Alice - Act I Libretto

 

 

Alice - (2001-2013)    

Adventures in Wonderland

Adapted from Lewis Carroll by Gary Bachlund & Marilyn Barnett

After the stories of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking-Glass.

 

 

for eighteen soli and chamber orchestra

 

 


 

Adventures in Wonderland

i.   Prologue

 

[Against a scrim at the front of the stage is projected a portrait of Lewis Carroll, flanked by his photographs of Alice Liddell. Carroll is discovered seated at a writing desk, pen in hand.]
 
Lewis Carroll

All in a golden afternoon,
full leisurely we glide.
Who are you, Alice?
What are you in your foster-father's eyes?
How shall I picture you?
Loving first - loving and gentle:
Loving as a dog (forgive the prosaic simile,
but I know no earthly love so pure, so perfect)
And gentle as a fawn.
Then, courteous to all - high or low,
grand or grotesque, king or caterpillar.
Trustful - ready to accept the wildest impossibilities
with all that utter trust that only dreamers know;
Lastly, curious -
wildly curious, and with the enjoyment of life -
that comes only in the happy hours of childhood,
when all is new and fair,
when Sin and Sorrow are but names -
empty words signifying nothing!
Alice!

 

ii.   Prelude to a Golden Afternoon

 

[Curtain rises on a riverbank scene, a rowboat pulled onto the bank, the remains of a picnic lunch visible. Lewis Carroll manipulates a large marionette of a white rabbit (dressed in a duplicate of the costume worn by the White Rabbit at his first entrance). His audience consists of Alice, her two younger sisters, and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth. Alice is busy making a daisy chain. The youngest girl spies something offstage worth investigating and points excitedly to it. She imperiously drags Duckworth away, motioning for the others to follow. Lewis Carroll looks questioningly at Alice, who, politely stifling a yawn, shakes her head and remains seated, putting the finishing touches on her daisy chain. Carroll exits. Alice is left alone onstage. She yawns again, then sleepily curious, looks into a book left behind by Duckworth.]

 

iii. Childhood Dreams
 

Alice

Well, what is the use of a book,
without pictures or conversations?

[Alice awards the marionette rabbit the "Order of the Daisy Chain," then yawns again and stretches out, ready for a nap. She sleeps. The White Rabbit appears from behind the boat.]

White Rabbit
All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
For both our oars, with little skill,
By little arms are plied,
While little hands make vain pretense
Our wanderings to guide.
Alice! A childish story take,
And, with a gentle hand,
Lay it where Childhood's dreams are twined
In Memory's mystic band,
Like pilgrim's wither'd wreath of flowers
Pluck'd in a far-off land.
All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
For both our oars, with little skill,
By little arms are plied,
While little hands make vain pretense
Our wanderings to guide.

 

[Big Tom, the Christ Church clock, strikes to half-hour. Startled, the White Rabbit checks his watch. Alice awakens in time to see him.]

White Rabbit
Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!
I shall be too late! I shall be too late!

[Carefully he replaces the watch in his waistcoat pocket. The White Rabbit makes his way to the rabbit hole, dropping his gloves and his fan in his haste, and disappears. Alice picks them up and runs after him. She follows him down the rabbit hole. The riverbank disappears. Alice's fall into Wonderland occurs in slow motion. Alice lands in a hall and spies the White Rabbit.]

 

White Rabbit
Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it's getting!

[Alice tries to follow but runs into a door which mysteriously has closed behind him. A ballet of doors move in front of and behind Alice; gradually they recede. Meanwhile, very slowly and unperceived by Alice, water rises all around her.]

 

iv. Waiting by the Door

Alice
Dear! Dear!
How queer everything is today.
Where in the world am I?
Oh dear! How puzzling this all is.
Let me see if I know all the things I used to know.
Four times five is twelve,
and four times six is thirteen,
and four times seven....
Oh, dear! Oh, dear!
[She notices the rapidly rising water and begins to panic.]
London is the capital of Paris,
and Paris is the capital of Rome,
and Rome....
That's all wrong!
I'll try and say
"How doth the little...."
[Water gets into her mouth, preventing her from finishing the sentence.]
How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!
[By now she is treading water.]
Oh, dear! Oh, dear!
Where am I, then?
Tell me that……
Who am I?
I am so very tired of being all alone here!


v. The Caucus-Race


[She sees a Mouse swimming along with other creatures.]

