Through a lucky chance, I was invited to watch a dress rehearsal of the Avatar Repertory Theater’s production of “Alice” by a friend, Miss Elegia Underwood (who played Alice tonight, but alternates in the role for most of the run). I’m so glad I had the experience; it was a memorable evening of theater, for all that it took place on my electronic-typing-viewglass-thingummy. That is to say, it was a fine production worthy of any playhouse or acting troupe, and in fact it accomplished feats of wonder that a “real life” crew would not be able to translate to the stage.
For one thing, it had lizard men speaking in broad West Country accents falling into cucumber frames. It had a mer-dormouse! It had a singing, dancing gryphon! It had audience members clinging for dear life to their seats in free fall, or desperately trying to click the “pie” menu in order to retrieve flotation cushions! And there were lavish amounts of black pepper, and even a snorting Pig-Baby!
Let’s see the RSC pull that off in live performance, hmm?
I wasn’t able to take photographs during the performance, which was sheer torture, as the scenery-changery-jiggery-pokery is amazing. If you are lucky enough to see the production, which will cost you a mere $L500 to be transported to WonderSLand, do not be late for this very important date. The opening sequence is not to be missed, as there’s a sort of… audience participatory element.
Here are some imaginary disclaimers which might have been helpful if added to the program that I did not have as this was “only a rehearsal.” To my mind, it was an accomplished performance, but still, there could have been some warnings:
You are advised to keep your arms, legs, eyes, ears, and sundry other appendages in the theatre at all times, and no peeking behind the scenery unless you want to be spoiled for upcoming action. You will be amazed at where this production takes you, as it’s quite frankly out of this world. Remain seated, and kindly do not make clicky-clicky noises or touch ANYTHING, or something surprising may happen. Persons and other beings who sit in the front row may find themselves with a lapful of hedgehogs if they are not careful.
I, er, inadvertently touched the [scenery redacted] which caused some puzzlement amongst the cast, and I only realized what I had done when I realized that they had inserted jokes about it into the dialogue.
Oh, dear. At least it was momentary. Sorry, chaps and ladies. It was a WONDERFUL performance and I wish you all a very successful run.
Avatar Repertory Theater to present “Alice in WonderSLand”
Once the line between genius and madness has been crossed, you can never go back, and for one little girl, that line keeps moving. Please join Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole as the Avatar Repertory Theater proudly presents “Alice in WonderSLand”, in an all-original production with our madly talented international cast and team. Lead designer JubJub Forder says “this is not the cutesy Alice you usually find in movies. This is a little girl’s dark fears of growing up.”
Tickets are L$500, available for purchase on XStreet .
Your ticket will contain extra information regarding venue, etc.
The audience will be immersed into WonderSLand, where they will see magical places bloom around them, with a panoramic view of the scenes built by JubJub Forder and his talented crew.
Visit the White Rabbit’s house, enjoy a Tea Party with the Mad Hatter, Dormouse and March Hare, attend a Croquet game hosted by the Queen of Hearts, and witness the trial of the Knave of Hearts in a courtroom where rules are meant to be broken.
Theater presented in a virtual world such as this gives the designers, costumers, builders and actors the opportunity to present entertainment that would be impossible in real life. Our imagination drives those dreams, and we invite you to come play with us in WonderSLand. Avatar designer Ada Radius promises your experience to be “surreal comedy on the edge of a nightmare”, and costume designer Rowan Shamroy is creating a dark look to echo the original Tenniel illustrations, based on the clothing of late Victorian England.
The production, directed by MadameThespian Underhill, features Mickie Nikolaidis and Elegia Underwood alternating the role of Alice, with (in order of appearance) Persephone Phoenix, Sodovan Torok, Joff Fassnacht, Em Jannings, AvaJean Westland, Rowan Shamroy, Kayden Oconnell, Thundergas Menges, Dolgoruky Umarov, Ada Radius, Lailu Loon, Corwyn Allen and JudyArx Scribe. The production team, led by AvaJean Westland, includes JubJub Forder, Ada Radius, Rowan Shamroy, Thundergas Menges, Sodovan Torok, Prospero Frobozz, Elegia Underhill, CodeWarrior Carling, Amon Dragonash, Kayden Oconnell, and Mickie Nikolaidis.
