Tuesday 23 December 2014

Twas the Night Before Christmas...

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the mill
Not a creature was stirring, there were no squeaks or shrills.
The backcloths were tucked on the shelving with care
And the stone walls protected them from the cold, frosty air.

The scenery was nestled, all neat in their rows
And the only sound came from the crowing of crows.
Every once in a while you’d hear the drip of a tap
Or the soulful old meow from an adventuring cat.

When unexpectedly outside, their rose such a clatter,
The mice all woke up to see what was the matter
Away to the windows they flew like a flash,
But the shutters blew open with an almighty crash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to the mice’s wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
The mice knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On Comet, On, Cupid! On, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the mill—top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of props, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, the mice heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
The mice squeaked in excitement, and as they turned round,
Through the window St Nicholas came in with a bound. 

He was dressed up in overalls and shone like a Saint
As his clothes were all tarnished with glitter and paint,
A bundle of props he had on his back
And he looked like a pedlar just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And the mice squeaked when they saw him, and some hid on the shelf!
But a wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon let them know they had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word but went straight to work,
He unloaded the props, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, through the window he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But the mice heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

“And please do remember” he said with a smile,
“there’s only one place with scenery who’ll go an extra mile.
For magic, enchantment and shows hard to forget
The Border Studio is where you’ll find all of that met”

“The Border Studio works hard to always do their duty,
And provide their customers with things of great beauty.
When we sing and dance up North in the snow,
The Border Studio always provides the scenery for our show

We wouldn’t have any other, it wouldn’t be right,

But anyway, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Our very own adaptation of 'A Visit from St. Nicholas', originally written by Clement Clarke Moore.
Our version was written by Tamsin


We would like to remind our customers that it is definitely not too early to start booking your cloths and pantomimes for next year! Get in touch today so that you don't miss out!

Contact us through our website or by calling us on 01750 20237.

The Border Studio - Design to Inspire
We are a theatrical hire company based in Scotland, and remain one of the UK's most popular scenic suppliers.
With a catalogue of over 100 different shows, the UK's largest collection of hand-painted backcloths and a vast prop store
get in touch today to see how we can help enhance your show.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Add some Magic and Sparkle to your Christmas!

As I'm sure you are all aware Christmas is just around the corner, and Christmas really isn't Christmas without the decorations!

Some of you may already have your trees up and baubles polished, whilst the rest of us are groaning at the thought of having to wrestle your tree out the attic and untangle yards of fairy lights. 

Over here at The Border Studio we like to think we're quite a creative bunch, and we do like to sink our teeth into a good DIY project (as shown by our enthusiasm for knitting blankets and bears for our #bearinablanket project!)
A Christmas Wreath - handmade by our very own Tamsin
This year I decided to put together a list of some of my favourite DIY and 'How To' projects to help you decorate your house in a more creative, and even cost efficient way. Some of these would also be really fun activities you could do with your own children and grandchildren or with youth groups in the lead up to Christmas - and you'll end up with handmade decorations that are a bit more special then a multipack of coloured baubles from the local garden centre.

Of course crafts aren't for everyone - but if you do feel up for a challenge with decorating your house this year then this guide is perfect for those who want to be a bit more creative and hands-on. We certainly think our customers are very creative and hands-on and definitely willing to take on any challenge!
We have tried to find detailed 'how to' guides for each project so just click on the links to find out how to do them yourself. We hope you enjoy!

  1. Ballerina Snowflakes 
  2. Glitter Snowballs  
  3. Wooden Diamonds 
  4. Willow Stars - I learned to construct these on holiday at Centerparcs this year. They can seem a bit fiddly but once you get the hang of them you can do them in your sleep - and they look so pretty hung around the house!

  1. Paper Snowflakes - Best Pattern Collections 1 & 2
  2. Tissue Paper Pom Poms - We used paper pom-poms to decorate our office last year, alongside miles & miles of traditional paper garlands
  3. Swan Place Settings - We couldn't find a 'how to', but I'm sure you can follow these to put together your own design. Perfect for Panto Parties!
  4. Painted Tree Stump Side Tables - A unique way to dress your house, we love these rustic side tables. All you need is a tree, sanding paper, some elbow grease and some pretty paint colours. 
  5. 3D Stars & Snowflakes - we made a few of these last year to hang in the window. Much easier to make then they look! We recommend using a stapler to put together and we made a card 'stencil' to cut around to ensure all the sizes matched.

