Unit 8 Task 6- Production Research

‘Alice’ by ‘Laura Wade’ Production Ideas:

Below is a mind map that I made, which shows our groups initial ideas that regard the production elements in the ‘Alice’ by ‘Laura Wade’ piece. We talked about different ideas we had for costume, props, set, staging, lighting and sound. Everything that is written in pink, is a direct quote from the play that I have found as evidence to back up our choices for certain props and pieces of set that we would like to have.

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The first thing that I did when considering production possibilities for the piece, was to research into the different adaptions and versions of the ‘Alice In Wonderland’ story that there are, as I know that there several in a variety of different forms, that have come out at different times. I thought this would give myself a good basis and starting point that could help to provide inspiration for our own version. I then created a time line which is below and shows a large quantity of different versions, that I then looked into in further detail. For each version, I tried to look specifically at the ‘Tea Party’ scene, which is the section of the ‘Laura Wade’ script that we will be performing and working on, as it is so iconic and will be easily recognisable for the audience. I also focused on the character of ‘Alice’ as she is who I will be playing.

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Costume: 

For costume I looked down the different versions, and researched into how they all depicted ‘Alice’. I focused on her appearance and what she was wearing, so that I could gain as many ideas as possible for our performance. From our groups initial discussion on costume, we want a modern day look to ‘Alice’ but still have elements of classic representations of her and the two other characters of ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’. That way it will fit the modern day time period that our piece is set in, but keep the characters easily recognisable for an audiences benefit.

I started off by researching the original 1865 ‘John Tenniel’ illustrations from ‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’ by ‘Lewis Carroll’. This was the first form of the classic story, that has been the basis for the other adaption. Therefore I see it as an important resource, that I want to incorporate an element of,  in the way ‘Alice’, ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’ look. ‘Alice’ is seen wearing a classical dress with an apron. She has white tights and black buckle up shoes. Although I want to keep the costume I wear, recognisable as the character of ‘Alice’, I also want to see if I can make it more modern, as ‘Laura Wade’s’ version that we will  be performing, is set in modern-day and is a little bit darker than the original. Therefore if I recreated the way ‘Alice’ looks in ‘John Tenniel’s’ illustrations, it wouldn’t fit the time period that our piece is set in, so wouldn’t be the best costume choice that we could make. ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’ both have waist coats and bow ties, which I quite like the idea of having. Their characters aren’t as time period specific in ‘Laura Wade’s’ version of ‘Alice’ and as they are mad, we can afford for them to have quirky characteristics, which these pieces of costume would enhance. The character of ‘The Mad Hatter’ would also have to have a ‘top hat’ as it is refered to in our script and is a key costume piece that the audience will automatically be able to associate with the character. For ‘The Hare’, our group is planning on looking into the possibilities of using masks or perhaps rabbit ears to show he is an animal. We also want to see if we can make a puppet for ‘The Dormouse’, as ‘Will’ will have to perform both ‘The Hare’ and ‘The Dormouse’ characters, due to the number of people in our group. We think this will also add to the madness of the characters and the piece, if ‘The Hare’ almost has a split personality and talks on behalf of this puppet mouse.

alicealice-in-wonderland

The second version of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ that I looked into for costume, was the 1903 eight minute long, black and white silent short film called ‘Alice In Wonderland’. This was another important adaption for me to research, as it was the first time that the characters were portrayed through moving image, using real people, with ‘May Clark as ‘Alice’. Although this is the case, it is very hard to see specifics with costume as the quality of the pictures and short film are not the best, due to the fact it is so old and it had to be restored by the BFI. However it is similar to the ‘John Tenniel’ illustrations in the fact that ‘Alice’ can be seen wearing a big dress with puffy sleeves. This again may not be the most suitable costume for our performance,  due to the modern-day time period. Although this is the case, she has however got a bow in her hair, which is something that girls would still wear today, this could be something that I could wear for the character. In the silent short film, ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’ are wearing similar costume pieces to the original illustrations. Both versions of the characters keep the costumes formal, but over exaggerate the top hat and the bow ties and I think if they were in colour, they would perhaps use bright colours. This version just adds to the idea that the two characters are very eccentric. ‘The Mad Hatter’ can also been seen wearing checkered trousers and I would like to incorporate this pattern either into his costume or perhaps on the table-cloth or set as it has madness associations and is quite psychedelic. This would work really well as the ‘Laura Wade’ play emphasises how crazed and mad ‘Wonderland’ (which is where it is set) really is. It also keeps it fun and looking more out of place which is what this scene does, seeing as it is a tea party set deep into a forest.

