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Alice In Wonderland (Act I) [Pittsburgh]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0165
Run Time
0h 38m 0s
"Alice in Wonderland" is a ballet in 2 acts, based on Lewis Carroll's 1865 children's book. Originally choreographed by Michael Charnley (London, 1953) to music by Joseph Horovitz. Ruth Page's version was initially called "Alice in the Garden," (not yet a full ballet) with music by Isaac Van Grove. It was premiered in 1970 at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts. The piece was later realized as a full-length ballet: "Alice in Wonderland," also sometimes referred to as "Alice through the Looking-glass." Music for this extended version was pieced together from many composers.  Its Chicago premiere was in April 1977 at the Arie Crown Theatre in the new McCormick Place.

In this undated Pittsburgh version of Act I, all dancers are in full costume and women are all en pointe. The technique level of the dancers varies; the "flowers" appear to be students. The performance includes a few speech interludes, such as Alice's famous wish that the flowers could talk and their response that they can. The film itself employs some fairly skilled camera techniques, including close-ups and rapid cuts.
The film begins with the introduction of the White Rabbit, who is always late. He soon discovers Alice, who is then taunted with a baby by a maid and nurse. When the maid finally steals the baby from Alice once and for all, a clown/jester type arrives to lighten the mood. Alice is excited, especially when the White Rabbit joins him.
In the next segment, playing cards are gardening with flowers. After much chaos and dragging around of the flowers by the cards, the flowers seem to lose their liveliness. Attempts by the cards, Alice, and the Rabbit to revive them fail; only when they are placed upright again do they come to life. Alice wishes they could talk, only to discover that they can. A very skilled pas de deux by what might be trees or weeds follows, interspersed with shots of what seems to be modern abstract art.
Next, the intimidating Queen of Hearts appears; she is joined by a troupe of animals (lobsters, turtles, snails, and occasionally others) who dance on command. (At this juncture, the camera begins to cut sometimes to an unsettlingly large cheshire cat's face, with a blinking light suggesting a winking eye.) Then Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee dance as well, followed by Humpty Dumpty, who inevitably falls off his wall. After they all mourn this tragedy, the Queen then orders Alice to dance. After a bit of protestation, she acquiesces; she even gives a brief encore dance afterwards. The final guest is the Caterpillar, who smokes a great deal of hookah and does little else. He is followed by another group dance including the Queen and her animal subjects. But then a storm engulfs all, bringing the flowers (who have returned) to the ground once more. When they revive themselves and dance a bit, they transition into the finale. All major characters reappear during the finale, and Alice is ultimately lifted triumphantly into the air by the man in the drab clothes. Then the camera goes black.
00:05-00:18 - ELS of White Rabbit solo. Hopping, he discovers Alice; camera follows him off stage left 00:20-00:46 - Pan left to Alice; zoom in to MLS and back out to ELS several times as she falls down 00:49 - White Rabbit cries out that he's late, runs by from stage left behind Alice, who confusedly stands up 01:00 - LS of old maid (?) character, apparently played by a male dancer, appearing from stage left with a large spoon; camera pans to follow her antagonizing Alice 01:14 - Pan left to discover a nurse, also danced by a man, entering in a MLS from stage right with a crying baby 01:20 - Zoom out to LS; nurse begins solo to song with lyrics; camera follows her as Alice and the maid watch 01:38 - The nurse sneezes and tosses the baby; camera zooms slightly as Alice catches it; zooms back out to LS as the nurse continues to antagonize Alice 01:47 - Alice sneezes 01:59 - The nurse takes back the baby and sneezes a couple more times 02:12 - The two men (as female characters) dance a pas de deux as Alice watches 02:20 - They antagonize