On the making of MCS' Alice in Wonderland...

Posted by James Webster
Digital Marketing Officer, on Friday 3 July 2015

An adventure that none of us were expecting started on the Tuesday two weeks before production week, when the Arts Office at Magdalen College School fell victim to a fire. In the Office were all of our principle costumes and a number of our props, as well as many of the tools required to create them! The school, Joanne Pearce (director) and the Oxford Playhouse have been amazingly supportive and our amazing designer created a team of costume-makers and prop-makers, led by the Playhouse’s Poppy Farren and our own props-maker Drika Raposo Mattos, who remade the lost costumes and props from scratch in a factory of theatrical frenzy!

Our Wonderland is an eastern affair, with plenty of origami themed props and Indian inspired costumes. As Alice wonders through this strange place she meets many of Carroll’s well known creations, such as the Caterpillar and the Mock Turtle, but we also meet some of Carroll’s characters from other works – such as the mysterious Man in the White Paper Suit. Each character we meet has their own eccentricities and problems that Alice can’t help but be drawn in to; even when she meets the Queen of Hearts, our terrifying matriarch of Wonderland, she still can’t make out what the rules are or how to follow them. It is a beautiful and colourful world, but also one where you face a high possibility of getting your head cut off!

The rehearsals were split over two periods. We rehearsed at weekends from January to March and then came back to a two week intensive rehearsal period after our cast had finished their exams. These two weeks saw a lot of redrafting of scenes, polishing off of large chorus numbers and the principles putting in a huge amount of character work, with each one given a list of well-known figures to research and use as inspiration. In addition to this, we also had the filming weekend, where we created all the footage for the projections, which was a particularly fun couple of days spent in the gloriously sunny grounds of the school. Watch the trailer here.

The show has it all with great acting, music, film and dance and really is a testament to the homegrown talent at MCS. The music was written by the school’s Head of Drama, Alex Thomas, the film was directed by Rose Noble, an MCS alumnus, and the dance was created as a joint effort between Rose and Georgie Mason, a current MCS sixth former. We also had a student assistant director, Hugh Tappin, who took charge of rehearsing some of the ensemble scenes and have a wonderful student band, led by music teacher Sabrina Shortland. We are blessed with a hugely talented team, who have created a truly wonderful show! We do hope you will come and enjoy it!     

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