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OPINION: Century of Madness and New Swift Moves

The “Alice in Wonderland” tradition was performed by Meredith College’s faculty and staff on Feb. 9 and 10, 2024. The weekend marked the tradition’s 100th anniversary, as it was first performed in 1924. “Alice in Wonderland” has been reproduced in several adaptations since the release of the children’s novel, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” in 1865 by Lewis Carroll; however, I will be specifically focusing on the 2024 Meredith College stage play and the 1951 “Alice in Wonderland” film and comparing the two. 

The “Alice in Wonderland” film released in 1951 was one of my favorites growing up because I used to watch it when I was feeling sick and stayed home from school, so I admit I was excited to see this story performed by the Meredith faculty and staff members. One of the first things I noticed upon flipping through the program was that there are additional characters in the play that were not elements of the film. For example, Humpty-Dumpty, the Duchess, the Cook, the Gryphon and a few other unfamiliar characters were listed. I think that these additional characters not only allowed for more faculty and staff involvement but also for more creative expressions. During the play, the casts took advantage of the opportunity to incorporate witty humor into their roles that were relevant to their department or position within the Meredith community. Another thing that stood out about some of the characters was the lack of verbal interaction between certain ones. For instance, in the introduction of the film, Alice’s sister is giving Alice a lecture and reading to her, whereas the Meredith play opened with a greeting from the Dodo. Another example of this is the Tweedledee and Tweedledum dance break that occurred in the Meredith play, which differed from the film’s silly encounter between the Tweedles and Alice in which they speak to her and introduce the Walrus and the Carpenter story. 

By excluding certain interactions from the play, the faculty and staff were able to incorporate more musical elements and dance performances. Since Tweedledee and Tweedledum never talked to Alice in the play, they did a dance break to a compilation of songs by Taylor Swift, which modernized the experience and arguably appealed to a large portion of the Meredith College demographic. The soundtracks between both the play and the movie are starkly different, as the play contained more popular music from this generation of Meredith students. However, it also included other generations of music in a dance break leading into act two of the play. The dance break had a blast-from-the-past theme, as the Deck of Cards danced to decades of music starting from the 1920s and working up to current hits. The dance breaks were my favorite parts of the play because I got to enjoy watching different members of the faculty ‘get down and bust a move,’ which I otherwise wouldn’t see in the typical classroom setting. It was amusing getting to see how much fun the professors were having on stage in a setting outside of lecturing. 

The Meredith adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland” served as a parody of its original story and the 1951 film by incorporating many pop culture references and jokes about current society. In the play, they discussed the pronouns of time and made a few references to the “Barbie” movie that was released in 2023. Aside from that, it contained many similarities to the film in the way the characters' personalities were portrayed. The Hatter was mad, the Dormouse was sleepy and the Queen of Hearts wanted off with their heads. Overall, the Meredith “Alice in Wonderland” tradition was an experience that I was glad to be a part of and brought on feelings of nostalgia while also implementing new elements of humor from my adulthood that made it very enjoyable. 


By: Elaina Irving, Reporter 

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