Red Riding Hood Reimagined

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Red Riding Hood Reimagined

Alison Lazaroff-Somssich is not only a talented member of the TSO violin section, she is the creator and composer of the narrated musical work Red Riding Hood. Alison took us through her creative journey over the last 10 years which has led to the creation of the piece, a journey which features talented TSO musicians, an interest in wolves and (would you believe it!) socks.

So Alison, what inspired you to create your own imaginative adaptation of the fairy tale classic, Red Riding Hood?

It started about ten years ago. The TSO has a long history of working with schools and I have always loved being a part of that and watching the students get involved. Musicians are always encouraged to form groups to work with schools which can sometimes involve quite a bit of work including finding players and sourcing suitable repertoire.  I used to think ‘wouldn’t it be great if there was a fun activity you could just volunteer for as part of a production which was easy for the musicians to be a part of and most of all FUN?!’

I thought a play with costumes could work well, and it would make the kids so happy. A play with easy music, where the kids could get up and close to the orchestral instruments and learn more about the sounds they create. I love wolves and collect children’s books and wanted to do something that people were familiar with, so Red Riding Hood was just perfect!

There were so many versions of this though (and some are quite dark!) so I did my own take on this (where the wolf becomes vegetarian 🙂 ) and it just grew from there.

Tell us a little about your creative process to create this version of Red Riding Hood.

I have always loved art in many forms and am a visual person, so to work out the logistics of the performance and how it could all come together I made some baked clay puppets to act it all out. This then evolved to sock puppets using odds and ends from around the house (this way no two puppets are the same which I love!). The puppets work so well alongside the musicians performing – they add another fantastic visual element to the experience.

I have spent many hours composing music, adapting story text, sewing backdrops and costumes and making dozens of super cute sock puppets. I have loved every minute of it! It’s been so much fun.

The online performance features TSO musicians Miranda Carson (violin), Tahnee van Herk (bassoon), Roger Jackson (horn) and Gary Wain (percussion) with Narrator, local actor Bryony Geeves. They have all been a real delight to work with (as have all the wonderful sock puppets!). Everyone worked so well together to bring this memorable fairy tale to life.

Has anyone been lucky enough to see Red Riding Hood so far?

We have performed Red Riding Hood in an aged care home, to the delegates at an Early Childhood Education conference in the Federation Concert Hall and a class of Suzuki violin students. We also performed a test run to families of TSO musicians and staff, which was a hit! This year we were going to work with the TMAG Children’s Festival. Sadly, this was cancelled due to COVID, but we hope to work with them in 2021. It really is a performance that is suitable for all-aged music lovers, but there’s something extra special about performing the piece for children and seeing them get involved with classical music in this way.

How can everyone get involved?

The TSO has just launched three videos which are available on our website to encourage everyone to get involved – from watching the performance to  puppet making (just in time for the school holidays!). The videos feature the full Red Riding Hood performance, a Red Riding Hood puppet show and a Learn to Make a Sock Puppet workshop! (visit https://www.tso.com.au/red-riding-hood/ to take a look)

What are the plans for next year for Red Riding Hood?

In 2021, we plan to run a series of live Red Riding Hood performances by TSO musicians and Bryony. Following the performance, we will run a sock puppet making workshop so families can get involved and then head home to create their own puppet shows! More details will be released next year so keep an eye out!

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