O Mouse, do you know
the way out of this pool?
Perhaps it's a French mouse...
Ou est ma chatte?

[The Mouse shrieks and quivers with fright. Other creatures are alarmed at Alice's rudeness.]

Mouse
Ah!

Alice
Oh, I beg your pardon.
I quite forgot you didn't like cats.

Mouse
Not like cats!
Would you like cats,
if you were me?
Our family always hated cats:
nasty, low, vulgar things!
Don't let me hear the name again!

Alice
Are you -
Are you fond of dogs?
There is such a nice little dog,
near our house.
Kills all the rats, and -
Oh dear!

[All characters gather together.]

Mouse
Let us get to the shore.
I'll tell you my history,
and you'll understand why it is
I hate cats and dogs.

Lory
The first question of course....
How to get dry.

Mouse
How to get dry.
Ahem!
This is the driest thing I know.
[Reciting]
William the Conqueror, whose cause was
favored by the Pope was soon submitted
to by the English, who wanted leaders,
and had been of late much accustomed
to usurpation and conquest.
Edwin and Morcar, the earls of Mercia and
Northumbria....

Lory
Ugh!

Mouse [Haughtily]
I beg your pardon!
Did you speak?

Lory
Not I!

Mouse
How are you getting on, my dear?

Alice
As wet as ever.

Dodo
The best thing to get us dry
would be a Caucus-Race.

Alice
What is a Caucus-Race?

Dodo
A race course, in a sort of a circle.
The exact shape doesn't matter.
One, two, three and away!
[They run in a circle, following the Dodo. The Dodo stops suddenly.]
The race is over!
Everybody has won,
and all must have prizes!

Mouse
But who is to give the prizes?

Dodo
Why, she, of course.

Lory
Prizes!

Mouse
Prizes!

Dodo
Prizes!

Lory
Prizes!

[Alice finds some comfits in her pocket and hands them around.]

Dodo
But she must have a prize herself, you know.
What else have you in your pocket?
[Alice produces a thimble from her pocket.]
Hand it over here.
[Alice does so.]
We beg your acceptance
of this elegant thimble.

[The Dodo presents it back to Alice.]

Alice
Thank you.
You promised to tell your history.

vi. The Mouse's Tail

Mouse
Mine is a long and sad tale.
Fury said to a mouse,
That he met in a house,
'Let us both go to law;
I will prosecute you.
Come, I'll take no denial;
We must have a trial:
For really this morning
I've nothing to do.'
Said the mouse to the cur,
'Such a trial, dear Sir,
With no judge or jury,
Would be wasting our breath.'
'I'll be judge, I'll be jury,'
Said cunning old Fury:
'I'll try the whole cause,
And condemn you to death!'
You are not attending!
What are you thinking of?

[The Mouse storms off angrily.]

vii. He Took Me for His Housemaid

Alice [Calling after him]
I beg your pardon.
Please come back,
and finish your story!

Lory
What a pity it wouldn't stay.

Dodo
Let this be a lesson to you
never to lose your temper.

Alice
I wish I had Dinah here.
She'd soon fetch it back.

Dodo
And who is Dinah?

Alice
Our cat.

Lory
Ah! A cat!

Dodo
A cat!

[All the remaining creatures scream, and run off.]

Alice

I wish I hadn't mentioned Dinah.
Nobody seems to like her here.

[The White Rabbit scurries by, looking for something.]

White Rabbit
The Duchess!
Oh my dear paws.
Oh my fur and whiskers!
Where can I have dropped them?
What are you doing here?
Mary Ann, run home this moment,
and fetch me a pair of gloves and a fan!

[He disappears again.]

Alice
Gloves and a fan.
[Taking them out of her pocket and regarding them thoughtfully, then replacing them in her pocket.]
He took me for his housemaid.
But, I'd better take him his fan and gloves.

viii. Father William

[She sets out after him. Suddenly, a Caterpillar appears, sitting upon a large mushroom and smoking a hookah.]

Caterpillar
Who are you?

Alice
I hardly know, Sir.

Caterpillar
Explain yourself!

Alice
I'm not myself, you see.

Caterpillar
I don't see.

Alice
I think you ought to tell me who you are.

Caterpillar
Why?
[Alice turns away, to leave.]
Come back! I've something important to say.
Keep your temper.

Alice
Is that all?

