Project Statement by Stage Manager, Bini Lee ’21
The experimental virtual spring production of 2021, Alice Without Alice, came a long way to become the one-of-a-kind achievement of teamwork and creativity. Student actors were challenged in many ways: the universally problematic pandemic that prevented conventional in-person collaboration, the intentional nonexistence of the renowned protagonist Alice, and students scattered across time zones all over the world.
Despite the challenges, actors divided across time and location found ways to adapt and reconnect in the virtual world. Depending on each student’s circumstances, students worked in-person or virtually through Zoom to invent interpretations of an otherworldly Wonderland and its characters that nobody has ever seen or heard of.
Similarly, the production team met virtually to discuss the development of a virtual production, presentation method for the public, and composition of musical tracks to accompany scenes brought to life by student artists. The special guest composer, T. Adam Salameh, was commissioned to produce unique, non-copyright-restricted music tracks for different moods that can be heard in Alice Without Alice.
The collaborative effort of many people in different locations, time zones, and disciplines is what you will see in Alice Without Alice.
Process Statement by Dramaturg, Madeline Johns ’22
The wonderful thing about creating a devised show is the autonomy each actor has over their own piece. Alice in Wonderland was chosen because of its accessibility; it’s in the public domain and is a story that many are familiar with. Each actor was assigned a chapter of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to read over spring break and develop a narrative, drawing directly from the text. Some chose to focus on a character, others a quote or moment from their chapter, but all were tasked with creating a distinct storyline while also embracing the book’s fantastical and bizarre nature.
Specific requirements to aid the actors in their devising included
- A pivotal moment in their story that grabs the audience’s attention,
- The spine line—a line from their chapter that encapsulates what the story is about,
- An objective—what their character(s) want,
- An obstacle—what stands in their character(s) way.
Because every piece had its own theme, each actor, whether working solo or in a duo, got to decide what was important to them, the story, and the message they wanted to convey. The students honed in on their individual styles and talents in this new medium and reinvented this classic story to be relevant today.
This story has been revamped to reflect our current world, societal demands, and the rabbit hole we seem to have fallen down during the pandemic. This series demonstrates how confusing, outlandish, and even mad these times are and the extraordinary and absurd art that comes out of it.
- Opening Theme
- Chapter 1: Down the Rabbit Hole by Kate Dolan ’24
- Chapter 2: The Pool of Tears by David Feng ’21
- Chapter 3: A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale by Iris Davis ’24
- Chapter 4: The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill by Christina Bao ’22
- Chapter 5: Advice from a Caterpillar by Alexa Bird and Maya Jain ’24
- Chapter 6: Pig and Pepper by Peishan Huang and Jerry Li ’24
- Ch. 7: A Mad Tea-Party by Jessica Schottland and Lily Diamond ’24
- Ch. 8: The Queen’s Croquet-Ground by Harrison Lee ’24
- Ch. 9: The Mock Turtle’s Story by Lily Bentley ’22
- Ch. 11 and 12: Who Stole the Tarts and Alice’s Evidence by Andy Zhang ’22
- Bonus: “Jabberwocky” by Teacher Mitch
- Bonus: “S.A.D. Alice”
“What Theater Means to My Life” by the Cast of Alice Without Alice
Teacher Sarah Sullivan working with Kate Dolan on editing her chapter.
Lily Diamond rehearsing with their prop.
The entire ensemble meets on Zoom.
Alexa Bird and Maya Jain shooting their green screen footage.
Students moving props and furniture for a film shoot in the South Woods.
Jerry Li editing from Westtown Distance Learning.
Production managed by Teacher Sarah Sullivan, Director of Theater Design & Production
Composed by Adam Salameh
Artistic Statement by Composer Adam Salameh
I’m a drummer, keyboard player, songwriter, recording engineer, and music producer from Boston, MA. I create music as a therapy for myself. I’d be lost without it.
This project is my attempt at blending together two passions of mine: cartoon music and late 1960s rock. My tools include recording equipment, digital audio workstations, percussion, but most importantly: toy instruments from the 1980s. I’ve spent the last four years accumulating a collection of inexpensive synthesizers that were originally marketed to children. I was ecstatic to have the perfect project to use them in! I find the limiting workflow and objectively terrible sound of these instruments to be captivating to listen to and freeing to work with. I’m constantly searching for creative, out-of-the-box ways to use them to create sounds that are unique, strange, and fun.
My studio process involves an unyielding commitment to always being careful and deliberate with my music while being open-minded enough for joyful pandemonium. It’s a balance. I pace around my studio asking myself, in a serious tone, “What are you trying to say with this piece?”. Twenty minutes later I have my sweatshirt tied around my head and I’m dancing while rocking the cowbell. If you don’t have fun making it, nobody will have fun listening to it.
Alice Without Alice Playlist by Composer Adam Salameh
These albums inspired Adam to create the music for Alice Without Alice.
Other Pandemic Theater at Westtown