Friday, March 5, 2010

We're All As Mad As Hatters Here

Hello Endstation Friends,

I am tickled pink to be directing Alice In Wonderland this summer. Below I have constructed the beginnings of some of the design conversations and ideas for the show. I love pictures (as you'll see) and I hope that these will give you a better idea of the experience we're hoping to create with Alice this summer.

ENVIRONEMENTAL PREPARATION:
Prologue is a black and white world begging to be soaked in color.
Wonderland looks like an upside down carnival.
Wonderland smells like grass stains and sugar tarts.
Wonderland sounds like an out of tune one man band.
Wonderland characters look like they’ve played dress up in grandmother’s attic.
Wonderland is lit by multi-colored fire-flies.
Wonderland is constructed out of childhood dreams and adventures.
Wonderland is the giggling sensation of spinning on a merry-go-round.
Wonderland leaves a tingling sensation on your finger tips and leaves you begging for more.
Wonderland contains every color and texture other than boring.
Everything in Wonderland is completely tangible, even from miles away.

WonderLESSland vs. Wonderland

At its core, I believe this play is a coming of age story. Alice is struggling with her desire to be playful and mischievous vs. what she’s told is appropriate for a girl her age. I think that’s something everyone can relate to, not just children. How do you grow up but still maintain an air of fun and excitement? With that being said, I’d like to marry two conceptual ideas. The first being, that Wonderland is completely fabricated in Alice’s mind. This is HER wonderland, her invention, her dreams, her journey and characterizations of what she experiences in WonderLESSland. The second being, that in her mind Alice views Wonderland as a topsy-turvy Carnival of sorts.
Why a Carnival?
Carnivals are fun, colorful, distracting, full of character, and oh SO BIZARRE…just like Wonderland. In my opinion carnivals also have a sense of innocence that is marred by the adulthood of it all. Fun and games can often times turn in to shady business or even be incredibly terrifying as you step on to that all too rickety loop-de-loop run by the toothless Carney. But I don’t want us to get too caught up in putting a simulated Carnival ride on the stage, but rather taking the sensation, the wonder that we experience when we go to a carnival and channeling that sensation through Alice’s imagination.
Take yourself back to your first experience on a merry-go-round…









Remember the up-side excitement you felt in your belly?
Remember watching the world spinning around you and wanting so badly to grab a hold of it?Remember stepping off of the merry-go-round and having a new outlook on the world around you?










Each scene as a test that Alice has to pass in order to move towards a balanced and focused viewpoint. Each scene is a new carnival game and as she plays each one she gains more confidence in herself…her world become less bizarre and she is able to grasp the curiosity of it all. She steps off of the loop-de-loop, the merry go round, the Ferris wheel with a new found confidence.
SET: Our Portal to WONDERLAND!
I want us to think about ways to take the audience on this adventure in a physical and intensely tangible way. New Victory Theatre recently did a production of HANSEL AND GRETEL in which the audience literally walked through the forest to reach the playing space. I’d like for us to consider doing something similar forALICE. I’d like to think of the audience literally falling down the rabbit hole with Alice. Let’s create a portal to Wonderland.
If this is a world that exists in Alice’s mind let’s challenge ourselves to match her creativity and point of view. How does she manifest the things in Wonderland that she sees in WonderLESSland? I like the idea of everyday objects being used for different means. What wonder does she find in ordinary things and how do they exist in Wonderland? This world should be completely tangible to all the senses.

LIGHTS: When we’re in WonderLESSland the lighting will be natural, day light.









Once we enter Wonderland the lighting should be tangible, bright, buzzing, and completely magical. Alice tumbles in to this bizarre world that she’s not quite sure how to navigate at first. She has a sensation that everything is whizzing by her, similarly to being on the teacup ride or at the center of a merry-go-round.

As she finds her footing in Wonderland she begins to see things more clearly. Everything is still saturated with color, but she beginning to find more focus.
Wonderland exists in Alice’s dreams and imagination and this is her journey towards finding the balance in adult responsibilities and the excitement of childhood adventure. As she begins to understand this balance the lighting becomes less maniacal and but still dream like.

She is seeing things clearly but still with wonder…

COSTUMES: Lewis Carroll wrote Alice n Wonderland in the late 19th century. This is an era known for its invention and discovery, which I find particularly interesting since his novel is all about a young lady challenging her own imagination and wanting to discover what’s beyond the ordinary. Wonderland itself exists in time continuum of its own, but I’d like to keep WonderLESSland in something reminiscent of the 19th century.

When we enter Wonderland the costumes can still be reminiscent of this era, but it becomes more important that they are inspired by Alice’s imagination. If she were playing dress up in the attic how would these characters look? I’d like consider the types of personalities one may encounter at a carnival and perhaps find some inspiration there. For example is The Queen of Hearts becomes Wonderland’s carnival barker? The Knave becomes the loveable hooligan who scrounges around



I'd like to close out this blog with the following video clip . I believe it perfectly illustrates this idea of finding a balance between everyday obligation and the desire to just play. Check it out! I promise it will add a little wonder to your day!

4 comments:

AshleyZ said...

Susan this is beautiful. I can't wait to see what you all create!

Megan said...

Lovely. Just Lovely ; )

Michael said...

susan! this is all very exciting. i love the direction in which you're heading. don't let geoffrey tell you you can't cover the stage with light bulbs, he'll reference an excuse relating to "money" or "funds". people like you and i know that "money" is so cliche. demand more light bulbs. and balloons. or whatever.

怡伶 said...

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour..............................................