ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Literary adaptation from the original opera Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
musical in English
target audience: junior high school students
Lewis Carroll was the pen name with which professor Charles Lutwidge Dodgson published his literary works. He was born in Daresbury (Cheshire), on 27th January, 1832, into a family of the British upper-middle class. He cultivated an exceptional passion for mathematics from when he was a child and eventually became lecturer at Christ Church College, Oxford, where he wrote logic and geometry essays, With an interest in the newborn art of photography, he was considered to be one of the most important photographers of the Victorian age. Above all, he wrote one of the most-loved fantastic novels of all time: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. As at that time a literary career was not considered recommendable for a serious university teacher, Dodgson chose to publish under the pseudonym of Carroll. Dodgson continued teaching and leading his normal daily life while “Carroll” continued writing: in 1871 he published Through the Looking-Glass, and what Alice Found There that were followed by other less famous texts. He died in Guildford on 14th January, 1898.
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
- Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871)
- The Hunting of the Snark (1876)
- Rhyme? and Reason? (1883)
- Sylvie and Bruno (1889)
Tradition says that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was born as a divertissement, that Charles Dodgson created it to entertain three little friends, the daughters of the rector Henry Liddell, during a boat trip. Then, one of the children, Alice Liddell, begged him to put the story down in writing and so was born a first version (with only four chapters and illustrated by the same author) of what would become the story we all know. The setting where the adventures of the protagonist takes place is in a dream: Alice dreams of chasing a strange White Rabbit who continually looks at his watch and complains of being late in loud voice. Following him, she literally falls in a paradoxical world, governed by surprising and unknown logic, where things change their nature very fast, and sees her physical dimensions and her reference points change. There is a succession of encounters: the Mad Hatter, the Duchess, the Cheshire Cat, the dangerous Queen of Hearts with her passion of cut-off heads, flamingos used as croquet sticks, and songs of mock turtles, until Alice finally exits the dream and, finding again the sense of proportions, wakes up just in time for tea time.
With the staging directed by Edward Johnson (Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz) the traditional story of Alice in Wonderland acquires rhythm and modernity thanks to the strength and the visual impact typical in the musical theatre: the mother tongue actors adopt a physical and expressive acting style and perform captivating choreographies that enhance the personality of each character. The music plays a leading role: the different songs do not have just the function to let the action go on, but constitute a real carefully chosen “soundtrack”: Crazy, For Once in My Life, On the Road Again, Defying Gravity… these are just some examples of the tracks performed live by the young actors. The costumes in Victorian-style have been chosen for the characters of the first and last scenes (set in England at the end of the 19th century), while among the inhabitants of Wonderland there prevails an eccentric look, made up of strange colour combinations. The set design is vivid and fantastic and it is conceived in order to be functional for the representation of the magic world of Wonderland. The lighting effects create different atmospheres, according to the situations and emotions felt by Alice, and the images projection amplifies the fairy-tale and surreal effect, captivating the students enough to make them feel part of the show.
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