Caterpillar
No.
So, you think you've changed, do you?

Alice
I'm afraid I am, Sir.
I can't remember things I used to -

Caterpillar
Can't remember what things?
Repeat "You are old, Father William."

Alice
"You are old, Father William," the young man said
"And your hair has become very white,
And yet you incessantly stand on your head -
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

[The Caterpillar joins her, playing 'Father William.']

Caterpillar
"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure my brain;
But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."

Alice
"You are old,' said the youth, "as I mentioned before
And have grown most uncommonly fat,
Yet you turned a somersault in at the door -
Pray, what is the reason for that."

Caterpillar
"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
"I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment - one shilling the box -
Allow me to sell you a couple?"

Alice
"You are old," said the youth,
"and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose,
with the bones and the beak -
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

Caterpillar
"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life."

Alice
"You are old," said the youth,
"one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose -
What made you so awfully clever?"

Alice/Caterpillar
"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said his father, "Don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down-stairs!"

Alice [Apologetically]
Not quite right, I'm afraid.

Caterpillar
It is wrong from beginning to end.
Are you content now?

[The Caterpillar gets off the mushroom, and crawls away.]

xi. Pig and Pepper

[Fish-Footman enters, bearing an over-sized letter. He knocks at a door in the mushroom. A Frog-Footman opens the door of the mushroom-house and inadvertently closes it behind him.]

Fish-Footman
For the Duchess.
An invitation from the Queen to play croquet.

Frog-Footman
From the Queen.
An invitation for the Duchess to play croquet.

Fish-Footman
For the Duchess.

Frog-Footman
From the Queen.

Fish-Footman
Duchess.

Frog-Footman
Queen! Queen!

[The Frog-Footman stomps off. The Fish-Footman stands at the door of the house, as Alice approaches the house, from which is heard noises. She knocks.]

Fish-Footman
There's no use knocking. First, because I'm
on the same side of the door as you are.
Secondly, because they're making
such a noise inside, no one could possibly hear you.

Alice
Please then, how am I to get in?

Fish-Footman
Are you meant to get in at all?
That's the question, you know.
I shall sit here, on and off, for days and days
days and days, days and days, and days!

Alice
Oh, there's no use talking to him.
He's perfectly idiotic!

[The door is thrown open, and the Cook storms out, pot and spoon in hand and, seeing Alice, offers her a taste of the soup. The Duchess appears carrying a baby.]

Cook
Too much pepper in that soup?
Too much!

Alice
Too much pepper in that soup?
[Politely]
Oh, I don't know.
[Suppressing a sneeze.]

Duchess
You don't know much, and that's a fact!

Alice
Certainly too much of it in the air!
Ah- - -

Duchess
If everybody minded their own business,
the world would go round a deal faster
than it does.

Alice
Ah - - -

Duchess
- - - choo!

[The Duchess begins to shake the baby. Unobserved, a Cheshire Cat creeps onto the roof and watches, grinning.]

Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes:
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.

Duchess/Cook
Wow! Wow! Wow!

Duchess
I speak severely to my boy,
I beat him when he sneezes;
For he can thoroughly enjoy
The pepper when he pleases!

Duchess/Cook

Wow! Wow! Wow!

Duchess
Here! [Handing the baby to Alice.]
You can nurse it a bit, if you like!
I must go and get ready
to play croquet with the Queen.
Croquet with the Queen!

Alice
If I don't take this child away....
Don't grunt!
That's not a proper way
of expressing yourself!
If you're going to turn into a pig,
I'll have nothing more to do with you!
[She gives the baby to the Cook, who exits.* Cook could put the baby into the pot, if it is sufficiently large-then exit.]
An dreadfully ugly child,
but it makes a rather handsome pig.

[The Cheshire Cat smiles down on Alice.]

Alice
Would you tell me, please,
which way I ought to go from here?

Cheshire Cat
That depends a good deal
on where you want to get to.

Alice
I don't much care where...

Cheshire Cat
Well, then it doesn't matter which way you go.
In that direction lives a Hatter.
And in that direction, lives a March Hare.
Visit either you like; they're both quite mad.
We're all mad here.
I'm mad.
You're mad.

Alice [Indignantly]
No!

Cheshire Cat
You must be or you wouldn't have come....
Do you play croquet with the Queen today?

Alice
I haven't been invited.

