October 2, 2015 - January 16, 2016
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts will present the exhibit Alice Live! The exhibit will trace the history of Lewis Carroll’s immortal Alice stories in live performance from their first professional staging in 1886 to the present day. Alice Live! will open on October 2, 2015 through January 16, 2016 in the Oenslager Gallery, Shelby Cullom Davis Museum. The exhibit is curated by Charlie Lovett, a collector of Carroll materials for over 30 years, author of Alice on Stage and other studies of Carroll, and the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Bookman’s Tale and First Impressions. The exhibit will include over 250 items drawn from Lovett’s own collection, the rich depository at the New York Public Library, the University of Southern California, New York University, the Center for Puppetry Arts, and other private collections.
Alice Live! will begin with an examination of Lewis Carroll’s own enthusiastic theatergoing and then document the first professional stage production of Alice in London in 1886. A lengthy letter from Carroll to dramatist Henry Savile Clarke and a Carroll drawing from the Berol Collection of New York University will be displayed. Early productions will be documented with playbills, advertisements, and photographs, including a recently discovered set of photographs of the first production of Alice in Wonderland on the Broadway stage in 1915.
New York productions will be especially well documented. Highlights include a set of watercolor costume designs from a 1933 Alice sketch at Radio City Music Hall in 1933; materials from the Eva Le Gallienne productions of 1932, 1947, and 1988 all on Broadway; a Mad Hatter puppet from Tony Sarg’s adaptation that appeared on Broadway in 1930; and materials from Vinnette Carroll’s But Never Jam Today and Liz Swados’ Alice at the Palace, starring Meryl Streep.
A case of playbills from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first will document not just the variety of productions of Alice over the years, but the development of the playbill itself. Photos of Alice performers through the years will show similar developments in costumes and conception of the main character.
Alice Live! will cover not just theatre but ballet, opera, music, and even versions of the stories performed on ice and underwater. A centerpiece is a six by seven foot full-color lithographed poster from Emilie Littler’s 1933 British production. An 1875 music book and 1880 script include two of the earliest illustrations of Alice by artists other than the original illustrator, John Tenniel. Sheet music from 1872 shows the first colored illustrations of Alice. The exhibit, which is designed to appeal to all ages, will also include a children’s trail, with items mounted at a lower level and a special Alice-themed treasure hunt for younger visitors.
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