1903 may clark

Next, I went back to my original research when I first suggested ‘Alice’ as a piece, to ‘Arthur Rackham’ and his 1907 illustrated interpretations of ‘Alice In Wonderland’. Personally I see the illustrations of ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’ quite formal in regards to what they are wearing. The waist coats and spotted bow ties seem to be a recurring thing when it comes to how these two characters are depicted. ‘Alice’ is still very old fashioned looking in the illustrations but something that I have noticed, is that in all the versions I have seen of her so far, she is wearing a dress. This is something I will try to find and wear as the character of ‘Alice’, as it seems to be something people will recognise easily and we want the audience to be able to tell the characters we are playing, just from looking at us.

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I then went on to research the 1931 ‘Alice In Wonderland’, which was directed by ‘Bud Pollard’. This black and white film adaption, was the first version to have sound. ‘Ruth Gilbert’ played ‘Alice’ and I managed to find the film and the ‘Tea Party’ scene on YouTube. She looks more doll-like in this representation of the character and is again wearing a dress. You can see that she has been clearly made to look like the original ‘John Tenniel’ illustrations. Therefore it wasn’t the most useful source to look into for costume ideas, however it does emphasise how the way ‘Alice’ is shown has now seemed to have got a stereotype that most adaptions follow.

1931 ruth gilbert

The next version of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ that I put onto my time line was the 1933 Paramount film, which was directed by ‘Norman Z. McLeod. This version was almost completely live action, and had an all-star cast. ‘Charlotte Henry’ starred as ‘Alice’. This version of ‘Alice’ has the bow and hair band, which is another reoccurring costume piece for the character, which would help the audience to see who I will be playing. This version specifically emphasises every aspect of costume for ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’. It uses a lot of pattern, such as checkered and spots. This would be something we can try to experiment with for ‘Will’ and ‘Liam’s’ costume, as I think that it adds to the hilarity and over the top nature of the characters. Although I think that the large top hat does this as well, and would be fun to have in our piece, it may not be the most appropriate costume piece for a stage performance, as it would likely be heavy and fall off. It would also be hard to find or make in the time that we have. ‘The Hare’ is in a full costume, but again I think we would struggle, to make this in the time that we have. We also have a low budget, so I think that the mask or ears idea that I mentioned previously, would be better for our situation and also more practical, as we will be under all of the intensive theatre lights and it would get very warm.

1933 charlotte henry

The next adaption I found was the 1949 French stop motion based film called ‘Alice In Wonderland’. This also used puppets and some live action. ‘Carol Marsh’ played ‘Alice’ and this version was directed by ‘Dallas Bower’. The reason I looked further into this, was that it used puppets and this is what we want to be able to use for ‘The Dormouse’. However, they were very dated, and I think that we will try to make our puppet more modern to fit the present day setting.

