Alice - Act II Libretto

Music and Texts of  GARY BACHLUND

Vocal Music Piano | Organ Chamber Music Orchestral | Articles and Commentary | Poems and StoriesMiscellany | FAQs


Alice - (2001-2013)

Through the Looking-Glass

Adapted from Lewis Carroll by Gary Bachlund & Marilyn Barnett

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



for seventeen soli and chamber orchestra



Through the Looking-Glass


i.   Can We Pretend

[Alice and Lewis Carroll are playing chess at a card table near a large, full-length mirror with a small shelf at the bottom. Alice holds her kitten, Dinah, in her lap.]


Lewis Carroll
[Moving his piece, almost ruefully]

Alice [Surprised]
Checkmate. Oh....
Oh, it was the fault of that nasty knight,
always wriggling around.
Wriggling and wriggling around.
I could have won if I'd two queens.
Can we pretend....

Lewis Carroll
Yes, if your pawn reaches the eighth square....
I'll set you a problem.
White pawn to play and win in....
In eleven moves.

[Carroll begins to set up the chess problem on the board.]

Very well.
Dinah could be the Red Queen.
[To Dinah.]
If you sat up and folded your arms,
you'd look exactly like her.
Do try! Pretend.

Lewis Carroll [Regarding Alice as he places the pieces]
Child of the pure, unclouded brow
and dreaming eyes of wonder!

Alice [To Dinah]
Let's pretend we're kings and queens.

Lewis Carroll
Though time be fleet,
and I and thou are half a life asunder,
thy loving smile will surely hail
the love-gift of a fairy tale.

Alice [To Dinah]
If you're not good,
I'll put you through into Looking-Glass house.
[holding Kitty up to the mirror]
How would you like that?

Lewis Carroll
And though the shadow of a sigh
may tremble through the story....

Alice [To Dinah ]
I'll tell you all my ideas.

Lewis Carroll
...for happy summer days gone by,
and vanished summer glory....

[The door opens; Dean Liddell enters. Lewis Carroll looks up; Alice curtseys.]

Dean Liddell [Spoken]
Dodgson, could I have a word with you.

Lewis Carroll
Certainly, Dean.
[To Alice]
Look over the problem till I return.

[Carroll exits with the Dean.]

Dinah, let's pretend the glass is soft like gauze,
so that we can get through.
Why, it's turning into a sort of a mist now!
Easy enough....
What fun it will be when they see me through the glass,
and can't get at me!
[Alice rises from her place and goes to the mirror, and then through it. The stage turns.]
Everything seems to be backwards.
[The "Jabberwocky" book is on Lewis Carroll's chair in the mirror.]
A book?
It's all in a language I don't know.
If I hold it up to the glass,
the words will all go the right way again.
[Alice holds the book up to the mirror so that she is facing the audience.]
The right way again....

ii. Jabberwocky

[She reads aloud. The story is enacted behind her.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The fruminous Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought -
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

iii. The Looking-Glass Garden

[Chess characters move unobserved behind her, as if in shadows, coming into view and disappearing.]

It seems very pretty,
but it's rather hard to understand.
Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas -
Only I don't know exactly what they are!
Let's have a look at the garden.
[Alice goes into the garden. In admiration.]
Oh! Oh!

I know you are a friend,
a dear friend, an old friend.
And you won't hurt me,
though I am an insect.

Alice [To the Gnat, anxiously, wondering whether it stings.]
An insect?
What kind of insect?

What, then you don't like all insects?

I'm rather afraid of them - at least the large kinds.
But I can tell you the names of some of them.

Of course, they answer to their names.

I never knew them to do it.

What's the use of their having names
if they won't answer to them?

No use to them, but it's useful to the people
that name them.
If not, why do things have names at all?

I can't say. Further on, in the wood down there,
they've got no names -
no names.
However, go on with your list of insects.

Well, there's the Horse-fly.

Here you'll see a Rocking-horse-fly.
[The Rocking-horse-fly appears, a moves about them in the garden, in either a staged or danced movement.]

What does it live on?

Sap and sawdust.

And then there's the Dragon-fly.

There you'll find a Snap-dragon-fly.
[The Snap-dragon-fly appears, and joins the Rocking-horse-fly.]
Made of plum-pudding,
its wings of holly-leaves,
its head a raisin burning in brandy.
It makes its nest in a Christmas-box.

And then there's the Butterfly.

