It's been a relaxing Christmas spent with family in Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. Midnight mass in the lovely village church at Appleford and then a couple of days in Devizes and Salisbury catching up with some reading. Marking has been temporarily suspended and left in a pile back in London.
I've spent a few days trying to make sense of Lewis Carroll in preparation for the Alice project with Level 2 Applied Theatre students begin work on in January. We're not sure yet which direction the work will take. We could just work from one of the several theatrical adaptation of Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass already published. We could adapt ourselves or we could look at doing something a little different which might take us into Carroll's biography and philosophy?
In many ways I'm most attracted to the latter option. Re reading the original stories is fun, but the dialogue feels, predictably stifled and difficult to work with. I think there's something exciting to discover in Carroll's love of photography. He was one of the early pioneers and their is something in his love for capturing, framing and fixing an image that seems to me vital to understanding the Alice stories and in particular the romantic fear of the death of innocence that he perceived children experience as they grow up. Through the Looking Glass itself is a story premised on optical reversal. From the initial idea, Carroll introduces young readers into conundrum after conundrum reversing time, merging space and defying logic. All of these are philosophically linked to the time frozen click of the photograph and to the desire to be ever young.
How do children build memory? or nostalgia? Do adults experience a child's childhood differently to the child themselves? To whom does it belong? These are all fascinating questions that go beyond the simple rites of passage stories of a girl falling down a hole or stepping through a mirror. Can a community play encompass all this?