Cheshire Cat
By-the-bye,
what became of the baby?

Alice
It turned into a pig.

Cheshire Cat
Ah!
Did you say 'pig' or 'fig?'

Alice
I said 'pig.'
It turned into a pig.

Cheshire Cat
I thought it would.
We're all mad here.
I'm mad.
You're mad.
You must be or you wouldn't have come....
Wouldn't have!
I'm mad.
You're mad.
We're all mad here.
Mad! Mad!

x. Three for Tea and Four Makes More

[The Cheshire Cat disappears abruptly. The mushroom-house descends back into the ground, revealing the Mad Hatter, March Hare, and Dormouse at a tea-table.]

Alice
Raving mad, after all.

Mad Hatter
No room! No room!

March Hare
No room! No room!

Alice
There's plenty of room!

Mad Hatter
For whom?

Dormouse/March Hare/Mad Hatter
No room! No room!

[Alice sits at the table. The Dormouse tends to doze off.]

March Hare
Have some wine!

Alice
I don't see any wine.

March Hare
There isn't any.

Mad Hatter
...isn't any.

Alice
Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it.

March Hare
It wasn't very civil of you to sit down
without being invited.

Mad Hatter
Why is a raven like a writing-desk?

Alice
I believe I can guess that.

March Hare
Do you mean that you think
you can find out the answer?

Alice
Exactly so.

March Hare
Then you should say what you mean.

Alice
I do, at least - at least, I mean what I say.
That's the same thing, you know.

Mad Hatter
Not the same thing a bit!
Why, you might just as well say
that "I see what I eat"
is the same thing as "I eat what I see"!

March Hare
You might just as well say,
that "I like what I get"
is the same thing as "I get what I like"!

Dormouse
You might just as well say,
that "I breathe when I sleep"
is the same thing as "I sleep when I...
[Yawning]
...breathe"!

March Hare
It is the same thing with you.

Mad Hatter
What day of the month is it?

Alice
The fourth.

Mad Hatter
Two days wrong!
[To the March Hare.]
I told you butter wouldn't suit the works.
[To Alice.]
Have you guessed the riddle yet?

Alice
No. What's the answer?

Mad Hatter
I haven't the slightest idea.

March Hare
Neither have I.

Alice
You might do something better with the time
than wasting it in asking riddles that have no answer.

Mad Hatter
If you knew Time as well as I do,
you wouldn't talk about wasting it.
I dare say you never even spoke to Time!

Alice
I know I have to beat time when I learn music.

Mad Hatter
Ah, that accounts for it.
He won't stand a beating.
Now, if only you'd kept on good terms with him,
He'd do almost anything you'd like with the clock.
Suppose it were nine o'clock, time for lessons.
Whisper to Time, round goes the clock.
Half-past one, time for dinner!

March Hare [Wistfully]
I only wish it was.

Alice
That would be grand, certainly.

Mad Hatter
You could keep it to half-past one as long as you liked.

Alice
Is that the way you manage?

Mad Hatter
Not I.

xi. Twinkle

We quarreled last March -
just before he...
[Indicating the Hare]
...went mad -
at the concert given by the Queen of Hearts.
I had to sing... "Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you're at!"
You know the song, perhaps?

Alice
I've heard something like it.

Mad Hatter
It goes on...
'Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea-tray in the sky,
Twinkle, twinkle...."

Dormouse [Sleepily]
"Twinkle, twinkle..."

Mad Hatter
Well, I'd hardly finished the first verse,
when the Queen of Hearts bawls out,
"He's murdering time!
Off with his head!"

Alice
How dreadfully savage.

Mad Hatter [Sadly]
And ever since then
he won't do a thing that I ask.
It's always tea-time.
Tea-time, we've no time to wash things.

Alice
Then you keep moving round?

Mad Hatter
As the things get used up.

Alice
But what happens when
you come to the beginning?

Mad Hatter [Shiftily]
Ah!
Suppose we change the subject?

Alice [Surreptitiously examining the interior of her teacup.]
Hmm.

xii. Tell Us a Story

March Hare
I vote the young lady tell us a story.

Alice [Rather alarmed]
I don't know any stories.

Mad Hatter/March Hare
Then the Dormouse shall!
Wake up, Dormouse!
Wake up! Wake up!

Dormouse [Sleepily]
I wasn't asleep...

March Hare
Ha!

