helen Symonds.


Indeed, up until now it’s all been about the early stage prep work, but now it’s all systems go, as the cast start rehearsing from September (which will come around very quickly).


The cast is made up of final year undergraduate Drama students studying Theatre for Young Audiences, with the Christmas Show providing a unique opportunity for them to perform within a professional environment prior to graduation. They all auditioned for a role back in Easter and they really are a talented bunch. We’ve already had a photoshoot with Naomi French – who plays Alice – and I’m sure you’ll agree that she definitely looks the part already! You’ll get to hear from some of the cast about their experience on the blog once rehearsals start.

Naomi French as Alice in photo shoot for Alice's Adventures in Winter Wonderland.
Naomi French as Alice in photoshoot for Alice’s Adventures in Winter Wonderland.


In the meantime do check back here regularly as we upload more sneaky peeks behind the scenes and interviews with the creative team.


I hope you enjoy following our blog in the run up to Christmas. Please share your feedback, thoughts and questions in the comments section on this blog.


See you soon!

Craig Morrow, Producer

Artistic Director for Lincoln Performing Arts Centre