1949 Carol Marsh

After this, I looked at the next adaption, which is the Walt Disney 1951 ‘Alice In Wonderland’. After they got the rights to ‘Tenniels’ drawings in the 1930’s, they hoped to star ‘Mary Pickford’ as ‘Alice’ in a live action film. However this soon changed as they decided to stick to animation, due to the difficulty of filming live action films at the time. They then used ‘Kathryn Beaumont’ as the voice for ‘Alice’. The Disney animated version of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ is one of the most well-known adaptions, so it was a vital one for me to research into for costume ideas, as a lot of people will recognise the way the Disney characters look. It was the first representation that had very colourful characters and the colours they wear have become hugely associated with the characters since. For example ‘Alice’s’ blue dress has become iconic to the character and ‘The Hatter’ is now often imagined wearing green, which I can see came from the Disney animation. I think that it would be good if we could stick to these colour schemes for our character costumes, as they are recognisable and also it pays tribute to the fact that the ‘Laura Wade’ play is massively influenced by the earlier versions of the story.

disney 19511951 tea party

Next I researched the 1985 adaption which was directed by ‘Harry Harris’ and again was a version with an all-star cast. ‘Natalie Gregory’ played the character of ‘Alice in this version. This is a good example of how she isn’t instantly recognised as the iconic character of ‘Alice’. This may be due to the fact she is wearing orange and not blue, which backs up the point I made previously, that ‘Alice’ has strong associations to her blue dress. It solidifies the fact in my mind, that an audience member will understand and instantly recognise the piece more, if I am wearing a blue dress. ‘The Hatter’ and ‘The Hare’ however, are wearing the same colours as shown in the Disney animation. Its starting to become more apparent that orange is a key colour to use when considering costume for ‘The Hare’ and green for ‘The Hatter’. We will try to find clothing in these colours, to stay true to some of the well known adaptions of ‘Alice In Wonderland’.

alice1985 tea

After this I looked into ‘Alice’, which is a darker more twisted version of the classic story. It was directed by ‘Jan Svankmajers’ and ‘Kristyna Kohoutova’ acted as the character of ‘Alice’. The reason I thought this would be useful, was that like ‘Laura Wade’s’ ‘Alice’ it is a little darker and much more modern that other previous adaptation.  Although I thought this would be a perfect version to look into for costume, I found that it was much darker of a film than I initially thought it would be when I first started reading up on it, and it might be too far off the ‘Laura Wade’ style to use. It is more creepy and falls into the horror genre, which we don’t want our piece to be in. Especially as we have a public paying audience and we need to cater to the lowest common denominator where we can do. We have ‘Laura Wade’s’ version as it is suitable for everybody of all ages. Therefore I don’t think our group will be referring back to this version as a source of inspiration again.

creepy tea

Next I looked at the 1999 ‘Alice In Wonderland’ directed by ‘Nick Willing’, which was a tv film adaption where ‘Tina Majorino’ played ‘Alice’. I specifically like how the character of ‘The Hare’ is shown in this version. I think that it would be an easy and achievable way to show that he is an animal, by having ‘Will’ wear brown. It also isn’t a colour that is too far off from the orange, that he is most commonly thought of wearing.

1999 Alice1999 TEA

The next  thing I put on my ‘Alice In Wonderland’ time line, was the 2000 ‘American McGee’ video game called ‘Alice’ and then later ‘Alice- Madness Returns’. It was inspired by the classic story but just like ‘Laura Wade’s’ version, it takes a modern day approach and is a little darker than the original. It was a perfect, source to look into for inspiration for costume. I really liked how they used elements of some of the earlier representations of the character ‘Alice’, such as the blue dress, but it is in a darker shade of blue than previous versions and also has things like the black and white striped tights to show the fact it is darker and has modern day themes. This is definitely something I would like to use and I think it is the closest thing to what we wanted to achieve for ‘Alice’s’ costume that I have found, as it has a good balance of being traditional enough so that its recognisable and also has elements to show that its modern day. I will try to recreate this through my costume, but without the blood as it isn’t relevant to our piece like it is in the game.

