Alice in Wonderland’ comes to Bristol

BRISTOL — Who in Vermont or in the entire English-speaking world has not delighted in the whimsical flights of “Alice in Wonderland?” From July 22-24, Bristol’s Holley Hall will host a production of Lewis Carroll’s imaginative fantasy as a benefit for the Lawrence Memorial Library. The play was adapted for the stage from the original story by Jim Stapleton and is directed by Melissa Jennison.
Stapleton, who wrote last year’s fundraising play, “The Problem in Bumbalabumba,” adapted the Alice play more than twenty years ago when he lived on the Olympic Peninsula. He was drawn to Alice from childhood memories, enhanced by a discussion with his college math professor who assured him that after he mastered number theory, topology and non-Euclidean geometry, he might be in a position to read “Alice in Wonderland!” Indeed Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Charles Dodgson, taught mathematics and logic at Oxford University and put many of his math problems into his Alice books.
“Alice in Wonderland” has been interpreted in many ways — as a lexicon of puns, a parody of nineteenth century British politics, a satire on educational methods and a harrowing underground tour of Dodgson’s unconscious. “But no one today,” Stapleton says, “goes to Alice to study mathematics or learn about any of those other things. We come for the silliness, the childlike imaginative flights, for the plain old fun of it.”
Director Melissa Jennison is an early educator and has taught theater and improv to preschool and school-aged kids. This is her first go at directing a play for the Bristol Gateway Players.
The actors in this production are all young and winsome, aged from four to 15. But a few are long in the tooth, theatrically. A number of them starred in last year’s library fundraiser, and many more have been on stage in their schools and playgrounds. Their reactions to performing this Alice range from “Here’s one more chance for me to shine” to “Whoa — you mean all those people are going to be looking at me!” Mary Lynch, who plays the Queen of Hearts, exulted: “I have a loud voice, and people are always telling me to quiet down. In this play, I get to yell at everybody!” Ruby Markowski, the Gryphon, said, “I like playing my part — because the Gryphon is supposed to be really bored and dreamy, and sometimes I’m like that.” But Benji Havey, the Knave, had a simpler take: “I love just being in this play!”
“Alice in Wonderland” will be presented on Friday, July 22 and Saturday, July 23, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, July 24, at 1 p.m. in Holley Hall, Bristol. Suggested donation: $5 child, $10 adult, $20 family. Homemade refreshments will be available. For more information, call the Lawrence Memorial Library at 802-453-2360. The play is cosponsored by the Bristol Gateway Players and the Bristol Recreation Department.

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