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Becoming Alice

More than 25 years ago, Dr. Jackson, “with a little smile on her face,” came to ‘Alice’s’ office and asked her to play the role of Alice in Meredith’s adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland.” As a Meredith alumna herself, ‘Alice’ remembers watching the Meredith production and being “spellbound,” not knowing that one day she would play the main character Alice. This year marked her eighth time playing Alice. Some faculty members continue to play their parts until their retirements, as for example the previous White Rabbit. For the White Rabbit’s last performance,  a new nurse character was added to the play to push him around the stage as he was in a wheelchair. 

Alice started preparing for her role in the Fall before the production. Alice recounts recording herself and a colleague reading the entire play; the media specialists in the library later helped her convert the DVD into an MP3 file which she was able to access on her phone. Week after week, ‘Alice’ listened to the play in her car as she commuted to school.  By the end of the Fall semester, Alice was able to go off script. She notes that her  lines are very interwoven with everybody else’s,  and so, the most important element for her is getting the lines down. Typically cast members start getting together in groups and practicing a few weeks before the play. Alice also adds that night practices began the week leading up to the production, and this is when cast members actually get up on the stage. 

To prepare for her role, Alice described how she looked at illustrations from the original “Alice in Wonderland” book  to get a feel for the role. She used a cat prop for the very first time during the 2024 play since Dinah, Alice’s pet kitten, is referred to multiple times in the script. Not only that, but the attention to detail put into Alice’s costume is astonishing. Alice herself makes sure she looks similar to Alice from the book illustrations. She explained how she noted that “ in some of the illustrations Alice has on black and white striped tights. The dress color in the book varies; it’s sometimes blue and sometimes yellow. But there’s always the pinafore, and of course the Disney look that students are familiar with always includes that blue dress.” As a result, she explained how she always wears the blue dress and the pinafore.  In order to keep to the authenticity of the role, Alice recalled that she would even adjust her haircut schedule to ensure that her hair would grow out to an appropriate length by the time of production. 

In terms of her overall understanding of the character, Alice shared that her vision came from the novel itself, which she explained is “set in the Victorian period.”  Alice spent time looking at different illustrations from the book to gain an understanding of the character. She noted that in the book  Alice is “trying to make sense of a world that does not make sense, and she is always trying to do her best to be polite.” Alice described her character from the book as a “good little girl” but that “at times she gets fed up!” For example, in one book illustration, Alice looks “a little grumpy at the tea table because people are always correcting her and even telling her that she needs to cut her hair. 

At the end of the play, Alice noted how  she calls the Wonderlanders out as only a pack of cards. That’s a great example of Alice going strong! 

By Salma Emjaheed, Contributing Writer

Photo courtesy of 'Alice'


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