Dormouse
I heard every word you fellows were saying.

Alice
Tell us a story!
Yes, please do!

Alice/March Hare
Tell us a story!

Mad Hatter
Be quick about it, or you'll be asleep again
before it's done.

Dormouse
Once...
[Huge yawn]
...upon a time there were three sisters,
and they lived at the bottom of a well.

Alice
What did they live on?

Dormouse
They lived on treacle.

Alice
But they'd have been ill.

Dormouse
So they were; very ill....
Very ill.

March Hare
Very ill.
Take some more tea.

Dormouse
Very ill.

Alice [Slightly offended]
I've had nothing yet, so I can't take more.

Mad Hatter
You mean you can't take less.
It's very easy to take more than nothing.

Dormouse
And so these three sisters -
they were learning to draw...

Alice

What did they draw?

Dormouse
Treacle.

Mad Hatter
I want a clean cup,
let's all move one place on.

[They all move over.]

Dormouse
They were learning to draw,
and they drew all manner of things -
everything that begins with an "M."

Alice
Why with an "M?"

March Hare
Why not?

[Dormouse, who had begun to doze, is pinched awake by the March Hare.]

Dormouse
...that begins with an "M."
Mouse-traps, and the moon,
and memory, and muchness.
Did you ever see such a thing
as a drawing of muchness?

Alice
A drawing of muchness?
Now you ask,
I don't think....

Mad Hatter/ March Hare
Then you shouldn't talk.
Shouldn't talk, 'cause there's....

Dormouse/March Hare/Mad Hatter
No room! No room!

Alice
Well!

[Alice leaves the table sharply.]

That's the stupidest tea-party
I ever was at in all my life.
But everything's curious today.

White Rabbit
The Queen! The Queen!

[The Mad Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse echo the White Rabbit's cry, and run off terrified.]

xiii. Off!

[The Queen of Hearts enters in high dudgeon, preceded by the Gryphon bearing a banner emblazoned with a Mock Turtle encircled by the inscription "Queen of Hearts and Marchioness of Mock Turtle", and followed by the King of Hearts, the White Rabbit as Herald, and the other eleven Hearts.]

Queen of Hearts
Off with their heads!
Off with their heads, I say!
Lop them off, and chop them off,
and pop them off, I say!
Off with their heads!
Off! Off! Off! Off!
Off with every little one of their heads!
Off!

xiv. The Croquet Party

[Noticing Alice.]

Who is this?
What's your name, child?

Alice
Alice.
My name is Alice, so please your Majesty.
[To herself]
They're only a pack of cards.
I needn't be afraid of them.

Queen of Hearts [Indicating the Cards.]
And who are these?

Alice
How should I know?
It's no business of mine.

Queen of Hearts
Off with her head!
Off with her....

Alice
Nonsense!

King of Hearts
Consider, my dear:
she is only a child..

Queen of Hearts
Can you play croquet?

Alice
Yes.

Queen of Hearts
Come on, then!

[The Queen of Hearts begins to play, needless to say with minimal regard for the rules.]

White Rabbit [To Alice, with an nervous eye on the Queen.]
It's... It's a very fine day.

Alice
Very!
Where's the Duchess?

White Rabbit
Hush! She's under sentence of execution!
She boxed the Queen's ears....

Alice [Smothering a laugh]
Ha!

Queen of Hearts
Get to your places!
Off with his head!
Off with her head!

Cheshire Cat [Appearing suddenly]
How are you getting on?

Alice
I don't think they play at all fairly.
They don't seem to have any rules.

Cheshire Cat
How do you like the Queen?

Alice
Not at all. She is so extremely...
[Noticing the Queen listening]
...likely to win, that it is
hardly worthwhile finishing the game.

[The Queen of Hearts smiles and moves on.]

King of Hearts [To Alice]
Who are you talking to?

Alice
A friend of mine.

King of Hearts
I don't like the look of it at all.
However, it may kiss my hand, if it likes.

Cheshire Cat
I'd rather not.

King of Hearts
Don't be impertinent!
[to the Queen]
My dear! Have this cat removed.

Queen of Hearts
Off with his head!

Alice
It belongs to the Duchess:
you'd better ask her about it.

Queen of Hearts
Fetch her here!

[The game resumes till the Duchess is marched on.]

Duchess [To Alice]
You can't think how glad I am to see you again.