her together and the dance becomes a pas de trois as Alice seizes the baby back 02:39 - Zoom to MLS, then MS of the 3 cradling the baby 02:43 - CU of nurse gazing at baby 02:46 - MLS of nurse snatching baby back 02:53 - Tight LS: The pas de trois begins again, with the maid and nurse tossing the baby back and forth to keep it away from Alice 03:01 - Zoom out to ELS of all 3 03:06 - Several more sneezes and a toss to Alice 03:20 - Zoom in to tight LS od all 3 in a cluster 03:30 - Zoom out as Alice runs off stage left and maid follows; the nurse winds up doing a pirouette solo 03:39 - Pan right to Alice and maid at stage left; Alice yelps as maid steals back baby and runs off stage right with nurse 03:43 - MS to MCU of Alice sad; zoom out to ELS as a clownish figure enters from stage left and juggles his 3 hats to entertain Alice 04:15 - Enter White Rabbit from stage right w/ more hats 04:16 - Cut to MCU of Alice's excitement 04:18 - Cut to ELS of the 2 (jester & Rabbit) doing more hat tricks 04:32 - White Rabbit exits stage left via can-can front attitudes as entertainer continues 04:39 - Cut to MCU of Alice being impressed 04:46 - Cut to MCU of White Rabbit running 04:50 - Cut back to juggler in ELS, with Alice watching and trying to catch hats 05:05 - Reenter Rabbit from stage left w/ hats; all 3 exit stage right 05:11 - Blackout 05:13 - Cut to 2 MCUs of a dancer dressed as a flower 05:14 - Cut to ELS: Enter a clubs-adorned man (as a playing card) from stage right, carrying one flower-woman on his shoulder and dragging another 05:27 - LS: The card puts the flowers on the ground; pan right as he scurries off stage to reveal a diamonds-card doing the same on stage left 05:34 - A hearts-adorned card enters from stage left 05:42 - A clubs-card enters from stage left; pan left to follow him across stage where he places/plants a flower 05:57 - Pan right to downstage center, where 2 cards are lined up on the outer flanks of 2 flowers 06:05 - The flowers sway and are dragged to upstage corners by the cards 06:06 - Enter Alice and White Rabbit from stage right; they scurry across the stage and attempt to revive the flowers on the ground at stage left 06:17 - White Rabbit drags Alice back stage right; they try to revive flowers there and then run off stage left as the camera follows them 06:26 - 2 remaining cards keep trying to revive flowers 06:38 - Camera pans left to show 2 more cards also trying 06:49 - Cards begin to dance; camera pans slightly right to get them in frame; little bugs, played by children, occasionally enter screen space as the cards dance/do gardening 07:18 - Another card carries forth a blue flower from upstage 07:29 - 2 more flowers are erected near her 07:34 - Camera pans left, then right to show more flowers being placed upright 07:40 - 2 final flowers walk into frame from stage left and pose in front of the others, kneeling 07:45 - The flowers all come to life and look around 07:51 - Reenter jester fellow from stage right; the flowers watch him perform 08:24 - Jester exits stage right, flowers and camera follow 08:28 - Camera pans back right to 3 posed flowers upstage and 2 dancing downstage 08:40 - All 5 flowers are now dancing (swaying and bourrée-ing) 09:11 - Camera pans right and then left to reveal more flowers dancing 10:03-10:05 - CU on a flower's face 10:32-10:33 - ECU on another flower's face 10:57 - Flower dance ends; camera returns to center, where Alice has appeared and speaks, at first too hard to hear but then, audibly : "I wish these flowers could talk" 11:07 - Flowers all stand, swarm to Alice, and, screaming, chase her off stage left 11:12-11:24 - Focus of camera goes in and out on what appears to be a red & black abstract art piece 11:25 - Cut to a very technically advanced dancer in a brown costume (Tiger Lily?) slowly moving toward center from stage right 11:35 - Cut back to art 11:37 - Cut back to Tiger Lily, followed on by a man in an equally drab costume (Passion Flower?); they perform a pas de deux and the camera follows them (lights may be fluctuating a bit at this time) 13:52 - Cut to a ghostly hand shape (?) 13:56 - Cut back to pas de deux 14:27 - Passion Flower begins mini-solo and camera follows him 14:40 - Cut to art again: blue splotches on white? 