“I have never seen anything like this in a theatre before and I am still pinching myself to see if it was real. […] I am still stunned quite frankly but oh so happy to have ventured Into The Woods at Hansom Hall and have my breath taken away so beautifully.” – Mitch Wicking, audience member
My favourite shows are always the ones where I start the process with a strong design idea that I develop with the design team. From the start I knew that I wanted to bring the outside in and and really make the audience feel like they are in the woods with the characters. I felt this should not only feature in the stage spilling into the auditorium but I wanted as many props and puppets to be made using wood and book pages.
The most taxing element came in the form of the puppets. Having had my vision of willow and book pages I couldn’t resist dredging up my puppet-making skills from university. I farmed the willow trees of friends and family members, soaked the withies in my bath tub and they visited my family with me on Christmas and New Year. Milky White really did become another cast member and a real feature of the show that the audience (and the company) fell in love with.
The set featured a giant tree stump in the centre of the room with additional stage space behind it and wood-chip pathways branching off to each of the four entrances into the space. The rest of the space was transformed into the woodland with trees, woven entriways and and overhanging canopy. The audience sat in between the pathways with the characters appearing all around them and scenes spilling down from the stage into the audience.
One of the key differences between this and other performances of Into the Woods is that I decided I wanted to give the woods a character. Working with my choreographer I cast a group of dancers who used contemporary dance techniques in their performance to bring mischief to the stage and create a visual representation of the Witch’s powers. This element really lifted the show to another level and helped push the other performers to stretch themselves.