Alice madness returns.jpg

The last film which I looked into was the ‘Tim Burton’ live action, Walt Disney re make of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ in 2010. ‘Alice’ is yet again in a blue dress but ‘The Hare’ is wearing grey which is a first in my research. I like it for the same reasons that I liked the adaptions where ‘The Hare’ wears brown, as it shows clearly that he is an animal. I also especially like that ‘The Hatter’ has very eccentric makeup in white, red and green. This is a very quirky detail which I think adds to his eccentric character, as they are colours that aren’t usually worn on the eye. I think it would be fun to try this and see if we could recreate the way his face looks for our performance.

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Lastly I looked at the costume worn by ‘Ruby Bentall’, who was the original ‘Alice’ in ‘Laura Wade’s’ ‘Alice’, when it premiered at the Sheffield Crucible. Like the video game, she has black and white striped tights which I am going to try to find. Although it suits the modern-day theme, I think that we will end up sticking to the idea of ‘Alice’ having a blue dress, due to the fact that our audience will be seeing multiple performances and won’t already know that I am playing ‘Alice’ and we want to show that instantly through costume.

laura wade

Props: 

For our props for the ‘Alice’ by ‘Laura Wade’ piece, I went through the section of the play that we will be performing and underlined any mention of specific props that we need to include in our scene. I wrote these down on the mind map I created, along with any other props that Liam, Will and I discussed that we wanted to include in our piece, to enhance the tea party scene and mad atmosphere which we want to create. The quotes from the play that show that we need to have these specific props, are next to the prop they relate to and are written in pink. The ideas for props we have considered, include:

  • Pocket watches
  • A tea pot
  • Tea cups
  • A pot of jam
  • A butter dish
  • A light to shine in Alice’s face
  • A Dormouse puppet
  • Table Cloth

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Although these were the props we originally considered, since this we have had the idea to not have a physical table at all, to show to a higher extent that the characters are mad. This also fits in well with the Surrealism theme that our piece is trying to embody, from the ‘Salvador Dali’ ‘Alice In Wonderland’ painting. Due to this, we no longer plan on having a table cloth, as there will be no table.  The decision to not have a table also means that the butter dish won’t work, as we won’t have a place to set it. Even though this is the case, we still intend to try having tea cups that our characters can hold, and the tea pot can be set on the floor, next to ‘The Hatters’ chair. If this doesn’t work in rehearsals, we also have the option of miming those too.

Luckily, we think that most of the props we want are relatively easy for us to source. Liam has already said that he has a tea pot and tea cups that would work well for our piece. The other props we will also likely have in our kitchens, as they are standard everyday items, so we will have a look at what we can find. The exceptions are, the light that needs to be put in ‘Alice’s face’ and also the Dormouse puppet. For the light, we have had several ideas and different options that we will discuss and decide as a group, if a lamp, a lantern a torch, or nothing at all will be more suitable. We then should be able to find what ever we chose easily, as we know that there are several options in tweed, where the college keep most of their props. For the Dormouse puppet, we are going to try and make one ourselves. We thought that it would be hard to find one on sale or for a cheap price, so our best bet was to make one ourselves. I have already found possible tutorials that seem easy to follow, that would work really well to solve the issue of getting the dormouse prop. If this doesn’t work however, we then have the possibility of buying a mouse toy, that could be used in the same way.

puppet mouse

We have the exciting opportunity with props and set, to make them as imaginative and as mad as we like, as the characters and setting of ‘Wonderland’ is ment to be crazy and mad. Therefore we can experiment with patterns and styles that we usually wouldn’t get the chance to use. A way we could do this is with the floor. We may be able to find one that has a checkered pattern or something similar to help create the madness of the piece.