14:43 - Cut back to pas de deux 15:32-15:45 - Pas de deux ends; he walks off stage left carrying her 15:46 - Blackout 15:52 - MCU on White Rabbit in dismay about running late 15:53 - Cut to Rabbit solo (camera follows him around stage) 16:06 - Enter Alice from stage right; she yells something indecipherable 16:11 - Enter Queen of Hearts from stage left, running in a menacing circle & followed by lobsters 16:25-16:27 - CU of queen's face 16:30 - Enter a large white owl from upstage left (in the background) 16:33 - Enter a little hopping frog (child dancer) from stage left; Queen bops him on the head 16:38 - Enter 2 turtles from upstage left while Queen jumps & spins in place at center 16:51 - Pan left to reveal Alice confusedly looking around; pan back right 17:03 - Slow zoom in on Queen & lobsters 17:12 - Zoom back out to LS 17:15 - Cut to CU of an angry/scary lobster face 17:18 - Owl moves forward to follow dancing lobsters & heads straight for camera, followed by turtles, etc.: all seem to be dancing/marching off the front of the stage 17:30 - Pan right to Alice with the snail at center, owl upstage again 17:38-17:44 - Cut to CU of snail's shell/body turning around 17:45 - Back to LS of Queen at center stage 17:46-17:49 - Cut to CU of Queen's face again 17:50 - Group dance ends: Queen et al. drop to the ground 17:51-17:53 - CU on a large cheshire cat face (prop) winking (via light in eye blinking on and off) 17:56 - Cut to Rabbit reentering from stage right to center, presents "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum-Dum-Dum-Dum-Dum..." 17:59 - As the Rabbit repeats the "dum"s, camera pans left to show the pair entering from stage right 18:04 - The twins stop and ask "How d'ya do?" and Alice returns the greeting, sits on the downstage right corner of the stage as they begin their silly pas de deux 18:25 - Dum & Dee are upstage and Alice walks to them 18:30 - Alice pokes them as they seem to be frozen 18:40 - The pair then includes Alice in their dance, pick her up, etc. 18:43 - Camera tilts up to focus on the owl standing at the back on a ladder 18:45-18:48 - Cut to CU of Dee (or Dum?) 19:18 - Dee (or Dum?) has brought an umbrella so they dance with it 19:29 - Cut to quick CU of Dee again 19:36 - Dum & Dee exit stage right via piggy-back ride 19:38 - Pan right to White Rabbit bowing goodbye (they reenter and bow, too) 19:44 - Cut to CU of Humpty Dumpty as Rabbit announces "Here!" 19:48 - Cut to cards dragging in Humpty on a wall and Alice exclaiming "It's Humpty Dumpty!" 19:54 - Humpty begins his dance/walk across his wall 20:11-20:15 - CU on Humpty's face again 20:45 - He finally "falls" backwards off wall 20:50 - The cards put him back on the wall & someone sings sadly about him (unclear who) 21:05 - Cards start to slide the wall off stage right as Alice & Rabbit follow sadly 21:17 - Pan right to Queen 21:21 - Cut to Alice crying 21:26 - Cut to Rabbit crying 21:32 - Cut to turtles and Queen crying (LS), pan left to Alice & Rabbit as Queen yells, "Now, Alice, it's your turn to dance"; Alice responds that she can't, doesn't know how; Queen says "What do you mean, you don't know how to dance? Off with your head!" 21:47 - Pan left to follow the Queen to stage left, where Rabbit then pas de chats 21:53-21:55 - Cut to CU of Rabbit running in profile 22:05 - LS of Alice preparing & beginning dance solo; camera follows 22:35-22:38 - CU of turtles watching her 22:38 - 22:55 - CU of snail 23:12 - 23:15 - ECU of Queen's face 23:33 - Alice completes solo, curtsies; camera pans right to onstage spectators 23:35 - Cut to MCU of Queen amidst shouts of "Encore!" 23:37 - Cut to CU of bear (?) 23:41-23:59 - Cut to LS, camera follows Alice for her encore: she does a series of piqué turns en manège, lands in the splits as the camera zooms in on her 24:00 - Cut to MCU of Rabbit, then MCU of Alice, then a zoom out to reveal disparaging Queen 24:08 - CU of Alice, uncertain about Queen commanding something 24:10 - Cut to LS of Rabbit & Alice beginning a dance-off turned pas de deux (including another can-can) 25:00-25:03 - Cut to CU of turtle again 25:27 - Pan right to queen & cut to CU of her stern face 25:30 - Pan back left to duo, finishing their dance 25:40 - "Here comes the Caterpillar" is announced; Alice and camera look toward