Launching a beautiful new centre in Oxford

We create a lot of magical events in retail environments, so when we were asked to be part of the opening celebrations of the new Westgate shopping centre in Oxford we were over the moon! With the well-loved story of Alice in Wonderland rooted firmly in Oxford’s literary culture, this provided a natural creative direction for the centre and Private Drama’s event design. What a theme to work with! The Mad Hatter and White Rabbit delighted the VIP’s on the opening day, with the hilariously wonky Tweedledum and Tweedledee, our inspired tour guides, leading visitors on nonsensical tours of the new site for a full ten days. We created ‘Mercury Headonista’ and her millinery fashionista bunny side kick ‘Whiskers’ who ensured each and every visitor to the centre stepped into the shops in style.  Our workshop designed, made and delivered a fully rotating, walk-in kaleidoscope.  Hosted by Jabber and Wocky, the Westgate fairground hosts,  thousands of visitors experienced the show in the high impact bespoke structure over the first two weeks of opening.

“We are the controllers of the funfair, of the rabbit hole … of the dreams,” cries an eccentrically costumed showman as a three-dimensional kaleidoscope whirls into life. You have entered the realm of “shoppertainment”, a brave new world where retailers aren’t just in the business of trying to sell stuff – they are also in show business. The Guardian
Guardian Westgate Article
We also created a Compendium of Curiosities, a beautifully crafted giant encyclopedia filled with oddities that our ‘Curiositiers’ brought to life with captivating shows that invited the people of Oxford to come up with the lost stories behind their findings.  Great Scott! We almost forgot to mention our intrepid explorers – two frostbitten gentlemen with a strong determination to find their lost jars of Frank Cooper’s Oxford Marmalade from the expedition to the Antarctic. Many a visitor helped them on their quest over the ten days, with many donating various snacks to keep them going!
 Westgate Characters
We absolutely LOVED working on this energetic and exciting project, with immersive theatre embraced and utilised in a retail environment to support the centre’s vision to become cultural and social space, as well as a shopping destination.