The sun is out in Wonderland, and the Hedgehogs are staging a protest. For those that don’t know, the Queen’s favourite sport is croquet, and everyone is invited to play. This may seem like a benign way to pass the time, but instead of hitting croquet balls, it is customary to use Hedgehogs! This has become such a tradition in Wonderland that the majority of the Wonderland population fail to recognise this as a form of abuse. Besides, anyone who disagrees with the Queen runs the risk of having their heads cut off, so people are afraid to speak up! Luckily, there is a small group of courageous Hedgehogs willing to try anything to put an end to this disgusting custom. They are:
Tiggy Winkle: Tiggy Winkle is the mother figure of the group. When not protesting, she can usually be found in the kitchen baking cakes. She keeps the other Hedgehogs in line, as young Hedgehogs have a tendency to be easily distracted. A highly intelligent Hedgehog, Tiggy Winkle is the organiser of the group.
Spike: The years of abuse that Spike has endured on the croquet court has sadly led him to the bottle. Spike can be seen staggering around Wonderland, occasionally pausing to have a snooze. However, the possibility of ending Hedgehog abuse in Wonderland has given him an incentive to clean up his act, and he has recently started attending HH (Hedgehogholics Hanonymous).
Cherry Blossom: Sought after by all the male Hedgehogs of Wonderland, Cherry Blossom is a truly beautiful specimen of a Hedgehog. But don’t be fooled by her looks! Another highly intelligent Hedgehog, Cherry Blossom is the brains behind the protest rally. It was Cherry Blossom who first dreamed of a Better Wonderland, and it was she who had the courage to speak up about her plans, despite the risk to her head.
Mr. Itch: Mr. Itch is the ‘doer’ of the group. Always with a smile on his face, Mr. Itch is a very friendly Hedgehog who loves helping others. His zest for life means that he has taken so very much to protesting that he now does little else with his time. He is a highly sociable Hedgehog and is skilled at recruiting new members to aid in the protest. You are unlikely to spot a more energetic Hedgehog in all of Wonderland.
Pork Pie: As his name suggests, Pork Pie loves eating pork pies. Despite his enthusiasm for the protest, he is unwilling to stop eating in order to get up and actually protest. Thankfully he has a loud enough voice to carry through all of Wonderland, and so marching for him is not really necessary. If you happen to be wandering through Wonderland and you hear a mysterious distant cry of “NO MORE BALLS”, you can count on it coming from this Hedgehog’s powerful lungs.
As the croquet season draws to a close, so the Hedgehogs’ protest is put on a hiatus. This year they have succeeded in gaining much support for the cause, with over 376 new signatures on their petition. They still have a lot of fight left in them, however, and in the future we may see the hedgehogs return to continue the protest…
Our Adult Company had already begun rehearsing hard for their outdoor performance of Alice’s Mad Tea Party when Alice Rayman, our Associate Director, asked me to assist on this project. I have always enjoyed working with EqD and feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work on such an enjoyable project. Situated in the garden of Honeywood, decorated by our wonderful Samia Tossio, there could not have been a more magical backdrop in which to set the scene.
It was great for the EqD guys to be involved in the pre-show fun here! As audience members arrived they were immediately transported into the world of Wonderland, taken through a sensory tunnel by the White Rabbit (played by me!) and into Wonderland itself, where aside from the Hedgehogs, there was lots going on to entertain the audience before the main show began, including activities for children and a Card Training Academy in which audience members were dressed as Cards and taught how to march. Our amazing production designer, Michelle Buttress, designed the costumes for the Hedgehogs while Charlotte Stapleton designed their make-up.
The Hedgehogs, played by Aaron (Mr. Itch), Kevin (Spike), Gemma (Cherry Blossom) and Peter (Pork Pie), supported by Yvonne (Tiggy Winkle), worked extremely hard throughout the rehearsal process, finally performing the show four nights in a row! I feel that we have a really special group here, and we always laugh a lot during rehearsals. My personal highlight of the rehearsal process was pretending to be a sleeping Alice while Kevin enjoyed repeatedly burping in my face. I can’t wait to work with these guys again in September and hope to see you at our future shows!