Aleksandar Antonijevic of the National Ballet of Canada
The National Ballet of Canada is on the move and they are taking Alice with them. Last weekend the company appeared at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles to perform Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and scored by Joby Talbot. Ecstatic reviews suggest that the production was every bit as successful as the much-lauded North American premiere in Toronto in 2011 and it’s world premier in London earlier in the same year. North Americans will have another chance to see the ballet when it moves to the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. for performances from January 18 – 27, 2013.
Three thousand miles to the north west, the Connecticut Ballet recently performed an Alice in Wonderland aimed more squarely at children. The show, which included spoken narration by artistic director Brett Raphael, was performed once in Stamford and once in Harvard. The Harvard production, held at the Aetna Theater, part of the Wadsworth Atheneum, was just one in a series of ballets for families; Barbar the Elephant & Jungle Tales and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer will follow early next year.
The Cincinnati Ballet present Septime Webre’s ALICE
Meanwhile the Cincinnati Ballet has had the great good fortune to present the regional premiere of Septime Webre’s ALICE (in wonderland) from October 26 to 28. Matthew Pierce’s score was performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. After a quick trip to the dry-cleaners, Liz Vandal’s outrageous costumes should now be on a plane heading south as Webre’s creation will next be performed by Ballet Hawaii in August 2013.
If you feel your day would benefit from a touch of ballet this very minute, check out the video below – it is an excerpt from the London premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, performed at Covent Garden. You know you are in Wonderland when a ballerina gets to eat jam tarts on stage.
If you are wondering what you could do this weekend that might bring a little more Wonderland into your life, permit us to offer the following suggestions:
If you live in New York, you could try to get last minute tickets to Then She Fell, a creepy trip down the rabbit hole staged in an abandoned hospital and described by the New York Post as “a fiendishly clever immersive theater piece.” If the show is all sold out, you could console yourself by booking tickets to AliceGraceAnon at the Irondale Center between October 21 and November 9. The play depicts an emotional collision between three girls: Carroll’s fictional Alice, the lead singer of Jefferson Airplane, and the anonymous narrator of Go Ask Alice, the diary of drug taking that caused sensation in 1971. Reviewers say it is seriously trippy…
If you live in Seattle, you could try and gate-crash the 110th Annual Conference of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association at Seattle University to see Amanda Lastoria of Simon Fraser University deliver a paper called “Selling Wonderland: How Lewis Carroll Built his Alice Empire.” In her paper Amanda will advance her thesis that Lewis Carroll was a publishing dynamo whose considerable business savvy has been little recognized.
If you live in Manchester, England, you could see Gaynor Arnold speaking at the Manchester Literary Festival about her new book After Such Kindness, a fictionalized account of the relationship between Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell. The event will be held at the Portico Library on Saturday at 6.30 p.m.
And if you live anywhere else, well, isn’t it time you started planning your Alice-themed Halloween costume? A good source of ideas might be this this photo slide show of recent and not-so recent big-budget, Alice-themed events. The slide show reveals both what a strange assortment of organizations decide on an Alice in Wonderland theme for their event (OfficeMax is one) and that the Canadian Cancer Society knows how to throw a good party.
Ben Whishaw and Judi Dench (also known as Queen Elizabeth I and ‘Q’ from the next James Bond movie). What might they have talked about?
Yes, our website is salvaged from savage pirates, and we have a lot of news to catch up on. Speaking of pirates… Peter Pan! (Sorry, that was a horrible transition. We’re a little rusty.) John Logan has written a play about Alice Liddell Hargreaves (the muse for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland) and Peter Llewelyn Davies (the Peter who inspired J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan). It’s called Peter and Alice. What might they have said to one another when they were older? We’ll find out in March 2013 on the London stage, where the roles will be played by Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw. The playwright won an Academy Award for writing the movie Gladiator, so hopefully Alice and Peter will fight lions! Or, have tea and discuss“questions about how people cope with being hurled into the public eye as children.”
“Of course that’s how it begins: a harmless fairy tale to pass the hours”
When Alice Liddell Hargreaves met Peter Llewelyn Davies at the opening of a Lewis Carroll exhibition in 1932, the original Alice in Wonderland came face to face with the original Peter Pan. In John Logan’s remarkable new play, enchantment and reality collide as this brief encounter lays bare the lives of these two extraordinary characters.
Judi Dench plays Alice and Ben Whishaw plays Peter in Logan’s first new play since Red, which went on to win six Tony Awards in 2010.
Director Michael Grandage Set and Costume Designer Christopher Oram Lighting Designer Paule Constable Composer and Sound Designer Adam Cork
Alas, while our website was down due to an extremely malicious (and really, what was the point???) hacker malware attack, we missed alerting you to a production at the FringeNYC2012 play festival called Phantomwise. James, one of our blogmasters, remembers that this play was first produced for three performances by the Yale Dramat when playwright Oren Stevens was an undergraduate there.
If anyone saw the Fringe production, please do post a comment and let us know more about the piece and the production.
Rachel Teagle’s adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, now premiering at the Serenbe Playhouse, presents an unfamiliar Alice, ”an introverted Alice, closed off from the world, her imagination, and most tragically, her ability to DREAM.” But can Alice be Alice if Alice cannot dream? Read Jim Farmer’s review from the Atlanta arts website ArtsATL, or go see the show and let us know what you conclude.
Serenbe Playhouse performs outdoors in the Serenbe community, a 1000-acre planned development 30 minutes from Atlanta that aspires to be “a national model for the future of balanced development in the U.S.” The theatre company participates fully in the vision of the community “modeling Green Theatre Practices by producing plays with a commitment to social responsibility and environmental stewardship.”