You may observe a Bread-and-butter-fly.
[The Bread-and-butter-fly joins the others.]
Its wings, thin slices of bread-and-butter,
its body, crust, and its head, a lump of sugar.

And what does it live on?

Weak tea with cream.

Supposing it couldn't find any?

Then it would die, of course.

But that must happen very often.

It always happens.
[The Gnat sighs and quietly withdraws, with the other insects.]

The wood where things have no name....
O Tiger-Lily!
I wish you could talk!

We can talk,
when there's anybody worth talking to.

Alice [In an awed whisper]
Can all the flowers talk?

As well as you can, and a great deal louder.
It isn't manners for us to begin, you know.

I've been in many gardens before,
but none of the flowers could talk.

Put your hand down, and feel the ground.

It's very hard.

In most gardens, they make the beds too soft -
so that the flowers are always asleep.

I never thought of that.
Are there any more people in the garden besides me?

There's one other flower that can move about
like you, but she's more bushy. Redder.
The kind that has nine spikes. She's coming!

iv. It's Like a Chessboard

[The Red Queen enters, as the garden fades from sight.]

Red Queen
Where do you come from?
And where are you going?
Curtsey while you're thinking what to say.
It saves time.
Open your mouth a little wider when you speak.
And always say "your Majesty."

I only wanted to see the garden, your Majesty -

Red Queen
That's right.

...and I thought I'd try to find my way
to the top of the hill.
I declare!
It's like a chess-board!
How I wish I could play.
I wouldn't mind being a Pawn, although [shyly]
I should like to be a Queen, best!

Red Queen
You can be the White Queen's Pawn;
You're in the second square to begin with;
when you get to the eighth square,
you'll be a Queen.
[The Red Queen takes Alice by the hand, and they begin to run in a circle under a tree.]
Faster, faster!

Are we nearly there?

Red Queen
Nearly there? We passed it ten minutes ago!
[They stop suddenly.]
You may rest a little now.

Alice [Panting a bit]
Why, I do believe we've been
under this tree the whole time.

Red Queen
Of course.

Of course. Ha!
Well, in our country, you'd generally get to
somewhere else if you ran very fast
as we've been doing.

Red Queen
Here it takes all the running you can do
to keep in the same place.
If you want to get somewhere else,
you must run at least twice as fast as that.

I am so hot and thirsty.

Red Queen
I know what you'd like!
Have a biscuit?
While you're refreshing yourself,
I'll give you your directions.
A pawn goes two squares in its first move.
You'll find yourself in the Fourth Square in no time.
That belongs to Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
The fifth is mostly water.
Thirst quenched,
or would you like another biscuit?

Alice [Having hidden the dry biscuit in her pocket]
No, thank you.

Red Queen
The sixth belongs to Humpty-Dumpty.
The seventh is forest, but
one of the Knights will show you the way.
In the eighth square, we shall Queens together!
But you make no remark?

I - I didn't know I had to make one.

Red Queen
You should have said
"It's extremely kind of you to tell me all this;"
However, we'll suppose it said.
[Alice, having no ready answer, gets up, curtseys, and sits back down.]
Speak French when you can't think of
the English for a thing.
Turn your toes out as you walk.
And remember who you are!

[Red Queen exits.]

v. Tweedledum and Tweedledee

[The No-Name woods become darker, more menacing. Tweedledum and Tweedledee step out from behind a tree.]

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Deedum deedum dum, etc.

If you think we're wax-works...

... you ought to pay, you know.

Wax-works weren't made to be looked at for nothing.

No how!

Contrariwise, if you think we're alive,
you ought to speak.

Speak. Speak.

I'm very sorry.

Deedum deedum dum, etc.

I know what you're thinking about,
but it isn't so, nohow.

Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be;
and if it were so, it would be;
but as it isn't, it ain't.

That's logic.



I was thinking....
Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
Just then flew down a monstrous crow
As big as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.

You've begun wrong!
The first thing in a visit is
to say "How d'ye do?"

How d'ye do?

...and shake hands.

[They begin to go round in a dance.]

Shake hands.

How d'ye do?

Four times round is enough for one dance.

How d'ye do?

I hope you're not much tired.

How d'ye do?



And thank you very much for asking.

So much obliged!
You like poetry?

Yes. Pretty well - some poetry.
Which road leads out of the wood?

What shall I repeat to her?

"The Walrus and the Carpenter" is the longest.

