Developing the set – creating the landscape

To make the mounds we filled bags with screwed up paper and created a pile. We covered it with a patchwork of paper and hessian that copies the shape and aesthetic of the Witch laying in wait.

We wanted the landscape to seem soft and warm until the witch is revealed and then the  harshness should be more noticeable, we will try to achieve this with light, soft low lighting at first then a more harsh light at an angle to create more shadow.

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Developing the Space – Creating a Landscape

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After exploring a moments we had created briefly in the forest, and using the shape of the landscape we created with the witches body we designed a landscape in which the Witch could inhabit. We started by drawing and painting our own impressions of the landscape and brought them together in the space to discover how we could recreate our visions.

We wanted a curving shape that contrasts with the rest of the space making it feel like you have entered a different world, but we will use the same materials that the forest is made of (paper, card and Hessian) so that the overall design concept connects all areas of the space.


mayalin aDYT Landscape


This piece is called Nidi which is Italian for nest, I think we can take a lot of inspiration from this in creating a space that reads as a nest without being obvious.

Exploring Design Ideas – The witch

Through improvising with possibilities in the space we discovered a connection between the witch and the landscape and pushed this until the body became the landscape itself. As we explored practically we found movement became part of the atmosphere of the world. The connection with the earth makes the witch seem more immediate, it brings her out of the fantasy world and into the present.

This artist, Levi van Veluw, helped me to find how the body and landscape can become one. It also helped me to consider the scale of the landscape in relation to the witch.

We choose to use mask to help the actor portray the different personalities of the witch. We decide to use three different masks to show clearly to the audience that the witch is changing from nice to wicked to bossy and frustrated.



Initial Ideas

Gingerbread House

A tiny house will make the children seem more greedy. Also children are often in awe of something that is normally big but has been made small.

When we visited the children at their school, one boy said that the witch couldn’t come out of her house so she had to lure the children in. He also drew her with wings. we are thinking of using this concept to create the basis of the witches character, that she is in fact trapped in her own cage. The  The gingerbread house is just to lure the children in, they become so obsessed with the sweets and cake that they don’t notice that they have waked into a cage.

The cage could be a bird-cage and  the witch transforms into a bird, making a connection with the birds in the rest of the story that all seem to make the action happen and progress the story.

I love this image of a bird-cage but I think it will be very obvious that they are in a cage. I want it to be more subtle so i have looked at a nest like structure simpler to the den which we found in the forest.

Stork Nest Farm by SGL Projekt


Clemson Clay Nest

Theses are a few images of giant bird nests that I think will inspire us in creating the witches home, at the centre of which will be a gingerbread house.

We want to use a real gingerbread house that can be eaten live on stage by actors and the audience. The children respond really well to being involved in the piece and when we asked them to draw their favorite part, a lot of them drew the house and talked about what it should taste like.

Children’s Ideas

We went to visit the children who will be the audience for our performance at their school. We told them the story of ‘Hansel and Gretel’ and helped them to draw their favorite parts. They then wrote done what they could see, hear, smell, the characters and the thoughts and emotions of the story, which they used to create a short poem.

Observations, ideas and questions the children raised

  • ‘the gingerbread house is a mirage’
  • why is it okay for the mother to die?
  • ‘what are we going to do?’
  • ‘Gretel wears a ripped dress and has a dirty face because she is poor.’
  • yellow is happy
  • ‘Walking, turning, RUN!’
  • use puppets, a real gingerbread house and good costume
  • ‘Maybe the Witch is the mum or the mum is the witch.’
  • they want to be involved in making part of the play.
  • there are bad birds and good birds
  • sounds: wind, birds, chopping

Exploring Design Ideas – Doorway in a Tree

2013-12-03 14.42.26

From One World into Another

As a child I always wanted to be able to find a magical world, a place like ‘The Secret Garden’ or ‘Narnia’. I would fantasise about finding a secret door into another world. I want to create this experience for our audience. As it is set in a forest, I have thought about the doorway being through a tree.

This door is really small and it immediately conjures up images of a little magical world on the other side.

In the space we played with shadow and making it look as through we were getting smaller to enter a tiny door. We  gave this impression by making massive shadows of our figures then getting small by walking closer to the light source.

urban doors fit on trees make woodhouses by daniel barreto

We agreed that the world of the witch is not the same as the rest of the forest, it should contrast with the linear aesthetic of the height of the trees. There should be an indication that this land is not what it first appears.

We want the audience to crawl through a dark tunnel, experiencing fear and anticipation of what is on the outer side. Then emerging into a world that has subtle warnings that this is not a place you want to be, and realise that they, with Hansel and Gretel have been lured into a trap.

Ideas after the trip to the forest

Moments of Theatre within the story

  • Hansel and Gretel listen to the their parents argument. The space in darkness, can only hear the voices
  • Children in shed with Hansel?
  • Follow a white bird
  • Find something magical – the gingerbread house is hidden and revealed
  • Pathways, the children find their own way, make their own journey.
  • A portal into another world

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