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