Post written by Bee Taylor and Beth Bowden, Platform Interns
On a sunny day in late May, Wonderland began at Torre Abbey…
After months of online preparation, it was finally time to perform, and in real life! Suddenly – it was five minutes to go until the first show…dressed in our Card Guard costumes, with our social-distance-enforcing feather dusters at the ready, we marched to meet our first audience in the beaming sun.
And so, amongst the historic walls, a glorious rose garden, and rows of wildflowers we welcomed our audiences into the magical, marvellous world of Wonderland. After a year of waiting, live theatre was back – and it was delightful.
The show was created with playful joy – the White Rabbit doing star jumps, the Mad Hatter baking a cake with the audience, and the Queen of Hearts making a musical band! It was a privilege to see our audience sing, dance, and laugh with our characters – after a long year of being careful and staying apart from others, it felt so exciting to share creativity again. One of our favourite moments were the hilarious audience suggestions for ingredients that would go nicely in Mad Hatter’s cake! No sugar or butter, but mud and worms instead! Anything goes in the magical world of Wonderland…
Over the week, armed with lots of sun cream and smiles, we shared these moments with our audiences. However, it was a careful balance coming out of COVID restrictions: how could we keep people safe, whilst maintaining the fun? Although we were desperate to bring live theatre back, we were worried that social distancing might ruin the magic of Wonderland! We tackled this by creatively weaving COVID into the script. For example – after having no guests all year and suffering like so many of us this year with loneliness and monotony, the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts gathered to welcome (or scare in Her Majesty’s case) guests back into their wonderous world. Also, as Card Guards, we had feather dusters to chase audience members back into their bubbles!
Wonderland was a brilliant taster of outdoor, COVID safe performance, and set the foundations for future live theatre as restrictions ease further. We were incredibly excited to have been a part of the experience, and with all its charm, the Torre Abbey gardens became the idyllic setting for our immersive adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.