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Friday, November 18, 2011

SL ART & LITERATURE: Join Alice on Her Journey to Become a Queen – ART Presents THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

Photo Courtesy of Crap Mariner
Disclaimer:  I am a columnist, not a critic.  That is my cop-out. With the generous support of our Editor, I write about what I like.  If I don’t like it, I don’t write about it.  So no matter what is said in this column, I loved Avatar Repertory Theater’s (ART) adaptation of Through the Looking Glass, based on the Lewis Carroll classic.  I think you should run, not walk, and get your ticket now while there are still tickets to be had for this marvelous production which plays through December 11th for a limited number of performances.

Rowan Shamroy  and Pipsqueak Albatros
Nonsense is fun.  Nonsense is also difficult.  Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871), a sequel work to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), takes the nonsense and silliness established in the first work and turns it topsy-turvy.  Alice enters the looking glass and engages in a quest across a fantastical chess board world to become a Queen.  The story is brimming with themes of reflected images and characters internally to the work, and also reaching back to mirror the previous book.  Scholars and critics have spent the last two hundred years delving into the allegory and hidden meanings in both works and they still cannot agree.  There is no limit to the possible interpretations: social, political, moral, and sexual.  

Sam Brautigan and Kayden Oconnell
The Rev Charles Dodgson (aka "Lewis Carroll"), the “pure hearted” Oxford mathematics teacher and deacon of the Anglican Church, has been a figure of controversy and conjecture since before his death in 1881.  A relatively recent article in the Smithsonian Magazine (April 2010: Lewis Carroll's Shifting Reputation ) recounts how history interprets Carroll somewhat through the frame of each unique era, and in that light no one really knows for certain what he intended.  I think people see what they want to see in his adventures.  That is the beauty of the books and why they have remained timeless. 

Joff Fasnacht and Pipsqueak Albatros
ART’s production delivers on the promise of nonsensical adventure done with artistry and skill.  Truly, the most “ensemble” piece I have yet to see them perform, there are plenty of fully realized, larger-than-life characters voiced with fully committed live performances.  The visual imagery is strong, based on the famous original John Tenniel illustrations, and the progression of scenes is punctuated with several delightful effects that make the experience all the richer.  It is worth the L$500 price of admission just to be part of the train scene. 

Singling any one performer or performance out is virtually impossible.  It is sometimes hard to remember that this is a live performance, but the Linden’s Grid has a way of reminding you.  I find one of the great marks of the ART experience and the measure of their skill is how seamlessly they deal with the slings and arrows of performing in the virtual world.  It is thoroughly professional.  I know real life professional theater companies who would have been thrown into utter chaos had their “Alice” suddenly disappeared during the first scene, as happened at the opening performance I attended.  But this is not news to ART and part of their company format is to cast “crash doubles” so that the show truly can go on, and usually does with very little delay.
Sodovan Torok, Caliban Jigsaw, Em Jannings and Avajean Westland

That takes us back to nonsense.  Nonsense is hard.  The more nonsensical it is the harder it is to sustain.  The book Through the Looking-Glass is about 3000 words longer than Wonderland with a denser structure and longer chapters.  ART’s performance is on the long side of 90 minutes.  I could not help but feel that it still needed a little air squeezed out of it, and about 10 minutes trimmed away.  I think this is a combination of tightening up a few more scenes in the performing of them, and in the adapted text itself.  Being ruthless in trimming down a beloved classic like this is not an enviable task.  Inevitably you end up cutting out some really exquisite writing, and someone’s very favorite part no matter what you do.  The flip side of that is that when dealing with nonsense the text can become your enemy in mere moments.  You no longer have explicit sense to sustain you through, and you risk people tuning out at some point.  On the whole ART does a great job of making sense from none. I just think a wee bit more pruning of the text might have perfected the form of the already fragrant and beauteous rose.  Stop by the grocery store, real or virtual, and you can find five other equally valid opinions.  This one is just mine.

Corwyn Allen and Pipsqueak Albatros
It seems like ART just gets better and better at presenting creative, inspired, well rounded productions that truly embrace the opportunity of the virtual world as a tool for live artistic performances.  They are a ton of work!  But ART that hard work pays off in the passionate artistry of their productions. It is exciting to think what ART can achieve as they move forward, and how innovatively they continue to involve audiences in their live performances.  I hope we shall have the opportunity to see many more such theatrical delights from this amazingly diverse and talented company in the future.  Bravo!

Curiouser and curiouser, through the looking-glass, where things look the same, only the things go the other way. . . . Twas brillig, and Alice finds herself moving through a large chessboard, where the Red Queen gives her lessons in royalty, Tweedledum and Tweedledee battle and rattle, Humpty Dumpty sits on a wall, and the Red and White Knight try to fight for her.

View the You Tube Trailer, and get a taste of the magic and mischief that ART has prepared for audiences.

To purchase tickets, go in-world to ART’s home in Cookie, locate the poster with the date of your choice and click to get a link to the Marketplace.

Performance Dates:
- Friday, November 18 at 11 pm       
- Sunday, November 20 at 1 pm
- Saturday, December 3 at 3 pm
- Sunday, December 4 at 1 pm
- Friday, December 9 at 11 pm
- Sunday, December 11 at 1 pm

All show times are Second Life Time (SLT or PST)

Avatar Repertory Theater can be found on the web at

Avatar Repertory Theater is a project of New Media Arts, Inc., a nonprofit organization tax exempt under IRC 501(c)(3).

~ Caledonia Skytower, Reporting
“Any ink is good ink, even if it is virtual.”

Note:  A Special Thank You to Crap Mariner for the use of his photos of the show!  “Mille Gracie!”  Click Here to see more!  


  1. /me salutes

    (The one with Alice and the cat looking over the edge of the table is my favorite.)



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