Alice in Wonderland
June 1 – July 28th (Fridays & Saturdays at 11am)
Serenbe Playhouse, The Forest Glen Stage (Near The Tree House), Serenbe, GE
With only two performances left of a six-night show, Alice in Wonderland at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis seems to have been charming and challenging the critics in equal measure. “South Korean composer Unsuk Chin’s five-year-old Alice in Wonderland might be the most “out there” work I’ve seen in 22 years of coming here” says Scott Cantrell, classical music critic for the Dallas Morning News.
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (Ken Howard)
With prime episodes wittily adapted in a libretto by David Henry Hwang and Chin, the score matches Carroll for sheer weirdness and unpredictability — and humor. I was delighted for about an hour and a half of the nearly two-hour, no-intermission work, but found the end overly protracted.
Vocal lines often dart widely, although Alice sings a lullaby to the Duchess’ pig baby. There’s a fair bit of Sprechstimme, halfway between speech and singing, and the Duchess tosses off a streetwise rap. The Caterpillar “speaks” through an onstage, be-fezzed bass clarinetist, while the words of his exchange with Alice are merely projected on the walls. More (and some photos). . .
John von Rhein at the Chicago Tribune seemed to enjoy the evening:
Ashley Emerson made a spunky, engaging Alice, clear of voice and accurate of pitch, although her soprano sometimes failed to penetrate the thorny scoring. The Caterpillar was danced by choreographer Sean Curran and “sung” by bass clarinetist James Meyer, with members of the children’s chorus trailing behind as segments of the insect’s body. Tracy Dahl’s Cheshire Cat, David Trudgen’s White Rabbit, Matthew DiBattista’s Dormouse, Aubrey Allicock’s Mad Hatter, Julie Makerov’s Queen of Hearts and Jenni Bank’s Duchess also were standouts amid the large ensemble. Every one of them went at the blithe lunacy of their roles hammer and tongs. More. . .
The St. Louis performance is the U.S. premiere of Unsuk Chin’s work. At the world premiere in Munich in 2007 it received a decidedly mixed response, as one review recounted: “In the end, the audience divided violently. The lusty, loudly sustained boo’s seemed to overwhelm the less numerous but also sustained applause.” No such reports from the St. Louis show, just congratulations to a brave and talented ensemble.
The final performance will be on June 23rd at 8pm, at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, 210 Hazel Avenue St. Louis, MO.
Germany’s MS Schrittmacher just premiered an interesting “Alice im Wunderland,” which ran from March 28 thru April 7. The show was actually staged at Berlin’s Hermannplatz, a Karstadt department store. DerekScally of the Irish Times reviewed it in English, and he gives us a glimpse into what went down:
MS MS Schrittmacher's Alice im Wunderland, at Berlin's Hermannplatz
Here, Lewis Carroll’s 19th-century favourite has been given a postmodern, 21st-century makeover.
Alice is now a frazzled 40-something with lanky blonde-brown hair and her Wonderland is a consumer hell: Dante’s Inferno meets Are You Being Served?.
For the next 90 minutes, a small audience follows her through the department store during opening hours.
Regular customers stare, open-mouthed, at this unannounced undermining of capitalism and consumerism before their eyes – and this in one of Berlin’s largest shopping temples, with the full blessing of the Karstadt management.
Upstairs in the women’s department, the smoking Caterpillar is now a patronising sales assistant. Her advice to Alice, who is increasingly confused about who she is: in this consumer world your identity is your clothes size, you are the brand you buy.
As the scene plays out, a Karstadt customer, trapped in the adjacent changing room, tries to hide behind the curtain her mortification at becoming an unwitting extra in this capitalist critique.
The world premiere of Septime Webre’s ballet Alice (in Wonderland) in Washington, D.C., is less than a month away and Washington Life magazine is readying the town with a front cover photoshoot for their March edition. Sneak peak pictures are below and more can been seen online at Washington Life.
Also on the website is a behind-the-scenes account of the photoshoot, which involved trampolines, live white rabbits, and photographer Dean Alexander snapping the camera at just the right moment.
Skin Horse Theater Presents: "The Hunting of the Snark" by Lewis Carroll
Fresh air and nonsense is available for all at the New Orleans Museum of Art for the next two Saturdays of this month. The Hunting of the Snark, adapted for children by Skin Horse Theater, is being performed in the Sculpture Garden on March 10 and March 17 at 3pm. Admission is free. These daytime performances will each be followed by an evening performance at the Backyard Ballroom, 3519 St. Claude Avenue, at 10 pm, with a $5 admission fee. Will these late night Snarks be equally child-friendly, we wonder? The Backyard Ballroom doesn’t have a website; to find out more about the performances call (504) 473-6819.
Founded at Bard College in 2008, Skin Horse Theater has a bit of history with Lewis Carroll: their inaugural performance was Curiouser: A Historical Inaccuracy, which entwined the lives of Lewis Carroll, Alice Liddell and Sylvia Plath.
Opening night for the Washington Ballet’s ALICE (in wonderland) is just around the corner and tickets are selling quickly. The world premiere production is the work of Washington Ballet choreographer Septime Webre, designer Liz Vandal, and composer Matthew Pierce. It is being heralded as a fantastical take on an already pretty fantastical story and the contribution of Liz Vandal, whose creations you may have seen at the Cirque du Soliel’s OVOshow (the one with the insects), certainly suggests that this ballet is going to be a splendid spectacle.
Vandal’s costume sketches for the production were unveiled in January and were featured on the Huffington Post. They seem to promise a little bit of the familiar and a lot of the very strange indeed. Many more character sketches can been seen in a slideshow that accompanied the Huff Post’s article.
ALICE (in wonderland) will run from from April 11-15 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Eisenhower Theater, with only seven performances in all. Tickets are priced from $55 to $155.