"The Walrus and the Carpenter."

If it's very long,
would you please tell me first which road -

"The Walrus and the Carpenter...."

vi. The Walrus and the Carpenter

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might;
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright -
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand.
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "It would be grand."

"So grand!"
"If seven maids with seven mops..."


"...swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach;
We cannot do with more than four
To give a hand to each."

On the beach!
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently quite low.
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

"The time has come,"

...the Walrus said...

" talk of many things:"

"of shoes - and ships -"

"...and sealing wax -"

"...of cabbages -"

"...and kings -"

"...and why the sea is boiling hot -"

"...and whether pigs have..."

"... wings."

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,

"Wait! Wait!"

"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath..."

"...and all of us are fat."

"No hurry," said the Carpenter.

They thanked him much for that.

"A loaf of bread..."

...the Walrus said...

" what we chiefly need;
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed -"


"Now, if you're ready, Oysters dear..."


"...we can begin to feed."


"It seems a shame..."

...the Walrus said,

" play them such a trick."

"After we've brought them out so far..."

"...and made them trot so quick!"

The Carpenter said nothing but...

"The butter's spread too thick!"

"I weep for them..."

...the Walrus said...

"I deeply sympathize."

With sobs and tears he sorted out...

...those of the largest size...

...holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.
"O Oysters..."

...said the Carpenter...

"'ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?"

But answer came there none -
And this was scarcely odd...

...because they'd eaten every one.
They'd eaten every one!

vii. Battle for a Rattle

[The noise of snoring is heard.]

Any lions or tigers around here?

It's only the Red King snoring.

Isn't he a lovely sight?

And what do you think he's dreaming about?
About you!

If he left off dreaming...

Dreaming, dreaming.....

If he left off dreaming....

....where do you think you'd be?


You're only a sort of thing in his dream.

If I'm only a sort of thing in his dream, what are you?

Ditto! Ditto!

Ditto! Ditto!

You know very well you're not real!

Not real!

I am real! You selfish things!

Do you see that?

It's only a rattle.
Quite old and broken.

It's spoilt, of course.
My nice new rattle.
Of course, you agree to have a battle.

A battle? Tweedledum and Tweedledee agreed....

She must help us to dress up.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee agreed....

[As Alice helps them to "arm" for battle....]

Dum deedum,
Deedledee dumdee dum,
Deedledee dum, dee deedum dum.

Do I look very pale?
I'm very brave, generally.
Only today I happen to have a headache.

And I've a toothache.
I'm far worse than you!
Far worse.

Let's fight until six, and then have dinner.


And all about a rattle.

[They battle half-heartedly, feigning great heroism.]

It's getting dark as it can.

And darker.

It's the crow.
The crow!

[They scream and run off. The White Queen runs on, caught up in the wind storm. She tumbles into Alice.]

viii. The White Queen's Visit

Alice [Proffering the shawl, which had blown over her head]
I'm very glad I happened to be in the way.

White Queen [Indistinctly, while fumbling with the shawl]

[Curtseying] Am I addressing the White Queen?

White Queen
Well, yes, if you call that a-dressing.
I've been a-dressing myself the last two hours!
[Fingering the shawl.]
I don't know what's the matter with it.
I've pinned it here, and I've pinned it there,
and pinned it here and pinned it there…

Alice [Gently]
You pin it all on one side.
[Draping the shawl around evenly around the queen.]
You look better now!

[White Queen regards a bandaged finger.]

White Queen [Suddenly begins to scream]
Oh, oh, oh!
My finger's bleeding! Ah, oh, ah!

Alice [Startled]
Have you pricked your finger?

White Queen
Not yet, but I will when I fasten my shawl again!

Alice [Puzzled]
I'm confused....

White Queen [Nodding kindly]
Living backwards always makes one a little giddy at first -

Alice [Astonished]
Living backwards!

White Queen
- but there's one great advantage: one's memory works both ways.
[The brooch pinning her shawl has become undone, she grabs wildly at it. Alice gasps in warning, but too late: the Queen has pricked her finger.]
You see?
[The shawl blows away in the strong wind.]
There goes the shawl again!
[Leaping after it across a little brook.]

Alice [Calling after her]
I hope your finger is better!

White Queen
Much better, thank you!
[Becoming more like a bleat]
Much be-e-tter! Be-e-e-tter!

[Alice also jumps across the little brook into the Fifth Square, which is indeed mostly water, and finds a rowboat among the rushes.]

