The CSUN theater department produces exciting plays every year. Some productions you may love and some you may hate, but this is part of the theater-going experience.
The next show that CSUN will produce is a low-budget but highly fanciful production called “Alice Devised.”
This production began as a class project last fall. It was written by the students and the show’s director and resident professor, James DePaul. The writing of this production was highly inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “The Annotated Alice” and Bruno Bettleheim’s “The Uses of Enchantment” (the Sigmund Freud of children’s fairy tales).
The show has taken its form from a multitude of sources, and its rehearsal process is just as entropic and extensive. At a recent “Alice Devised” rehearsal, an amazingly controlled chaotic energy floated dramatically throughout the room. Each actor in his or her respective way was preparing for a non-stop and highly energetic night.
The actors seemed to begin as pieces of a 300-piece puzzle waiting to be vigorously placed into their rightful positions. The communal warm-up was highly collaborative, as voices were prepared, stretching commenced, and lines were run with fellow actors. Finally the individual actor-molecules came together to form a single cell, and began to collectively prepare the entirety of the cast for its rehearsal. The rehearsal consisted of musical numbers, quiet moments of human reflection and, at times, moments of wonderful utter chaos.
The cast is made up of half of the original class members and half of newly auditioned student actors. Beneficial to the production, the cast seems to accept and encourage all its members. When cast members were asked about the production process of “Alice Devised,” some actors felt highly nervous about the approaching opening, but were enjoying the overall process of the production. Other cast members stated that the rehearsal right now was painful, but were also willing to admit to it being a fairly normal emotion to have at this point.
The imminent fear of an opening is understandable as this is a production like few others. Alice Devised is not your ordinary play. This collaborative production is in continual development. While most of this show’s sculpting occurred last fall, with an approaching opening, it is hard to imagine that a show would still be in its writing process.
Many new shows continue development during their rehearsal process, but “Alice Devised” appears to take this to a whole new level. New scenes are delivered to the cast nightly (but they are received with pride). Student assistant director Amy Oliviera and director James DePaul write the play, direct the show and challenge the actors.
It is safe to say that this modern transformation of “Alice in Wonderland” will encourage its audience to re-examine the childhood fairytale while providing energetic entertainment.
“Alice Devised” will run from April 21 through April 30, and will be performed in the CSUN Theater Department’s Studio Theater as the year’s conclusion of the Studio Lab series.
Kristen Egermeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.