Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel, ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ is a tale that explores the mysterious disappearance of three schoolgirls who vanish on a Valentine’s Day picnic in 1900 in the remote Australian bush. The story was turned into an iconic 1975 film by Peter Weir, and now more than 40 years later is now about to be launched as a a television series.
On Sunday 6th May the revamped series ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ will premiere at 8:30pm on Foxtel.
Alyssa Tuddenham is an Australian actress who landed the role of Lily Kenton, and Tuddenham told Dscribe about the connection and relationship she has with her character as finding “a sense of similarity”.
“I was cast as Lily Kenton, Lily is a New Zealand sister and is described as lumpen and more the muscle of the group. She attends Appleyard College and is there to be refined and certainly there being prepared to become the ideal woman. There is definitely a sense of similarity between myself and my character, the fact that we are still fighting for equality and the chance to become the best versions of our self without having to conform to societies view is still a present argument that we face today”.
The highly anticipated first episode of Picnic at Hanging Rock is a “small taste” of the bigger and better twists and turns yet to come throughout the six-part series according to Tuddenham.
“It’s a modern thriller mystery to say the least, every episode takes you to a new height and really gives you a deeper understanding of each character’s challenges which we really haven’t seen before. The first episode sets the stage for what is to come, it certainly gives you a small taste of some of the unique and wonderful characters this story brings with it. For another generation to go through this iconic Australian story with the ability to binge on all 6 episodes at once will be an adventure for sure”.
In comparison to the novel or the 1975 film Tuddenham explains “we have more time to dive into the amazing stories of this iconic novel and film, but you simply can’t compare them”.
Travelling back to the 1900’s through setting and costume allowed the cast to place themselves firmly in the intricacy of the story. Filmed primarily in Victoria, you may even recognise some sets in the first episode.
“Every location we filmed at further enhanced the expectations and energy of the scene. Whether it was filming in the Macedon Ranges or in Clunes, it set the overwhelming reality of what life would have really been like during that time. We would film in some beautiful heritage listed houses and places all over Victoria, from Werribee Mansion to Como house, we would go in and all be blown away with how authentic it was to the timeline and story”.
There is no doubt that fashion has changed drastically since 1900, as well as the freedom women have to dress according to their liking. Tuddenham talks early-20th century style and how to act ‘proper’.
“Wearing around 8 layers of clothing and undergarments really assisted in getting into character and understanding a small part of what it was like in the 1900s. It really gave you a sense of what women had to go through. We attended a deportment class before filming started and it was such a restrictive thing being taught how to sit and walk with elegance but as soon as you put the amazing costumes on you felt an overwhelming sense of refinement in all your movements”.
At the young age of 18, Tuddenham was studying in her final year of high school during filming for ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’, she talks juggling commitments and staying on top of school work.
“All together filming went for around three months, throughout this time I was studying and knew that it would probably mean I would be unable to go into school and attend all my classes. While we waited to go onto set we would sit in our costumes and study, making sure we stayed up to date with our work, although it was increasingly difficult to work while in a tight corset and 8 different layers of clothing”.
The cast of the new series is made up of numerous renowned actresses such as Game of Throne’s star Natalie Dormer, Orange is the New Black Australian gem Yael Stone, and fellow Australian Anna McGahan known for her work in Underbelly to name a few.
“When the cast announcement was released I was so excited to be working alongside some amazingly talented actors and how female-led this production was going to be. From day one on set the atmosphere was ecstatic, the cast and crew were ready to put their all into such a strong female-led story and it has shown in all of what is to come. Working some of the crazy hours we did would have been near impossible if it weren’t for the strong energy and amazing support from everyone that worked on the show”.
The opportunity to work with experienced and well-known women in the entertainment industry has allowed Tuddenham to consider future prospects, with her time in Picnic at Hanging Rock tucked firmly under her wing.
“Acting has always been a vision of mine and Picnic really enhanced my love for working in such a diverse but challenging industry. At this stage there have been no other projects, but Picnic has made me think a lot harder about my next step in life”.
It is doubtful that Australian’s need to be swayed to watch the premiere of the supernatural crime drama, however Tuddenham has faith in the show’s success.
“Having to describe this series in one word is almost impossible but once you watch the first episode you can’t stop, it is simply captivating…”