Scented rushes - and what beauties!
The prettiest always seem just out of reach!
[Surprised, a little sad]
They…they've faded already..

[The turning of the scene reveals itself to be a watery shop. The White Queen, transformed into a Sheep, is knitting at the counter at the other side of the shop.]

White Queen (as a Sheep)
What is it you want to buy?

I don't quite know yet.
I should like to look around me first.

White Queen (as a Sheep)
You can look in front of you, and on both sides,
but you can't look all around you -
unless you've got eyes at the back of your head.
Now what do you want to buy?

I beg your pardon.

White Queen (as a Sheep)
Don't beg!
What do you want to buy?

I should like to buy an egg.

White Queen (as a Sheep)
An e-e-eg?

An egg.
Or an e-e-egg. An egg.

White Queen (as a Sheep)
Fivepence for one, twopence for two.
Must eat them both, if you buy two.

Then I'll have one.

White Queen (as a Sheep) [Indicating a high shelf on which an egg sits.]
You must get it yourself.
I never put things into people's hands.
Ne-e-ver, ne-e-e-ver!


xi. Humpty Dumpty

[As she leaves the scene, Humpty Dumpty is revealed, sitting on a wall.]

How exactly like an egg he is!

Humpty Dumpty
It's very provoking to be called an egg!
Some people have no more sense than a baby!

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses and all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty in his place again.

Humpty Dumpty
Don't stand around chattering to yourself.
Tell me your name and your business.


Humpty Dumpty
It's a stupid name enough!
What does it mean?

Must a name mean something?

Humpty Dumpty
Of course it must.
My name means the shape I am.
With a name like yours, you might be any shape.

Alice [Not wishing to begin an argument.]
Don't you think you'd be safer down on the ground?

Humpty Dumpty
Of course I don't think so!
If ever I did fall,
the King has promised....

To send all his horses and all his men!

Humpty Dumpty
You've been listening at doors again!

It's in a book.

Humpty Dumpty [Mollified]
Ah, well, in a book, that's what you
call a History of England.
Take a good look at me. I'm one that's spoken to a King,
and to show you I'm not proud,
you may shake hands with me.
[Almost falling off the wall in doing so.]
Yes, all his horses and all his men.
They'd pick me up again, in a minute, they would!

What a beautiful belt.....
Cravat, I should have said.
No, belt, I mean.
I beg your pardon.

Humpty Dumpty
A most provoking thing,
when a person doesn't know a cravat from a belt.
It's a cravat.
A present from the White King and Queen.
They gave it me - for an un-birthday present.

I beg your pardon?

Humpty Dumpty
I'm not offended.
A present given when it isn't your birthday,
How many days are there in a year?

Three hundred and sixty-five.

Humpty Dumpty
And how many birthdays have you?


Humpty Dumpty
Take one from three hundred and sixty-five,
what remains?

Three hundred and sixty-four.

Humpty Dumpty [Doubtfully]
I'd rather see it done on paper.
[Alice, smiling, takes out her memorandum book and writes it out for him.]
That seems to be done right -

You're holding it upside down!

Humpty Dumpty
I thought it looked a little queer.
Seems to be done right -
That shows there are three hundred and sixty -
[Pause to refer to book]
- four days
when you might get un-birthday presents,
and only one for birthday presents.
There's glory for you!

I don't know what you mean by 'glory.'

Humpty Dumpty
I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"

But "glory" doesn't mean that.

Humpty Dumpty
When I use a word, it means what I choose it to mean -
neither more nor less.

The question is,
whether you can make words mean so many different things.

Humpty Dumpty
The question is,
which is to be the master - that's all.
They've a temper, some of them.
Particularly verbs: they're the proudest.
Adjectives, you can do anything with,
but not with verbs.
However, I can manage the whole lot of them.
Inpenetrability! That's what I say!

You seem very clever at explaining words, Sir.
Would you tell me the meaning of the poem called

Humpty Dumpty
Let's hear it.

x. "Jabberwocky" Explained

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Humpty Dumpty
That's enough to begin with.
There are plenty of hard words in there.
"Brillig" means "four o'clock in the afternoon."


[Alice tries taking notes on Humpty Dumpty's lesson.]

Humpty Dumpty
"Slithy" means "lithe and slimy."


Humpty Dumpty
It's like a portmanteau.
There are two meanings packed into one word.


