By Elizabeth Sekkes
Lewis Carroll’s beloved tale, Alice in Wonderland, has intrigued and enthralled many for decades. Perhaps one reason why people are so transfixed on the story is the fact that it grabs hold of the audience and takes them on a wild and daring adventure.
And that first step in the adventure awaits you at Bridgewater State University’s renowned theater this fall.
From October 25 to 27 and October 31 to November 2, Bridgewater State’s theatrical group will present alum William Donnelly’s artistic adult rendition of Carroll’s famous tale, in a way that has never been seen before.
According to the website of BSU’s Box Office, Painted Alice is a “musical that takes us down the rabbit hole of an artist’s imagination.”
Filled with color, wit and an artist’s ingenious stroke of imagination, Painted Alice is sure to be a hit among BSU students and mature members of their families.
Matthew Greene, the producer for Painted Alice said that the production focuses on Alice as a fledgling New York City artist, who is struggling to find inspiration, sponsors and patrons for her work.
“It’s a modern adaptation of Alice in Wonderland,” said Greene. “The director prefers to use reimagining.”
Greene said the production still incorporates Carroll’s portrayal of Alice as she grows and matures, but it focuses more on Alice maturing as an artist. Greene said a major difference in this representation of the story, however, is that it has a dark tone to it, and deals with the topic of suicide.
Greene added that Painted Alice is slightly reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz, in that characters whom Alice comes in contact with are later represented as characters and figures in Wonderland.
Rebecca Dunlavey, a junior business management major said that as an avid fan of Carroll’s tale, she is looking forward to seeing what Painted Alice is about.
“I just really love Alice in Wonderland,” said Dunlavey. “And I know we have a really good theater and dance department, so it should be good. And I want to see how they relate it to the original story of Alice in Wonderland. The title is really intriguing. I don’t know what that means. I really want to see it.”
In a note contained in the Painted Alice program, Donnelly, the author of the play, explains that his wife actually served as the muse for his inspiration to create Painted Alice.
“My wife and I were brainstorming a new project–we’ve been collaborating on original plays since our time at Bridgewater in the early ‘90s–and I asked her what sort of story she was interested in directing next,” said Donnelly in the Painted Alice program. “She said she wanted to do something either inspired by Alice in Wonderland or something about an artist who gets lost in her own painting. We dropped the ‘or’ and landed on the first version of Painted Alice.”
Greene said a wide range of art is presented throughout the production, which represents Alice’s transition of figuring out what form of art best suits her. According to Greene, works of art ranging from art similar to that of Pollock, to works of art resembling modern shapes will be shown, all of which were created by the cast and crew of the production. Famous works of art will also be presented, in the form of posters.
Greene describes the costume scheme for the production as being “modern with a playful fantasy twist on it.” According to Greene, the costumes range from pertaining to the renaissance era to the fantastical. The caterpillar, for instance, is depicted as an art critic who wears a long coat, which represents his tail.
Despite its rather mature and arresting elements, Greene said the production has a positive message for viewers to take away with them.
“One of the major themes is making room in your life for love,” Greene said. “Not only by other people, but loving yourself and loving your work.” Greene also said that the theme of the production stresses the fact that it is important to accept that we are capable of being loved.
All these important lessons are learned by Alice toward the end of the production. According to Greene, “she decides to choose life and find great art in her life.”
Elizabeth Sekkes is a Comment living-arts writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.