Set and Setting:

For our set, we were intending on having a large table, as it is stated in the script and the scene is set at a tea party in the forest. It is also what is used in every single adaption and version of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ that I looked into, that was on my time line which I created. However we had the idea to not have a physical table, as we think that it will add to the Surrealism that was inspired by the ‘Salvador Dali’ Alice In Wonderland paintings. We also think that by not having a table, it will make it more comical when the line ‘Move Round’ is used, as we will have to run around this large imaginary table to get to the next chair. It also means that we don’t have the potential problem of sourcing a big enough table, and then have the issue of transporting it around. We also would like to have chairs in our piece. We will need to have a minimum of three, to seat all of the actors in the piece. They will then be set to define where the table would be. Something else that we plan on researching further and then using for our piece is a sign post. It states in the script that there are ‘arrow shaped boards’ on page 102. It then says on page 111 (in the ibook copy) that the board says ‘H.R TEA’ to stand for Hatter and Hare Tea. Liam has said that he will be able to provide some wood and I will then paint the wood, so that we can create this sign. This will help to show that my character ‘Alice’ has been following these signs to get to this location.

Lighting:

For our lighting, I think it would be good for us to have the place where the imaginary table would be, lit up and then the surrounding areas darker, to give the impression that we are in the forest, as that is where our scene is set. We discussed the option of having a green tint to the light, but thought this would be too much and would be a little off-putting both for us as performers and also the audience. We plan on talking with the production students on their opinion for what to do with lighting, and creating the effect that we are in a forest but also at a mad tea party, as they have more experience with what will work lighting wise.

Sound:

For sound, we want to keep it as minimal as possible. We talked about the option of having a song before the piece or perhaps forest effects in the back ground whilst we perform, but we thought that this would take away from our performance rather than enhance it, so we may choose not to use any for this specific piece. The piece we have got, is all about what we say and we don’t want any sound effects to take away from that.

‘No Exit’ by ‘Jean Paul Sartre’ Production Ideas:

For our production ideas, I started by going through the play and writing down any mention of props, costume and specific set requirements. We then built upon this as a group and came up with some more ideas, which we think are achievable and would fit the style of our piece well. I wrote these down and put them in a mind map, with the quotes which support our production choices in pink.

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Costume:

I will be playing the character of ‘Estelle’ in ‘No Exit’ and for costume ideas I had to do quite a lot of research. In the play itself, there is reference to the fact that she is wearing a pale blue dress and a coat but that is all. Therefore when considering costume ideas, I decided to look into 1940s fashion, as this is when the play is presumed to be set. More specifically, I researched into what women would have worn in Paris, as this is where ‘Estelle’ is from. I looked at dress styles, clothing, shoes, hair and makeup, as I think knowing the 1940’s style would greatly benefit our piece as it will be more realistic for the time period. As well as this, our group may decide at a later date, that we want to modernise the costumes depending on how we end up playing the characters. Appearance and looks are a big part of ‘Estelle’s’ character, as she obsesses over looking good, it is important therefore that she looks right in our performance.

1940s look fashionblue dressupper classfrench iupper class 1940s

From my research, I have found that the fashion in 1940’s France, was to wear full skirts, A line dresses that synched the waist, hats, pearl necklaces, high heeled shoes and fur coats for those who could afford them. From my performance and character research, ‘Estelle’ is definitely an upper class character who would have wanted and been able to afford the best clothing. As this is the case, I will find a pair of long gloves as they showed glamour and status, which is what ‘Estelle’ would want to show. On top of this it says that she is wearing a coat, so I am going to try to find a fur coat in ‘Tweed’ where the college keep the majority of their costumes. If I am unsuccessful I will have a look in some local charity shops to see what I can find. I will do the same for a pale blue dress, that is in the right style for the 1940’s period. I found that in Paris, hats became an expression of fashion and were worn by a lot of women, so this is another costume item I will try to source. I have a pearl necklace that would work well for the character, which I will use for the piece and I also will see if I can borrow some of the dancers or musical theatre students character shoes, as I know that they have them for their dance lessons. These are very similar to the style of shoes that I found in my research.

1940s shoes- pumps

For makeup, ‘Estelle’ is said to be wearing lipstick, which becomes a part of the plot later on in the play. After seeing the trends in makeup in the 1940’s, I decided that red lipstick would work best for the character. It was seen as highly fashionable and also connotes seduction, which is what ‘Estelle’ wants to be seen as. Over all her character wants to be desired and she goes out of her way to look good. Therefore I want her makeup to show this, as it would likely be very heavy and well practiced. One of the popular makeup looks in the 1940’s was to have smokey eyeshadow, so this is something I will try to create for the performances. I looked online and found several tutorials which will help me to achieve this.

