Pop-Up Alice

Alice Header

Alice In Wonderland

This scenic design was submitted by Dakota Briner of Northland International Universities production of Alice in Wonderland. The script used was an original adaption by a fellow student, TC Baker.

Alice in Wonderland is the second set that Dakota has designed for his school as  part of their work-study program. His first design was for the play Rehearsal for Murder and he also assisted with the construction of the sets for Wait Until Dark, Cheaper by the Dozen, and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.


Northland International University is a small school located in Dunbar, Wisconsin. The student population has ranged from 150-300 students which obviously puts some pretty tight limitations on what they are able to do, thus forcing Dakota to get creative. Given a 5 week window and only $250 for a budget, his concept had to be on the creative, yet cost conservative side.

The overall concept Dakota was trying to achieve was the feeling of being in a pop-up book. This was achieved through the use of high density foam board, lumber left over from another production and a little paint.


Originally they thought they may make the tree’s out of lumber, however after calculations they found that approach to be too costly with their limited budget, so instead they turned to foam. This was a better method for them for more than one reason. Of course it was cheaper than plywood, however it was also much lighter as well which would prove to be very useful when the trees needed to be moved to various parts of the stage for the different scenes.

The trees were drawn free-hand onto the foam and then cut out, later signs that were also made of foam were attached with hot glue. After constructed and stable, the trees then received their text. The text from Alice in Wonderland was applied using a handwritten font that was projected upon the trees, where it was traced and painted, giving them a very creative and unique look.

The Door

Having little to no wing space to store set pieces, it was determined that the door would have to be worked into the design in such a way that it would be on stage for the duration of the show. Originally they thought about using a standard hinged door however being in Wonderland, they decided a standard door was too boring and opted for something much more fun and built it as a spinning door!

The door was built from 6 pieces of foam that were glued together with a large amount of Elmer’s glue creating an 8’x8′ square. This was then cut down to a 7’x6′ door.  This was attached to the door frame and secured onto an 8’x3′ platform and secured with 5′ posts in the back. Running through the center of the top and bottom of the frame as well as the door was a dowel rod that helped to provide the spinning action for the door.  It was then given a coat of black paint and the final aesthetics were added.


12 4’X8′ high density foam sheets
2 Gallons of Midnight Stroll (Black) paint
1 Gallon of Ivory (White) paint
1 Quart of Cherry (Red) paint
Elmers Glue
Masking Tape
Various lumber left from previous productions

Overall, Dakota found this to be a very rewarding and fun process. Have feedback? Be sure to leave it in the comments below! He would love to hear from you!

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