stage right, form which the Caterpillar slowly crawls in as the camera follows him 26:25 - Camera zooms to a tight LS of the Caterpillar's lounging body as he "smokes" luxuriously from his hookah 26:33 - Camera pulls back slightly 27:00-27:04 - Cut to blurry abstract art again 27:05 - Cut back to tight LS of now-standing Caterpillar, slight zoom out as he begins to dance 27:14 - Zoom in to follow as he shimmies toward stage right, then a bit back out again--camera continues to move in and out as it follows him 27:37 - Dazed/exhausted, the Caterpillar falls to the ground and the camera pans left to reveal Alize scurrying to his rescue, trying to stop his smoking 27:45 - Camera zooms in to MS of Caterpillar smoking luxuriously again; pan left to upset Alice, then back right & zoom out 28:28 - Cut to tight LS of Queen running & fetching a helper to remove the hookah 28:36 - Cut to CU of Queen's face, expressing anger 28:39 - Cut to LS again; camera follows the Queen toward it to a MS of her rousing a lobster 29:00 - Zoom out and pan back & forth for group song-and-dance by Queen and creatures 29:26 - Pam left reveals Alice & White Rabbit to be joining 29:52-29:57 - CU of lobster dancing 30:30 - Zoom into MCU of Rabbit, cut to owl, cut to CU of Queen, cut to panning MCU between all of the above 30:48 - Group dance ends, camera zooms out to show all creatures bowing to the Queen 30:53 - Cut to slowly focusing in on CU of winking cheshire cat again 31:00 - Cut to CU of turtle 31:08 - Cut to LS of bowers before the Queen and then a zoom in to MS of the Queen as foreboding music begins 31:22 - Pan left as Rabbit reappears, seems to be concerned; pan back & forth as bowing animals get up and share his concern 31:48 - A scream; the owl bourrées in place; camera pans back and forth as the lights flash (lightning effect) and pandemonium ensues onstage 31:56-32:09 - Rapid cuts back & forth between cheshire cat and the scene, presumably for scary effect; pandemonium continues; an umbrella is introduced 32:33 - Flowers enter, bourrée-ing, swaying furiously, from upstage left; Queen spins around, out of control 32:42-32:46 - Cut to CU of cheshire cat again, but blurry 32:48 - Rabbit et al. drag the fainted Queen off stage right; pan right to show Alice swaying w/ the flowers, exiting the bunch eventually to watch them dance 33:20 - The flowers all fall to the ground, with individuals popping up intermittently before falling back down 33:45 - Alice, standing in the middle of them, proclaims, "Oh me, oh my. All my flowers, dead"; she says a few more indecipherable things, followed by "My poor lily," but the flower being addressed quickly pipes up: "I'm a daisy." 34:08 - Alice cries about their death but then they begin to revive 34:20-34:23 - CU of Alice's surprise 34:23 - Cut to LS of a risen flower beside Alice, center stage; others can be seen rising too 35:12 - Alice, happily among live flowers: "Well, you see, that wasn't such a bad storm after all," followed by all onstage flowers running into a phalanx around her and screaming 35:23 - White Rabbit hurriedly re-enters; can-can once again ensues 35:42 - Cut to beaming Alice in close-up. 35:45 - Cut to pink flower, also in a happy CU 35:48 - Cut to LS of 4 flowers; camera then zooms into MCU of the pink & red flowers; then pans left to Alice & Rabbit 36:00 - Cut to CU of dancing white flower 36:04 - Cut to MCU of red flower; zoom out 36:14 - Pan as owl returns, heading the finals entrances that follow: lobsters, Alice, Rabbit with Alice, Dum & Dee (who carry Alice stage right) 37:14 - Cut to CU of flower 37:16 - Caterpillar reenters from stage left; joins Alice at stage right 37:27 - Flowers, in 2 bunches upstage, form dancing circles as camera pans left 37:35 - Turtles & snail reappear, as does the man in drab colors from before (camera follows him as he briefly partners Alice) 38:00 - Pan left to owl bourrée-ing again 38:08 - Cut to LS of most of the stage; owl is in the middle; Alice & the man, Rabbit, Queen, etc. converge for finale 38:25 - Man lifts Alice triumphantly; camera ends with MLS of her in the air before going black.
Additional Credits
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Hillyer, Jayne (is performer)
Related Place
Pittsburgh (production location of)