Alice
The game's going on rather better now.

Duchess
'Tis so, and the moral is - Oh, 'tis love, 'tis love,
that makes the world go round.

Alice
Somebody said that it's done by
everybody minding their own business.

Duchess
Ah well, it means much the same thing,
and the moral of that is "Take care of the sense
and the sounds will take care of themselves."
[Weakly, to the Queen who has suddenly come by...]
A fine day, your Majesty.

Queen of Hearts
Either you or your head must be off,
and that in about half no time.

[The Duchess exits hurriedly. To Alice]

Have you seen the Mock Turtle?

Alice
The Mock Turtle?

Queen of Hearts
The thing Mock Turtle soup is made from.
[To the Gryphon]
Up, lazy thing!
Take this young lady to see the Mock Turtle.
I must see after some executions.

[She exits, followed by the court.]

xv. A Visit to the Mock Turtle

Gryphon [In a definitely non-U accent]
It's all her fancy.
They never executes nobody, you know.
Come on!

Alice
I never was so ordered around before.
Never!

[Alice and the Gryphon walk. Sounds of sobbing are heard. They come upon the Mock Turtle, who is weeping.]

Mock Turtle
Ah!

Alice
What is his sorrow?

Gryphon
It's all his fancy, that;
he hasn't got no sorrow, you know.

Alice
No sorrow?

Gryphon
No.
This here young lady wants for to know your history.

Mock Turtle [Speaking with an extremely upper-class accent]
Ah!
Sit down and don't speak a word till I've finished.
Once...
[Big sigh]
....I was a real turtle.
[They listen encouragingly.]
We were so little.
We went to school in the sea.
The master was an old Turtle
We used to call him Tortoise.

Alice [Unable to refrain from interrupting]
Why did you call him Tortoise if he wasn't one?

Mock Turtle [Irritably]
Because he taught us!!
[Resuming his tale]
Reeling and Writhing,
then the different branches of mathematics -
Ambition, Distraction,
Uglification, and Derision.
There was Mystery - ancient and modern.
Then Drawling, Stretching,
and Fainting in Coils.
We were so little.
Ah!

Alice
How many hours a day did you do lessons?

Mock Turtle
Ten hours the first day,
and then nine the second, and so on.
That's the reason they're called lessons,
because they lessen from day to day,
day to day, day to day.

Gryphon [Interrupting]
That's enough about lessons.
Games, now.

Mock Turtle [Sobbing]
Ah!

[The Gryphon is obliged to shake the Mock Turtle to stop his sobbing.]

Mock Turtle
You may not have lived much under the sea....
[Sobs]

Alice
I haven't.

Mock Turtle
..and perhaps you were never even introduced to a lobster?

Alice
I once tasted…
[hastily recollecting herself]
... No, never.

Mock Turtle
So you can have no idea what a delightful thing
a Lobster-Quadrille is.

Gryphon
You form into a line along the sea-shore....

Mock Turtle [Irritated by these constant interruptions.]
Two lines!
You advance twice!

Gryphon
Each with a lobster as a partner.

Mock Turtle/Gryphon
Change lobsters, and retire in the same order.

Mock Turtle
Then you throw...

Gryphon
...the lobsters...

Mock Turtle
...as far out to sea as you can.

Gryphon
Swim after them!

Mock Turtle
Turn a somersault in the sea!

Gryphon
Change lobsters again!

Mock Turtle
Back to land!
That's the first figure.

Gryphon
Back to land!

Mock Turtle
Back to land.


[They both sit down, suddenly quiet. The Mock Turtle glares at the Gryphon.]

Alice [Nonplussed but polite]
It must be very pretty.

Mock Turtle [Eagerly]
Would you like to see it?
We can do it without lobsters.

Gryphon [Tactfully]
You sing.
I've forgotten the words.

xvi. The Lobster Quadrille

[The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon approach one another. They bow. Hand-in-hand, they dance mincingly.]

Mock Turtle
"Will you walk a little faster,"
said a whiting to a snail,
"There's a porpoise close behind us,
and he's treading on my tail."
See how eagerly the lobsters
and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle -
won't you come and join the dance?
Will you, won't you, will you, won't you,
will you join the dance?
Will you, won't you, will you, won't you,
won't you join the dance?
[Giving stage directions]
Slowly and sadly.
"You can really have no notion
how delightful it will be
When they take us up and throw us,
with the lobsters, out to sea!"
But the snail replied, "Too far, too far!"
and gave a look askance -
Said he thanked the whiting kindly,
but he would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not,
would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not,
could not join the dance.
Dance!
I should like to hear her repeat
something now.

