Alice in Wonderland

Camera, Lights, Action !

Gaggin Hall, Bandon was filled to the rafters on the 19th June last. Once again Desertserges National School put on a very successful musical, “Alice in Wonderland”. After last year’s “The Wind in the Willows” it was going to have to be something special to surpass the previous success, and it was! It was a very professional production, with an impressive array of props. To put on something this big everyone has to take part, from the older pupils right down to the youngest (who appointed himself props assistant on the night of the play!!) This included school staff, those involved on the door or with the music, props and curtains, together with those with the task of stage direction and lighting, including two secondary school pupils who came back to lend a hand.

The school is lucky to have the superb dramatic skills of Sue Blake on its staff. She can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Each child becomes a better person by crossing her path. They become more confident, more expressive, more outgoing; they leave their inhibitions at home, tender their own suggestions and use their own initiative whenever it is necessary. This whole experience matures them.

It’s not what you have in your wallet or purse that is your greatest asset in helping your child be successful at school, but rather being there for them and  involving yourself with school activities by giving your time, helping the school by getting “Well Stuck In”. The parents of Desertserges National School have gone much more than that extra mile. Many of them, even grandparents and friends, came into the school for a “props workshop” to give a hand with drawing, painting, cutting, sticking. There were feathers floating all over the place! It was a really fun morning and created a great bond socially for everyone. The laughter, the fun and the warmth from all will be a memory that will stay for a long time. Some parents came back a second and a third time. One parent came for a whole week, setting up her “props repair shop” in Gaggin Hall during the time spent there, and she also did the make-up on the night.

There was a fantastic variety of home-made props on the night, from the flamingo’s croquet sticks to Alice’s “Little-Big” door and from the Dormouse’s teapot to Lewis Carroll’s bookshelf, all meshing well with the professional props that the school were very fortunate to acquire on loan thanks to the generosity of Dublin based  “Prop Me Up”. This is Ireland’s largest props hire company. They have thousands of props and they specialise in themes; party themes, movie themes, historical themes etc. The magnificent background of “The Enchanted Mushroom Forest” and their toadstools, mushroom tables and chairs, garden seats etc., it was just a wonderland of magic built up on the stage.

It’s amazing the difference a day makes: on the Tuesday the pupils practised as usual but when Wednesday came the chairs were set out for the audience, the background was in place, the lighting was working, the pupils were in full costume and their make-up was applied. The excitement, nerves and panic were palpable. Alice was ready to take the stage with the ever-late White Rabbit.

During the first act Alice made her way into Wonderland through the “Little-Big” door, where she had many adventures, from meeting the silly trio “Dodo, Lory and Mouse”, to the slow Caterpillar; then on to meeting the smart, sly Cheshire cat and ending up with the destruction of the duchess’s kitchen as she sat nursing a pig!

The second act started with the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party which was thoroughly mad, as was the Mad Hatter himself playing ‘out of his skin’ against the bumbling March Hare and the sleepy Dormouse.

The Royal madness soon followed, with the command “Off with their heads!” being screamed by the Queen of Hearts at anybody and everybody! If they breathed at the wrong time, if they looked in the wrong direction or even if they so much as moved, out went her ear-splitting screech time and time again! She definitely wore the trousers in her family! And this strength of character came across splendidly as she played against the softer bumbling king. The play ended with the mayhem of the court scene and then Alice waking up beside her sister on the riverbank.

Each scene surpassed the one before, each actor gave 200%, each song was so entertaining, and the sound so clear it reverberated off the back wall of the hall and back to the stage. The “Caucus Race” was sung in three parts, “Pig and Pepper” was sung in rock style, and then followed the loud, determined “Off with her Head”! Even the audience joined in with these wonderfully catchy songs.

The school expressed a massive thank you to Gaggin Hall Committee for the use of their hall and stage and especially to Gaggin Dramatic Society for allowing the school the use of the lighting equipment. Without these facilities the school would not have been able to bring the play to the public in such a dramatic and professional presentation.

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