Humpty Dumpty
"Toves'" are something like badgers...


Humpty Dumpty

...something like lizards,
something like corkscrews.


Humpty Dumpty
They make their nests under sun-dials;
they live on cheese.


Humpty Dumpty
To "gyre" is to go round and round like a gyroscope.
To "gimble" is to make holes like a gimlet.
"Mimsy" is "flimsy and miserable,"
and a "borogove...."


Humpty Dumpty a thin shabby-looking bird,
something like a live mop.

And "mome rath?"

Humpty Dumpty
A "rath" is a sort of green pig,
but "mome" I'm not certain about.

And what does "outgrabe" mean?

Humpty Dumpty
To "outgrabe?"
"Outgribing" is something between
bellowing and whistling,
with a kind of sneeze in the middle.
Who's been repeating all that hard stuff to you.

I read it in a book.
But I had some poetry repeated to me
much easier than that.

Humpty Dumpty
I can repeat poetry as well as other folk,
if it comes to that.

Alice [Hoping to keep him from beginning]
It needn't come to that.

Humpty Dumpty
It comes to that.

[She sits down, resignedly.]

xi. Humpty Dumpty's Song

For your entertainment…
In winter, when the fields are white,
I sing this song for your delight -
In spring, when woods are getting green,
I'll try to tell you what I mean.
For your entertainment....
In summer, when the days are long,
Perhaps you'll understand the song;
In autumn, when the leaves are brown,
Take pen and ink and write it down.
For your entertainment....

I will if I can remember it.

Humpty Dumpty
You needn't go on making remarks like that;
they are not sensible, and they put me out.
I sent a message to the fish:
I told them "This is what I wish."
The little fishes of the sea,
They sent an answer back to me.
For your entertainment....
The little fishes' answer was
"We cannot do it, Sir, because -"

I'm afraid I don't quite understand.

Humpty Dumpty [Clearly annoyed]
It gets easier further on.
I sent to them again to say
"It will be better to obey."
The fishes answered, with a grin,
(For your entertainment...)
"Why, what a temper you are in!"
"My! What a temper you are in
I told them once, I told them twice:
They would not listen to advice.
Not once, not twice.
I took a kettle large and new,
Fit for the deed I had to do.
My heart went hop, my heart went thump:
I filled the kettle at the pump.
Then someone came to me and said
"The little fishes are in bed."
I said to him, I said it plain,
"Then you must wake them up again."
"Then you must wake them up again."
I said it very loud and clear:
I went and shouted in his ear.
But he was very stiff and proud:
He said, "You needn't shout so loud."
And he was very proud and stiff:
He said, "I'd go and wake them, if -"
I took a corkscrew from the shelf:
I went to wake them up myself.
(For your entertainment....)
And when I'd found the door was locked,
I pulled and pushed and kicked and knocked.
And when I found the door was shut,
I tried to turn the handle, but -
I tried to turn the handle, but-

Is that all?

Humpty Dumpty
That's all.

[He falls backwards from the top of the wall.]

Well, goodbye, then.

xii. The Lion and the Unicorn

[A loud noise is heard from the forest, and soldiers come running through, falling over themselves. As the stage clears, the White King enters/is discovered, writing in his
memorandum book.]

White King
I've sent them all!
Four thousand two hundred and seven!
I couldn't send all the horses;
two are wanted in the game.
[To Alice.]
Just look along the road, my dear,
and tell me if you can see either of them.

I see nobody on the road.

White King
Such eyes!
To be able to see Nobody!
And at that distance too!

I beg your pardon.

White King
It isn't respectable to beg.
[A rabbit messenger arrives.]
I feel faint - give me a ham sandwich!

Messenger [Looking in the bag hanging around his neck]
There's nothing but hay left now.

White King
Hay, then.
There's nothing like eating hay,
when you're faint.

I should think throwing cold water over you
would be better.

White King
I didn't say there was nothing better.
I said there was nothing like it.
Who did you pass on the road?


White King
Quite right, this young lady saw him too.
Tell us what's happened in the town.

I'll whisper it.
They're at it again!


The Lion and the Unicorn, of course.

White King
Fighting for the crown?
The best of the joke is,
it's my crown all the while!

Messenger [As the song is sung, the Lion and Unicorn enter, fighting.]
The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown:
The Lion beat the Unicorn all round the town.
Some gave them white bread, some gave them brown:
Some gave them plum-cake and
drummed them out of town.