A lot of people followed famous style icons in the 1940’s, just as they do today. ‘Estelle’ is the type of character who would be very conscious of these actresses, pin-up girls and models and would likely have taken style inspiration from them. People such as ‘Katherine Hepburn’, ‘Rita Haworth’ and ‘Bette Davis’ were particularly iconic at this time. The picture of ‘Bette Davis’ (which is below on the far right) looks very similar to the description of ‘Estelle’ in ‘No Exit’ and is something I will take inspiration from, with the red lips, curled hair and blue dress.  

rita1940s hairBette Davis

As for 1940’s hair, there was a very glamorous style which was often curly with victory roles and hight added to the front of the hair. There is a line on page 180 where ‘Estelle’ says ‘Everyone says I’ve lovely hair’, which suggests that she too would have hair like this. I have had to do this style of hair for a production I was in recently called ‘Lillies On The Land’, so I will use the skills I learnt at doing this hair style, for ‘Estelle’.

1940s hair styleshair 1940s

If we decided to go for a more modern approach, ‘Estelle’ would still need the long blue dress as it is mentioned in the script and also character shoes, as they are easy to walk in and will still show that she is a character who would want to wear heels, as she shows a great deal of interest in appearances. The hair and makeup would however, be diffent and much more modern. This is something that indicates the period, so if we set it in modern day, I plan on having ‘Estelle’s’ hair in an up-do. This is beacause it is a hairstyle seen as elegant and sophisticated, which is how I intend to play ‘Estelle’.

Props, Set and Setting: 

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As the play ‘No Exit’ is set in Hell, our group decided early on that we wanted to keep our set and props to a minimum. We want the audiences focus to be on what we are saying and the message of the piece, rather than some props, which would not have fit our performance, due to the circumstance of them being in Hell. Therefore for the room that the three characters are in, we want it to feel empty, so that the thought of having to spend eternity there was not pleasant. That is why we made the choice not to have props and only the set which is specifically mentioned in the play. As you can see from the mind map, this is a red sofa, a blue sofa and a vivid green one. To create these pieces of set, we knew that it would be too difficult to use actual sofas, due to the fact they would be hard to source and we would struggle to move them between performances. Therefore we came up with the idea of using the sofa blocks that we have at college, and then drape them with the coloured material which each sofa is meant to be. This should solve the transportation problems, as they are much lighter than actual sofas. As well as this, we want a small square table, which again we could find at college, and this would hold a speaker or gramma phone. We want this, as our idea is to have the lines of ‘The Valet’ pre recorded and it would give the impression that the characters could hear the voice through the device. This solves the issue of us having three actors and four characters in the play.

Lighting:

For lighting, we again want to keep it minimalistic and we have decided that a white tone would work really well for our piece. This is because it makes it feel clinical or hospital like. We want it to be bright and almost painful for the three characters, to again make the experience of being in the room and in Hell , less enjoyable. We want our piece to open with the pre recorded voice of ‘The Valet’ and we think that a fade in would work really well along side this. We also have a very dramatic end line to our section of the play, which we think should be accompanied by a snap out on the lights. This makes it more impactful and dramatic as the audience are left on a cliff hanger.

Sound:

For our sound, we want the start of our piece to be pre recorded by one of the male members of our college. We want them to record ‘The Valets’ line which introduces ‘Estelle’ into the room. This means that although we aren’t going from the start of the play, the audience will still understand where the characters are and what is happening. It also adds and element of mystery as it leaves people wondering who the voice is and where they are. This is the only sound we want for our piece, as again we want to keep it as minimalistic as possible, as we think that style works well for ‘Jean Paul Sartre’s’ message.

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