"Finding Inspiration in every turn"
Alice by Heart
Our design team for Alice by Heart has been planning and designing this project since last fall. Take a look at some of their research and design work...
The London Blitz
The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against the United Kingdom, in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War. The term was first used by the British press and originated from the term Blitzkrieg, the German word meaning 'lightning war'. It is estimated that more than 12,000 metric tons of bombs were dropped on London and nearly 30,000 civilians were killed by enemy action. During the course of the war, an estimated 63,000,000 people took shelter in London's tube stations.
I wanted to connect this beautiful story to the stages of grief. Alice is not only grieving the loss of her friend but is coming to terms with the loss of her youth and her childhood as a whole. Her body is changing while her memories are fading and her dearest friend is dying. I also believe that she is falling in love with Alfred, which is the death of her friendship and the blooming of her adult life. I was able to loosely tie each of the songs in the story chronologically to this concept. Our actors are finding ways to connect their characters to each of these emotions. As story tellers, it is our responsibility to bring clarity to the story for the audience and to share the author's intent while interpreting the story in our own way. ~Pam Rapoza, Director
My costume design for Alice by Heart is based on the concept of the two separate worlds in which the characters exist: 1940s London during the Blitz, and Wonderland. While the entire production pulls us back and forth between reality and the imaginary, historically accurate costumes ground the characters in World War II. The characters then use items that surround them in their temporary Tube station shelter to create the fantastical, imaginary creatures of Wonderland. The costume design of this show is uniquely challenging. There are layers upon layers of inspiration and design. In this production, you will see:
Period-accurate items used as-is to enact Wonderland characters. For example, the characters don unaltered British Army helmets to become the Mock Turtle.
Realistic, period-accurate clothing as it existed in 1940s London, with a particular focus on Utility Clothing Styles born out of fabric and labor shortages.
Realistic items are altered or crafted by the characters to create Wonderland costume pieces. For example, decks of playing cards are used to create crowns for the King and Queen of Hearts.
Period-accurate items as they appear in Alice’s imagination. For example, British soldiers were issued long, knit fingerless gloves in drab or neutral colors. In Alice’s mind, these become caterpillar legs, and we the audience see them in the bright colors of Alice’s imagination. Or the trigger-finger mittens issued to soldiers operating rifles or other firearms in cold weather become bright-red lobster claws during the Lobster Waltz.
Nods to John Tenniel’s original 1860s illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
My challenge is to ensure that all of these elements coalesce into a cohesive and coherent costume design that provides unspoken context to the audience, aiding their understanding of the story and capturing their imagination, just as Wonderland ensnares Alice.
I look forward to sharing my vision with you on the JCC stage in September!
~Kristen MacKay, Costume Designer