Alice
I can't remember things today.
I've tried to say "How doth the little busy bee"
and "Father William," but it all came out different.

Gryphon
Stand up and repeat 'Tis the voice of the sluggard.'

xvii. The Voice of the Lobster

Alice
'Tis the voice of the Lobster,'
I heard him declare.
'You have baked me too brown,
I must sugar my hair.'
As a duck with his eyelids, so he with his nose
Trims his belt and his buttons,
and turns out his toes.
When the sands are all dry, he is gay as a lark.
And will talk in contemptuous tones of the Shark:
But, when the tide rises and sharks are around,
His voice has a timid and tremulous sound.

Gryphon [Puzzled but tolerant]
That's different from what I used to say when I was a child.

Mock Turtle
[Disdainfully]
It sounds uncommon nonsense.

Gryphon [Encouragingly]
Go on with the next verse.
It begins "I passed by his garden."

Alice
I passed by his garden, and marked, with one eye,
How the Owl and the Panther were sharing a pie:
The Panther took pie-crust, and gravy, and meat,
While the Owl had the dish as its share of the treat.
When the pie was all finished, the Owl, as a boon,
Was kindly permitted to pocket the spoon:
While the Panther received knife and fork with a growl,
And concluded the banquet by....

Mock Turtle
By far the most confusing thing that I ever heard.

Gryphon [Sagely]
I think you'd better leave off.
Sing her "Turtle Soup," will you, old fellow?

xviii. The Mock Turtle's Lament

Mock Turtle [Lugubriously mellifluent]
Beautiful soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!
Beautiful soup! Beeyou-tiful soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!
Beautiful soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
pennyworth only of beautiful soup?
Beautiful soup! Beeyou-tiful soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!

Gryphon
Come on!
The trial's beginning!

Alice
What trial is that?

Mock Turtle [Blissfully unheeding]
Soup of the evening,
Beeeyou-tiful....

[The Gryphon providently claps his hand over the Mock Turtle's mouth to stop him.]

xix. Who Stole the Tarts?

[ All the Wonderland characters fill the stage, some as jurors, others as spectators, and officers of the court. The prisoner, the Knave of Hearts, is led onstage.]

White Rabbit [Self-importantly]
Silence in court!

King of Hearts
Read the accusation!

White Rabbit
"The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts,
All on a summer day:
The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts
And took them quite away!"

King of Hearts
Consider your verdict!

White Rabbit [With the nervous reproof of a courtier]
Not yet! Not yet!
There's a great deal to come before that!

King of Hearts
Call the first witness!

White Rabbit
First witness! First witness!

[The Mad Hatter takes the witness stand, tea-cup and plate in hand. The Queen of Hearts looks at him frowning "Bring me the list of singers at the last concert."]

Mad Hatter
I beg your pardon, your Majesty, for bringing these in;
but I hadn't quite finished my tea, when I was sent for.

King of Hearts
When did you begin?

Mad Hatter
Fourteenth of March, I think it was.

March Hare
Fifteenth.


Dormouse [Sleepily]
Sixteenth.

King of Hearts
Write that down. Take off your hat.

Mad Hatter
It isn't mine.

King of Hearts
Stolen! Stolen!

Mad Hatter
I'm a hatter. I've none of my own.

King of Hearts
Give your evidence, and don't be nervous,
or I'll have you executed on the spot.

Queen of Hearts [Having discovered the identity of the miscreant Hatter.]
Off with his head!

Mad Hatter
I'm a good man, your Majesty.
I hadn't begun my tea,
and the twinkling of the tea....

King of Hearts [Interrupting]
The twinkling of what?

Mad Hatter
It began with tea....

King of Hearts
Of course twinkling begins with a "T!"

Mad Hatter
Most things twinkled after that.
Only, the March Hare said....

March Hare [Indignantly]
I didn't!

Mad Hatter
You did!

March Hare
I deny it.

King of Hearts
He denies it!
Leave that part out.

Dodo
But what did the Dormouse say?

Mad Hatter
That I can't remember.

King of Hearts
You must remember, or I'll have you executed!

