Photo Daniel Haber

Alice

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Sharman Yarnell for Curtains Up

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.” Lewis Carroll

So what did I expect when I asked Harry Standjofski what was in the back of his mind? As usual clear, unadulterated creativity – other stuff, too, perhaps, but I won’t go there!

Standjofski has adapted Lewis Carroll’s Alice series for the students of the Concordia Theatre Department to dig there imaginative teeth into –

Not the first time he has connected with Alice, he has borrowed from his two earlier pieces based on Carroll’s Alice (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass for Geordie Productions) and created a “remix”. “I’ve taken all the funniest bits, the most entertaining bits from them, and put them in here.” Remember, Disney was notorious for taking from all of the books for his adaptation – Tweedledee and Tweedledum weren’t in the first book.

There has always been a question as to whether Carroll wrote Alice for children or for adults, but it has always been a child’s book. As crazy and as wild as her world gets, she is never really in danger in Carroll’s story, she is never scared – that’s what makes it for kids. “But it is very much for really rich children of an excellent education.”

Photo Daniel Haber

While he stays with the original theme, Standjofski does make a few changes. Alice is still a private school child from a well to do family. The jokes, the word play are there but…with a twist. “Sometimes even the adults don’t get the references in the original, so I’ve created contemporary word play that the audience would understand. I have also bumped Alice’s age to 13, things are changing for her, her body, life around her, so that opens the door to an understanding of the adult world.The whole point is to make it funny and understandable for today’s audience. What’s the point if the references are not understood?”

The Alice stories have always been imaginative and entertaining and sticking with that, Standjofski wanted to create something fun for the students, something that would draw on their imagination. Having seen his work before, there is no doubt he has managed to do just that.

Directed by Dean Patrick Fleming, the onstage work is entirely student produced with the set, lighting and acting all done by the theatre students.

This has given Standjofski the impetus to write a fourth book with Alice as a young woman kind of like Andre Gregory, who did a adaptation with an improvised piece of Alice, kind of hippie in the 70s. Any adaption of a story is done with the hope that someone watching the production will go back to the original and read it.

In this version, the story opens the same way, by the river, with her sister reading a book, the rabbit comes by and down the rabbit hole they go-

The rest of the shenanigans, dear reader, I leave to you, Harry Standjofski and the Concordia Theatre Students.

Photo Daniel Haber

Alice is on at the D.B. Clarke Theatre, April 6 at 8 p.m.
7, 8, and 9 at 8 p.m.; April 8 and 9 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 regular, $5 students and seniors.
For tickets and more information:
514-848-2424, ext 4555

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