For more information on the production, visit our INFOHUB for the latest updates or contact AvaJean Westland.
To be added to our mailing list, please contact Kayden Oconnell or Ada Radius.
You can also learn more about Avatar Repertory Theater by visiting our website at http://www.avreptheater.com/ or our blog at avatarrepertorytheater.blogspot.com.
I was able take aetheric notes during the performance, and I definitely agree about the “little girl’s dark fears.” Everything is a bit nightmarish and frightening for Alice, although she’s plucky and talks herself out of panicking, and also she attempts to deal with an illogical world logically (with limited success). But the scenes are lovely, and for the most part the voice dialogue was perfectly clear and crisp, with plenty of fun accents and amusing bits of “business” such as sound effects, “OOF!” type reactions, and so on.
At only 40 minutes in, I had no idea what might happen next, even though I’m tolerably familiar with the story. It seems to be a very faithful reading of the book, including dialogue and events that don’t always make it into the usual “movie version” of the work. Mr Johnny Depp can eat his hat for all I care, this production was perfectly well adapted for Second Life, without any unneccessary revisions to the text.
All the actors are performing in voice with animations, scripted objects, and a great variety of dialects. Every scene change is magical, from every angle (as long as you didn’t attach your camera to somebody that went off stage at the end of the scene as I did at first). The sound is very good, and there is also incidental music from various sources. There was even a song-and-dance routine that went quite well aside from a minor miscue with the music. The only major glitch that anybody noticed was that the Queen of Hearts’ voice dialogue was too quiet, but that will be quickly addressed for the performances.
Naturally, this being Second Life, there are some fun liberties taken with how some minor characters are rendered, but also from a stagecraft-y point of view, some of the effects are definitely Not Possible in Real Life. And enjoyably so, I must add. The effect when the Cheshire Cat appeared and disappeared, leaving only a grin, was very nicely done, and the rabbit hole sequence was very inventive and fun. In fact, every scene had some bit of business or other that just really… worked so well for the virtual venue we were in. There were a few sound effects that will be familiar to anyone who’s spent time in Second Life, especially near the end. Quite funny, actually, and amusingly appropriate to the action.
The flamingo-and-hedgehog croquet game, which was in progress at the time I made my notes, is full of thrilling action. There are playing-card croquet hoops, squabbling royals and gentry, squawking flamingos, and bouncing hedgehogs (which generally end up near the first row if not carefully whacked or herded by the cast). I could hardly wait for every scene change – just because it’s so well done each time, and so inventively realized for the virtual stage. The voice work and dialects are extremely good; this production could work as a radio play, but the scenery is so beautifully designed, made, scripted, and textured that not using it would be criminal. I’m told that the production has been in the works for 3 months, and to the company’s credit, it ran beginning to end without any major technical hitches or crashes. Alice, played for rehearsal by Miss Elegia Underwood reported afterwards that she had nearly crashed during the apocalyptic croquet scene, but everyone else evidently covered with hedgehog-whacking and croquet-hoop action, and eventually she was able to resume playing to the end.
After the exciting finale, which made me laugh because it made use of a very clever visual joke, the cast came out for the traditional bows to enthusiastic applause. We audience members were able to give feedback and learn interesting details of how the production worked. I confessed during the Q&A that I was the one that had clicked on the [scenery redacted], which caused no end of jollity to the cast (and a note was made by the properties master to prevent a repeat performance). It was then that the White Rabbit, whose big scene I had nearly ruined, came over and whapped me with his long, fuzzy ears. There was even a “whappity-whappity” sound effect.
Although I may have appeared calm on the outside, on the inside I was thrown back in my chair in convulsions of laughter, and I knew that I’d had yet another amazing “only in Second Life” experience.
I’ve been given carte blanche to go ahead with this aetheric notation, as tomorrow is Opening Night (or Day, or Afternoon, depending on your time zone). So please do go see “Alice in WonderSLand,” and pray that there’s no repeat of the recent #SecondLifepocalypse!