  1. Glittery Pinecones 
  2. Glittery Leaves Garland 
  3. Leaf Table Setting - Send your children outside to gather some leaves then simply spray paint them! A cheap yet very creative way to sort out place settings.
  4. Glittery Twigs - Again you just need to gather some twigs together and spray glitter over them. Just pop them into a vase and display them in the corner of the room, you can even thread fairy lights through them. They would make an interesting, yet lovely table centrepiece.

Something a little different

Although these aren't strictly Christmassy, we couldn't resist popping them in to show you! The party boxes would be perfect alongside the swan place settings for a Panto themed party, and the paper hats are ideal for New Years. Lots of these decorations could be used to put together a fantastic 'Princess' themed party - with different coloured wooden gems, homemade crowns and Fairy Tale themed decorations the party would be fit for a Queen - you could even reuse all your snowflakes and declare it a 'Frozen' party!
  1. Party Hats
  2. Cinderella's Coach Party Boxes  - we found plenty of similar ones available to buy on eBay
  3. Castle Lanterns
We would love to see how you get on! Make sure you post pictures of your handmade decorations to our Facebook page, tweet us or tag us in your pictures so we can see! 

Written by Tamsin

We would like to remind our customers that it is definitely not too early to start booking your cloths and pantomimes for next year! Get in touch today so that you don't miss out!

Contact us through our website or by calling us on 01750 20237.

The Border Studio - Design to Inspire
We are a theatrical hire company based in Scotland, and remain one of the UK's most popular scenic suppliers.
With a catalogue of over 100 different shows, the UK's largest collection of hand-painted backcloths and a vast prop store
get in touch today to see how we can help enhance your show.

Thursday 4 December 2014

Gearing up for Panto Season...

'Cinderella' - as performed by EROS Musical Society last year

As we finally emerge into a very frosty December, there is only one thing on the minds of anyone who works in theatre - no, not Christmas but Panto Season!

Panto Season has always been the busiest time of the year for us. All our backcloths are regularly booked almost a year in advance, and we spend the months leading up to December having to fend off phone calls from people trying to book pantomime kitchens, woods, Cinderella coaches and beanstalks at the last minute. 

'Hansel & Gretel' - as performed by FMC Technologies last year

This year we are particularly excited as not only are we looking forward to Panto Day on the 12th December, but we are also starting to gear up for the release of Kenneth Branagh's new live action adaptation of 'Cinderella'. We posted the official film trailer on our Facebook page last week - but today also saw the release of the official film posters - a chance to admire the exquisite costumes, opulent settings and all-star cast!

Long before Anna and Elsa from box office phenomenon 'Frozen' came onto the scene, Cinderella has reigned supreme as the nation's most popular panto princess. In fact the recently revealed statistics from the National Database of Pantomime Performance and first ever National Amateur Panto Survey show that 'Cinderella' managed to beat off competition from rival princesses 'Sleeping Beauty' and 'Snow White' to remain the people's princess, and only very narrowly missed out on the top spot, which went to 'Aladdin'.

'Cinderella' has always been a popular pantomime to perform as it is guaranteed to sell tickets. Many a little girl and boy has looked on in awe and wonder as the Fairy Godmother transforms Cinderella from penniless servant into the belle of the ball, and this moment in the Disney film is still remembered as a wondrous and inspirational sequence of animation. After watching the Disney film or seeing a performance at the theatre who doesn't want to find their Prince Charming and have their own Cinderella moment?

