The Shaw Festival Alice In Wonderland Analysis

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The Shaw Festival and Alice in Wonderland

The Shaw Experience: An Analysis

The History of Shaw:

The Shaw Festival, created in 1962, is a defining attribute of the Canadian theatre scene. Founded by Torontonian lawyer Brian Doherty, a mere twelve years following the death of the festival’s name sake, George Bernard Shaw, the festival started as what Doherty referred to as “something (they) believe in” (Henkin). Snowballing faster, the originally small courthouse performance troupe grew into a non-profit organization with a theatre sitting just over 320 patrons. Today, Shaw seems to be continuing that growth spurt, being acknowledged by the Cambridge Guide to World Theatre as the “home to one of the finest acting ensembles in North America”
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However, as the show reached intermission, I found myself already dissatisfied with my experience, due predominantly to the script. As Shaw’s Alice in Wonderland was marketed to audiences as a musical, I felt disappointed in that its frankly unmemorable songs did not enhance the story or induce progress. As for Alice’s portrayal, the plot and characterization did not benefit Rosling’s portrayal. For instance, having the noticeable age-gap between actress and character made for an uncomfortable performance in that her attempts to sound child-like were verging on shrill, having an air of heightened stereotypicality. Thusly, Alice’s archetypal whimsy and caprice felt contrived and almost artificial. The Mad Hatter’s (Graeme Somerville) performance, in a similar fashion to Alice, seemed forced. Somerville’s delivery, although classically “mad”, was verging on robotic, perhaps due to the iconic nature of the role and the expected preconceptions that come along with it. Conversely, an unprecedented aspect of this performance was its projection work. The underwater scene specifically was immaculate as its use of movement coupled with the lighting design effectively created the look and atmosphere of moving water. However, there were times that the execution of the digital visual aspects could have been better carried out. For example, the projected character of the Cheshire Cat was wholly …show more content…
Following Lewis Carroll’s original release of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, many adaptations have been released on stage and screen alike, a phenomenon that CBS refers to as “the enduring appeal of "Alice in Wonderland" (Mason). While these works are not always identical to the original, they each have an aspect about them that sets them apart from each other. For example, Walt Disney’s 1951 adaptation of the classic story received much ridicule from intense fans of Carroll’s literature as they felt that Disney diluted the darker storyline to make it more family-friendly. Thusly, the term “Disnify” was coined to describe the mitigating of literature, film etc. in favour of commonly wholesome morality (Schütze). However, the Disney company received a second chance at Alice in 2010 with director, Tim Burton, going in a completely different direction. Instead of following Carroll’s and Disney’s Alice through the looking glass, Burton elected to extend the narrative, reintroducing a nineteen-year-old Alice to her Underworld. By taking a completely unprecedented turn away from the classic Alice story, Burton gave his production the freedom to take Carroll’s characters wherever he pleased. It is this relaxed approach to imitation that won over Burton’s audiences, making 2010’s Alice in Wonderland Burton’s highest grossing film of all time at $1.02 billion (Umland). When

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