Alice in Whittington

Posted on 10 August 2017 by Rachel Dale

Queen of Hearts and Caterpillar

The story of Alice in Wonderland is one most people are familiar with. A girl falls down a rabbit hole and becomes lost in a fantasy world with peculiar creatures, unable to get home. Alice struggles to tell friend from foe in a foreign land and ends up defeating her antagonist, the Queen of Hearts.

Although Alice’s story is a flight of fancy, the battle she fights against her fears is a well-known one for many young people today.

Last week, students at MacKillop’s Specialist School in Whittington, Geelong did more than face their fears when they put on a special performance of the play in front of the school community, MacKillop staff and supporters.

The adapted play, Alice in Whittington, told the tale of a girl struggling with anxiety and fears of rejection. She travels through a land of curious characters and eventually overcomes her fears by popping a giant-sized balloon that carries all her worries.

The production involved around 35 students from the school, who worked together on everything from costumes, set design and construction to script writing.

Principal Anne Henderson said the performance was a powerful exercise in working together and building resilience.

“To create a wonderland we have to be willing to overcome our fears and anxieties and I can only imagine some of the fears and anxieties that have been part of the journey here today.”

The transformation that Alice makes echoes the themes of growth and change – two key pillars to MacKillop’s trauma-informed framework, the Sanctuary model.

MacKillop’s Specialist Schools support students who are disengaged or at risk of disengaging from mainstream education. The Schools provide a trauma-informed learning environment based on Sanctuary that focuses on students’ individual needs. This unique approach emphasises building strong relationships with the young people to create a safe space for learning.

Teacher and co-director Richard Bullock said the production had helped students build confidence.

“Working with creative arts brings a transformative spirit to both individuals and groups because the work is an expression of themselves and so closely linked with identity.”

To find out more about MacKillop’s education services, visit