Messenger/White King
The Lion and the Unicorn!

White King
It's my crown all the while!

Does the one that wins get the crown?

White King
Dear me, no!
What an idea!
How are they getting on?

Each of them has been down eighty-seven times.

White King
Ten minutes allowed for refreshments.

[The Lion and Unicorn stop fighting, as the Messenger hands around a tray of white and brown bread. The White Queen goes by in the background.]

Look! There's the White Queen!
How fast those Queens can run!

Unicorn [Noticing Alice]
What is this?

Are you animal - or vegetable - or mineral?

White King
It's a child!

I always thought they were fabulous monsters!

I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters, too.

If you'll believe in me,
I'll believe in you.

It's a bargain, if you like.

Then hand round the plum-cake, Monster!

[Alice takes the plum-cake from the Messenger and begins to cut it up.]

Unicorn [Looking mischievously at the King seated between them.]
What a fight we might have for the crown, now!

I should win easy.

I'm not so sure of that!

Why, I beat you all round the town, you chicken!
What a time the Monster is having,
cutting up that cake!

I cut several slices already but they always
join on again.

You don't know how to handle a Looking-Glass cake.
Hand it round first and cut it afterwards.
[Alice obediently does so, and the cake divides itself, and the Lion, Unicorn and White King help themselves.]
Now cut it up.

I say, this isn't fair!
The monster has given the Lion
twice as much as me!

She's kept none for herself, anyhow.
Do you like plum-cake, Monster?

[Drumming is heard, becoming quickly louder and louder, and the Looking-Glass characters exit the stage, leaving Alice alone.]

xiii. Ahoy! Ahoy! Check!

[The Red Knight enters, followed by the White Knight.]

Red Knight
Ahoy! Ahoy! Check!
You're my prisoner!

White Knight
Ahoy! Ahoy! Check!

Red Knight
She's my prisoner, you know!

White Knight
Yes, but then I came and rescued her.

Red Knight
Well, we must fight for her, then.

White Knight
You will observe the Rules of Battle, of course?

Red Knight
I always do.
Ahoy! Ahoy! Check!

White Knight
It was a glorious victory, wasn't it?

Alice [Doubtfully]
I don't know.
I don't want to be anyone's prisoner.
I want to be a Queen.

White Knight
So you will, when you've crossed the next brook.
I'll see you safe to the end of the wood.
[They walk together for a while.]
You are sad, let me sing you a song to comfort you.

Alice [Apprehensively]
Is it very long?

White Knight
It's very, very beautiful.
Everybody that hears me sing it -
either it brings tears into their eyes, or else....

Or else what?

White Knight
Or else it doesn't.
The tune's my own invention.
Da-de-da-d'-da-dee-da da-de-da....

xiv. A'Sitting on a Gate

I'll tell thee everything I can:
There's little to relate.
I saw an aged aged man,
A-sitting on a gate.
"Who are you, aged man?
And how is it you live?"
His answer trickled through my head
Like water through a sieve.
"I look for butterflies," he said,
"That sleep among the wheat;
I make them into mutton-pies,
And sell them in the street.
I sell them unto men," he said,
"Who sail on stormy seas;
And that's the way I get my bread -
A trifle, if you please."
But I was thinking of a plan
To dye one's whiskers green,
And always use so large a fan
That they could not be seen.
So, having no reply to give
To what the old man said,
I cried, "Come, tell me how you live!"
And thumped him on his head.
"I hunt for haddocks' eyes," he said,
"Among the heather bright,
And work them into waist-coat buttons
In the silent night.
And these I do not sell for gold
Or coin of silvery shine,
But for a copper halfpenny,
And that will purchase nine.
I sometimes dig for buttered rolls,
Or set limed twigs for crabs;
I sometimes search the grassy knolls
For wheels of Hansom-cabs.
And that's the way" (he gave a wink)
"By which I get my wealth -
And very gladly will I drink
Your Honour's noble health."
And now, if e'er by chance I put
My fingers into glue,
Or madly squeeze a right-hand foot
Into a left-hand shoe,
I weep, for it reminds me so
Of that old man I used to know -
That old man...
Whose look was mild, whose speech was slow,
Whose hair was whiter than the snow,
Whose face was very like a crow,
With eyes, like cinders, all aglow,
Who seemed distracted with his woe,
And muttered mumblingly and low,
That summer evening long ago,
A-sitting on a gate.

xv. The Eighth Square, At Last!

