Wonderland Director announces exciting new staging plans

Posted on 14 April 2014.

Posted in: Announcements

Wonderland Director announces exciting new staging plans

Image: Chariots of Fire in the round (2012)

‘Beth Steel, in a commanding Main Stage debut, illuminates corners of a story you think you know but you don’t.’ David Hare, writer of The Judas Kiss, Skylight and Pravda

Edward Hall has announced his plans to transform the Hampstead Theatre Main Stage into the round for Beth Steel’s epic new play Wonderland.

Hall says ‘Going down the pit at Thoresby Colliery with Beth was a real privilege and, in fact, a life-changing experience. Designer Ashley Martin Davis and I want to create that alien sense of being thousands of feet underground and we’re certainly going to reconfigure the auditorium. The versatility of Hampstead’s Main Stage will allow us to evoke the unique and exhilarating feeling of being at the coal face by transforming the auditorium into the round for the first time since Chariots of Fire in 2012. We want it to feel, look, sound and even smell like being down a mine – audiences will be invited into our own special Wonderland.’

Theatre in the round means that the audience will surround the stage on all four sides. This offers a greater intimacy between performers and the audience – more so than a proscenium layout.

Hampstead Theatre has a modern auditorium, which has been designed to be as versatile as possible in both staging and seating configurations to allow the Director and Designer to work creatively and imaginatively. Our seating capacity can range up to 325 in a variety of formats. Movable seating blocks allow for the auditorium to be changed from a traditional end-on configuration with a raised stage, to thrust, traverse or in the round layouts.

Currently playing on the Main Stage is Hall’s other show, Sunny Afternoon featuring an impressive catwalk extending out to middle of the stalls. Howard Davies’ 55 Days was staged in the traverse, where the audience played the jury in the trial of Charles I (played by Mark Gatiss). Unforgettably, Chariots of Fire was staged in the round to great critical acclaim with actors literally running circles around the audience. In 2011, box office hit Tiger Country was also staged in the traverse. Such layouts present exciting opportunities to engage audiences in unusual ways.

‘The auditorium has rather brilliantly been reconceived as a stadium where the stage is a circular revolving track with the audience sitting all around’ The Daily Express on Chariots of Fire

‘Played on a wide traverse stage, Nina Raine’s own production excellently conveys the hyperactivity of a hospital’ The Guardian on Tiger Country

‘It’s hard to ignore shades of Julian Assange in Douglas Henshall’s resolute Cromwell, while the filing cabinets that line Ashley Martin-Davis’s traverse stage suggest our own rifling through records to right past wrongs’ Financial Times on 55 Days

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