Portsmouth pupils in Wonderland for their big show

IN WONDERLAND Robert Simpson, 13, as the Mad Hatter with fellow pupils in costume.     Picture: Paul Jacobs (112359-6)
IN WONDERLAND Robert Simpson, 13, as the Mad Hatter with fellow pupils in costume. Picture: Paul Jacobs (112359-6)
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YOUNG actors are gearing up to take part in one of the most daring shows their school has ever produced.

Children at Mayfield School in North End, Portsmouth, have been rehearsing their unique adaptation of Alice in Wonderland for months and are raring to go.

The show is a promenade performance, meaning the audience will be escorted to different parts of the school to watch different scenes, from a giant croquet match on the playing field to a kaleidoscope-style flower dance.

All 600 pupils from years seven, eight and nine at Mayfield have contributed to the production, from creating props and items of set, to drawing maps for the audience to follow.

One of the actors, Robert Simpson, of St Chad’s Avenue, North End, who plays the Mad Hatter, said it is a completely different experience to anything else he has done in the past.

The 13-year-old, who stared in the school’s productions of Narnia and Tempus, said: ‘Normally the audience would sit and watch from a distance and we have to act like they aren’t there, but this is totally different.

‘They will be up close and involved in what’s going on in the play – we want them to feel like they are actually there rather than just watching it.’

The show brings all the school’s departments together to explore the creative aspects of each subject.

Children in maths classes have designed mathematical maps, that will be on display during movements between locations and scenes.

And the French department has translated one of the scenes so it can be performed in French.

Actor Holly Stewart, 14, of Nelson Avenue, North End, is making her debut performance in a school show as the March Hare.

She said: ‘It’s been really good to plan out all the different things we need and to be able to help put it together.

‘It’s really exciting to be part of something so different and rehearsing has been so much fun, I can’t wait to perform it now.’

Show director Gary Appleton, the school’s assistant head teacher and director of the specialist arts college, said: ‘We wanted to utilise areas of the school that are not normally used for performance and show how all aspects of the school could be involved in the arts.

‘It’s brought everyone together and shown the children how important every member of a team is, no matter what their role.’

Alice in Wonderland is on July 19 and 20 at 5pm and has a second showing at 7.15pm.

Tickets are £4 for adults and £3 for concessions, and are available from the school on (023) 9269 3432 ext 246.