You've only a few yards to go,
and then you'll be a Queen.
But you'll stay and see me off first?
Wait and wave your handkerchief
when I get to that turn in the road!
I think it'll encourage me, you see.

Of course, I'll wait.
[The White Knight slowly exits, and is gone. Alice crosses the last brook, spies a golden crown, and tries it on.]
The eighth square at last!
Well, this is grand!
I never expected I should be a Queen so soon!
[She practices walking with the crown on her head, but stiffly, as it tends to fall off. Unseen by her, the Red and White Queens come on.]
If I really am a Queen,
I shall be able to manage it in time.

Red Queen
Speak when you're spoken to.

Alice [Startled]
If everyone obeyed that rule,
nobody would ever say anything.

White Queen/Red Queen
Ridiculous! Ridiculous!

Red Queen
You can't be a Queen until you've passed....

White Queen/Red Queen
....the proper examination.

White Queen
Can you do Addition?
What's one and one and one and one and one
and one and one and one and one and one?

I lost count.

Red Queen
She can't do Addition.
Subtraction? Take nine from eight.

Nine from eight? I can't.

White Queen
She can't do Substraction.
Division? Divide a loaf by a knife?

Red Queen
Try another!
Take a bone from a dog; what remains?

Alice [To the White Queen, ignoring the question.]
Can you do sums?

White Queen
I can do Addition, if you give me time --
but I can't do Substraction under any circumstances.

Red Queen
Of course, you know your A-B-C?
Can you answer useful questions?

White Queen/Red Queen
How is bread made?

You take some flour....

White Queen
Where do you pick the flower?
In a garden or in the hedges?

It isn't picked at all.
It's ground.

White Queen
How many acres of ground?

Red Queen
Fan her head!
She'll be feverish after so much thinking.
[During the following "inquisition," the White Queen fans determinedly until Alice's hair is completely windblown.]
Do you know languages?
What's the French for fiddle-de-dee?

If you tell me what language 'fiddle-de-dee' is,
I'll tell you the French for it.

Red Queen
Queens never make bargains!

White Queen
What's the cause of lightning?
Which reminds me,
we had such a thunderstorm last Tuesday
I mean, one of the last set of Tuesdays, you know,
you can't think....

Red Queen
She never could, you know.

White Queen
And part of the roof came off,
and ever so much thunder got in --
and it went rolling round the room in great lumps --
till I was so frightened,
I couldn't remember my own name!

xvi. Hush-a-by Lady

Red Queen [To Alice, suddenly accepting her as a Queen. She gestures to the White Queen.]
Your Majesty must excuse her.
She means well, but she can't help saying
foolish things as a general rule.
It's amazing how good-tempered she is.
Pat her on her head, and see how pleased she'll be.

White Queen
I am so sleepy.

[The White Queen puts her head on Alice's lap.]

Red Queen
She's tired, poor thing.
Sing her a soothing lullaby.

I don't know any soothing lullabies.

Red Queen
I must do it myself, then.
Hush-a-by lady, in Alice's lap!
Till the feast's ready, we've time for a nap.
When the feast's over, we'll go to the ball -
Red Queen, and White Queen, and Alice, and all!
And now you know the words.
Just sing it through to me.
I'm getting sleepy too.

[The Red Queen puts her head in Alice's lap and sleeps.]

Do wake up, you heavy things!

[They snore more distinctly than before. Gently, Alice lays the Queens quietly down against the bushes, and tip-toes away.]

xvii. Queen Alice

[Alice then finds a doorway, over which it is written "QUEEN ALICE." Alice knocks.]

No admittance till the week after next!
[Alice knocks again.]
What is it now? What?

I've a scepter in my hand,
I've a crown on my head.
Where's the servant whose business it is
to answer the door?

To answer the door?
What's it been asking?

Asking? Nothing!
I've been knocking at it.

Knocking at it?
I shouldn't do that.
You let it alone, and it'll let you alone.

[The door is thrown open, and all the Looking-Glass creatures are assembled for a party.]

To the Looking-Glass creatures
it was Alice that said,
"I've a scepter in my hand,
I've a crown on my head.
Let the Looking-Glass creatures, whatever they be,
Come and dine with the Red Queen,
the White Queen...

...and me! Me! Me!