From watching the trailer Kenneth Branagh's film certainly doesn't look set to disappoint - with an all star cast featuring many familiar faces from Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones - as well as Hollywood veterans Cate Blanchett as the Wicked Stepmother and Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother, 'Cinderella' also looks to be a great showcase for emerging British acting talent. Although a whole host of starlet's and more-than familiar-faces are rumoured to have auditioned - including Harry Potter alumni Emma Watson and The Wolf of Wall Street's Margot Robbie, it was Downton's Lily James who was picked for the title role - and although this isn't her first foray into film this is certainly her first real blockbuster role.

From the official film trailer and the promotional pictures that have been recently released it is clear that we can expect a real visual masterpiece. Although we can't comment on the standard of acting until we've seen the film (although with cast members including Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi and Kenneth Branagh at the helm, I'm sure we're in safe hands!) we can definitely comment and say that the costumes and settings look phenomenal. We ooohed and aaahed when we saw the first image of Cinderella's gilded carriage, and it's wonderful to see Cinderella's beautiful, and iconic pale blue ball gown brought to life.

Promotional image from 'Into the Woods'

Of course - 'Cinderella' isn't the only show to get the Hollywood treatment this year. With last summer's release of 'Maleficent' starring Angelina Jolie -an adaptation taken from the original story of 'Sleeping Beauty', and the upcoming 'Into the Woods' film which features another all-star cast, including Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and James Corden to name just a few, it seems that cinema is having a bit of a moment in revisiting classic fairy tales and musicals. Another Disney favourite 'Tarzan' is set to be remade, and plenty of rumours are circulating across the internet that 'Wicked' is set to be the next Broadway show to be remade for the big screen. In reverse, in 2014 it was hard to avoid the behemoth that was the box office smashing, record breaking 'Frozen'.

Queen Elsa - a more than familiar face to parents across the world
Apparently there are already talks happening on Broadway as people hope to capitalise on its seemingly unwavering popularity and put together a stage show version. Even now, nearly a year after it's original release, cinemas are still successfully putting on 'Sing a Long' Frozen screenings so we're sure any show that features Queen Elsa and her singing snowman Olaf would have swarms of little girls begging their parents to buy tickets - only last week I walked into Tesco to see they had put on a 'Frozen' party and the small children of the Scottish Borders, boys and girls alike, were queuing up to have their faces painted and buy yet more 'Frozen' merchandise - lunch-boxes, wigs, hair clips and party plates. If it has Elsa's face on it then it's in high demand this year for Christmas.
As it happens, Disney has played a clever card to guarantee that people go see 'Cinderella' by announcing that a 'Frozen' short will play before the film - we're sure that will be leverage enough to persuade plenty of little girls to go pester their parents to book cinema tickets!

Promotional image from 'Into The Woods'

However, as theatre and film fanatics this is no bad thing. We love that these films are being remade into live action movies! It gives us a chance to drool over the big budget costumes and sets and provides us with plenty of inspiration from which to design or enhance our own sets. I think the release of these films will also help rejuvenate flagging theatre audiences - little girls who go see 'Cinderella' at the cinema may ask their parents to buy tickets for the local panto, and families may even decide to go see a show together later in the year. Hopefully, with cinema revitalising these old musicals and stories it helps bring new audiences back to the theatre to see the same shows performed locally, and I'm sure with some clever promotion local theatres can capitalise on any box office successes and trends.

We are sure that this will be a year that we will see lots of little girls and boys queueing up to see the local pantomime with their parents, proudly wearing their Cinderella, Rapunzel and Elsa costumes and frantically waving around their flashing wands and swords. Let's hope that this new interest taken by Hollywood helps bring audiences back to their local theatres and we see a renewed interest in the Arts and the Theatre - especially in the face of government cuts to this area.

Written by Tamsin

'Cinderella' is due to be released on the 13th March 2015
'Into the Woods' is due to be released on the 25th December 2014 

We would like to remind our customers that it is definitely not too early to start booking your cloths and pantomimes for next year! Get in touch today so that you don't miss out!

Contact us through our website or by calling us on 01750 20237.

The Border Studio - Design to Inspire
We are a theatrical hire company based in Scotland, and remain one of the UK's most popular scenic suppliers.
With a catalogue of over 100 different shows, the UK's largest collection of hand-painted backcloths and a vast prop store
get in touch today to see how we can help enhance your show.