King of Hearts/ Queen of Hearts
Off with his head!

Mad Hatter
I'm a poor man, your Majesty.

King of Hearts
You're a very poor speaker.
If that's all you know, you may stand down.

Mad Hatter
I can't go no lower.
I'm standing on the floor.

King of Hearts
You may go!
Go!

Queen of Hearts
And just take his head off outside.

King of Hearts/Queen of Hearts
Outside! Outside!

King of Hearts
Call the next witness!

White Rabbit
Call the next witness!
Next witness!
Next witness!

[The Cook takes the stand.]

King of Hearts
Your evidence?

Cook
Shan't.

White Rabbit [Apologetically]
Your Majesty must cross-examine this witness.

King of Hearts
What are tarts made of?

Cook
Pepper mostly.

Dormouse
Treacle!

Queen of Hearts
Behead that Dormouse!
Off with his whiskers!

King of Hearts
Call the next witness!

Alice [To the Cheshire Cat.]
They haven't got much evidence yet.

Cheshire Cat
We're all mad here.
I'm mad! You're mad! Mad here!

White Rabbit
Call the next witness!
Alice!

[Surprised, Alice jumps up and runs to the witness stand.]

King of Hearts
What do you know about this business?

Alice
Nothing.

King of Hearts
Nothing whatever?

Alice
Nothing whatever?

King of Hearts
That's very important.

White Rabbit [Prompting apologetically]
Unimportant, your Majesty means, of course.

King of Hearts
Unimportant, of course.

Alice
It doesn't matter a bit.

King of Hearts [To Alice]
Silence!
[To the jury.]
Consider your verdict.

White Rabbit
Please, your Majesty,
there's more evidence yet to come.
A letter, written by the prisoner to...
...to somebody.

King of Hearts
It must have been, unless it was written to nobody,
which isn't usual, you know.

White Rabbit
It's a set of verses.

Mouse
Are they in the prisoner's handwriting?

White Rabbit
No. And there's no name signed at the end.

King of Hearts
If he didn't sign, that only makes the matter worse.
He must have meant some mischief,
or else he'd have signed his name like an honest man.

Jury of Characters/Court Visitors
Hear! Hear!

Queen of Hearts
That proves his guilt, of course.

King of Hearts/Queen of Hearts
So....

Tutti (except Alice, the White Rabbit, and the Knave of Hearts)
Off with his head!
Ha!

Alice
It doesn't prove anything of the sort.

King of Hearts
Read the verses.
Begin at the beginning,
and go on till you come to the end;
then stop.
Read the verses. Then stop.
[sharply] Stop!
[calmly] Read.

xx. A Letter from Somebody

White Rabbit
"They told me you had been to her,
And mentioned me to him;
She gave me a good character,
But said I could not swim.
He sent them word I had not gone
(We know it to be true);
If she should push the matter on,
What would become of you?
I gave her one, they gave him two,
You gave us three or more;
They all returned from him to you,
Though they were mine before.
If I or she should chance to be
Involved in this affair,
He trusts to you to set the free,
Exactly as we were.
My notion was that you had been
(Before she had this fit)
An obstacle that came between
Him, and ourselves, and it.
Don't let him know she liked them best,
For this must ever be
A secret, kept from all the rest,
Between yourself and me."

xxi. Such a Curious Dream

King of Hearts
The most important piece of evidence....

Alice
If any one of them can explain it,
I'll give him sixpence.
Explain it...

King of Hearts
If there's no meaning in it,
that saves a world of trouble.
Let the jury consider their verdict.

Queen of Hearts
No, no!
Sentence first -
verdict afterwards.

Alice
Stuff and nonsense!

Queen of Hearts
Hold your tongue!

Alice
I won't!
Stuff and nonsense.
Nonsense.

Queen of Hearts
Ah!
Off with her head!

Alice
Who cares for you?
You're nothing but a pack of cards.

[All the characters of the trial scream and run about, some attacking Alice. Blackout. Lights slowly go up on the riverbank scene. Alice is lying on the ground asleep. Lewis Carroll gently shakes her awake.]

Oh, I've had such a curious dream!

 

Adapted from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass and his additional letters, 
by Marilyn Barnett and Gary Bachlund

Copyright © 2001, 2013 by Gary Bachlund  All international rights reserved

 

 An Introductory Video

 

Foreword          Cast List and Orchestra Details