Then fill up the glasses as quick as you can,
And sprinkle the table with buttons and bran;
Put cats in the coffee, and mice in the tea -
And welcome Queen Alice with thirty-times-three!

"O Looking-Glass creatures," quoth Alice, "draw near!
'Tis an honour to see me, a favour to hear:
'Tis a privilege high to have dinner and tea
Along with the Red Queen,
the White Queen...

...and me! Me! Me!

Then fill up the glasses with treacle and ink,
Or anything else that is pleasant to drink:
Mix sand with the cider, and wool with the wine -
And welcome Queen Alice with ninety-times-nine!
Thirty-times-three and ninety-times-nine!

xviii. A Looking-Glass Banquet

I'm glad they've come
without waiting to be asked.
I should never have known
who were the right people to invite.

Red Queen
You've missed the soup and fish!
Put on the joint!
[The Leg of Mutton is served on a tray, set before Alice though she doesn't know how to carve.]
You look a little shy:
Let me introduce you to that leg of mutton.
Alice - Mutton:
Mutton - Alice.

[Alice takes up a large knife, and addresses the Red Queen.]

May I give you a slice?

Red Queen
Certainly not!
It isn't etiquette to cut anyone you've been
introduced to!
Remove the joint!

I won't be introduced to the pudding,
or we shall get no dinner at all.
May I give you some?

Red Queen
Pudding - Alice:
Alice - Pudding.
Remove the pudding!

Bring back the pudding!

[Alice tries to cut a slice, and is interrupted by the Pudding.]

What impertinence!
I wonder how you'd like it,
if I were to cut a slice out of you, you creature!

Red Queen
Make a remark.
It's ridiculous to leave all the conversation
to the pudding!
Remove the pudding!

Do you know,
I've had such a quantity of poetry repeated to me.
Every poem was about fishes in some way.

Red Queen
As to fishes,
her White Majesty knows a lovely riddle -
all in poetry - all about fishes.
Shall she repeat it?

It needn't come to that.

xix. The Fish Riddle

White Queen
It would be such a treat!
May I?
First, the fish must be caught.
That is easy: a baby, I think,
could have caught it.
Next, the fish must bought.
That is easy: a penny, I think,
would have bought it.
Now cook me the fish!
That is easy, and will not take more than a minute.
Let it lie in a dish!
That is easy, because it is already in it.
Bring it here! Let me sup!
It is easy to set such a dish on the table.
Take the dish-cover up!
Ah, that is so hard that I fear I'm unable!
For it holds like glue -
Holds the lid to the dish, while it lies in the middle:
Which is easiest to do?
Un-dish-cover the fish, or dishcover the riddle?

Red Queen
Take a minute to think about it, and then guess.

xx. Oh, Such a Dream

Meanwhile, we'll drink to your health -
Queen Alice's health!

Then fill up the glasses as quick as you can
and sprinkle the table with buttons and bran.
[The Looking-Glass creatures do exactly as the lyric indicates, filling glasses, sprinkling the table with buttons and bran, putting cats in the coffee and mice in the tea.... As
Alice will say, "Just like pigs in a trough."]

Put cats in the coffee and mice in the tea
and drink to Queen Alice with thirty times three!
Ninety times nine and thirty times three!

Alice [Aside]
Just like pigs in a trough!

Red Queen
You ought to return thanks in a neat speech.

I rise to return thanks.

She really did rise!
Dreadful confusion!
Take care of yourself!
Take care! Not a moment to lose!
Something's going to happen!

[Throwing things all about, the Looking-Glass creatures scream and shout, and run for any available exit. The Looking-Glass world disappears, until only Alice remains
onstage, alone in a circle of light. Lewis Carroll re-enters the room with Mrs. Liddell.]

Alice [To Carroll, eagerly]
Oh, such a dream!

Mrs. Liddell [spoken]
Time for bed, Alice. Say good-bye to Mr. Dodgson.

Alice [To Carroll]
[Going to her mother]
I knew you meant good-night".

Mrs. Liddell [Dryly and pointedly.]
Of course. Good…night, Mr. Carroll.

Lewis Carroll
Good-night, Mrs. Liddell. Good-night, Alice.

[Lewis Carroll watches them leave the room.]

Lewis Carroll
A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July-
Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear --
Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream-
Lingering in the golden gleam-
Life, what is it but a dream?

[Carroll exits quickly, and the room remains empty a moment. Then Alice rushes in to find the golden crown and take it with her.]


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