Alice - By Paul Schmidt

The Yale School of Drama magazine, Theater V.26 #3 1996.


An empty space. One by one, identical figures enter as CHARLES DODGSON. They move in silence. Finally:

CHARLES DODGSON   My head hurt... My head...

ENSEMBLE (In various voices)
Head Heat
      Heat Beat
            Beat Boat
                  Boat Bolt
                        Bolt Molt
              Molt Malt
     Malt Halt
            Halt Hart
   Hart Hurt

DODGSON  My head hurt.

one by one, the figures leave the stage. The last figure brings on a small chair with head and arm rests, and places it downstage  left. From downstage right a large old-fashioned box camera on  a tripod moves slowly toward the chair, trailing an enormous billow of black cloth. The camera stops beside the chair and DODGSON emerges from beneath the cloth.

DODGSON (Sings.)

It's dreamy weather we're on
You wave your crooked wand
Along an icy pond
With a frozen moon
A murder of silhouette crows
I saw...
And the tears on my face
And the skates on the pond
Spell Alice
I'll disappear in your name
But you must wait for me
Somewhere beneath the sea
There's the wreck of a ship
Your hair is like meadow grass
On the tide
And the raindrops on my window
And the ice in my drink
Baby all I can think of
Is Alice

Arithmetic, Arithmetoc,
I turn the hands back on the clock
How does the ocean rock the boat
How did the razor find my throat
The only strings that hold me here
Are tangled up around the pier
And so a secret kiss
Brings madness with the bliss
And I will think of this
When I'm dead in my grave
Set me adrift and I'm lost in your hair
But I must be insane
To go skating on your name
And by tracing it twice
I fell through the ice
Of Alice
There's only Alice

During his song, ALICE LIDDELL appears stage right behind the black cloth. We see only her head, which moves along the black cloth toward the camera. At the end of the song, she leaps into the little chair. DODGSON disappears beneath the black cloth.

Act 1


DODGSON, the photographer, hidden beneath a large black cloth, takes pictures of ALICE. The lens of his old-fashioned box camera extends slowly and menacingly toward her.

ALICE  Stick. Stuck. Stock-still.
Yes, I promise that I will.

Tick. Tock. Time will tell.
Hope of heaven, fear of hell.

That's the way.

No one in this empty house.
Mr. Dodgson, I'm your mouse.

Stand still. Stunned stone.
Have no wishes of my own.

That's the way.

Left alone from six to seven.
All good children go to heaven.

Chase the chickens, choke the child.
Touch my shoulders, wish me wild.

That's the way.

I'm a perfect Anglo-Saxon,
Aren't you?
Have you got a code of honor
That will do?

That will do, Mr. Dodgson,
That will do.
That will do!

DODGSON emerges from under his black cloth as the WHITE RABBIT, and sets off a huge flash. ALICE leaps through the wall behind her. The WHITE RABBIT picks up his camera and exits right.


ALICE falls down the rabbit hole; numerous objects fall past her. She sees a mirror with her name written on it. The mirror breaks and her name is lost. The WHITE RABBIT stands by his camera watching her.


...but I must be insane
To go skating on your name
And by tracing it twice
I fell through the ice
Of Alice
There's only Alice

As the song ends, ALICE comes to rest beside a little glass table. She has landed in the WHITE RABBIT's house. The WHITE RABBIT picks up his camera, goes through a door, and disappears. ALICE attempts to go through the door, but it shrinks to a tiny opening. ALICE stretches out on the  floor and peers through. She sees a beautiful flower garden beyond, but cannot reach it.

ALICE (Sings)

Hell above and heaven below
All the trees are gone
The rain has such a lovely sound
To those who are six feet underground

The leaves will bury every year
And no one knows I'm gone.

Live me golden tell me dark
Hide from graveyard John
But the moon is full here every night
And I can bathe here in his light.

The leaves will bury every year
And no one knows I'm gone.

The WHITE RABBIT crosses the room and sets a bottle on the little glass table. It says "Drink Me." After some hesitation, ALICE does. She begins to shrink: the table grows to giant size, and the bottle in her hand gets bigger and bigger, and the little hole in the wall becomes a door again. ALICE walks into the flower garden.


ALICE comes upon a bed of flowers: LILY, ROSE, and two DAISIES. They are humming to themselves, but they fall silent and bend away as she approaches.

ROSE Who are you?

DAISIES    Who are you? Who are you? Who are you?

ALICE    I'm... I'm... I'm afraid I'm not sure who I am.

ROSE (She leans toward ALICE)   You don't smell like anything.

LILY   And of course you are what you smell like.

ALICE   Little girls shouldn't smell at all. That's it, I'm a little girl!

DAISIES    What's your name? What's your name? What's your name?

ALICE    I had a name this morning, but now it's gone.

DAISIES    Nameless? Shameless! Shameless!

ROSE     But of course a name means nothing.

LILY (Sings)

Someday the silver moon and I
Will go to Dreamland
I will close my eyes
And wake up there in Dreamland
But tell me who will put flowers
On a flower's grave
Who will say a prayer
Will I meet a China rose there
In Dreamland
Or does love lie bleeding
In Dreamland
Are these days gone forever and always

If we are to die tonight
Is there moonlight up ahead
And if we are to die tonight
Another rose will bloom.

For a faded rose
Will I be the one that you save
I love when it showers
But no one puts flowers
On a flower's grave

As one rose dies another blooms
It's always been that way
I remember the showers
But no one puts flowers
On a flower's grave

The song reduces the FLOWERS to tears. Suddenly we hear a loud chomping noise. The FLOWERS wilt and vanish. ALICE looks around and sees a giant mushroom.


ALICE tries to escape through a door in the mushroom, but it closes. A voice calls to her, and she discovers a CATERPILLAR seated upon the mushroom, smoking a pipe.

CATERPILLAR    Speak, boy! Where do you come from?

ALICE    But I'm a little girl... at least, I though I was...

CATERPILLAR    Thinking has nothing to do with it. Either you are or you aren't.

ALICE    I'm little. That's all I know. I want to grow.

CATERPILLAR    Up, you mean?

ALICE    What other way is there?

CATERPILLAR    Oh, lots. You could grow down, like roots. You could grow long, like me. You could grow fat, like a big pig. Grow in, like a toenail. Grow out of your clothes, grow into your shoes.... You could grow boring, even. Why not do as I do? Grow grand! I spin my cocoon, and grow larger and larger....

ALICE    And turn into a butterfly!

CATERPILLAR    No, a butterfly is only an idea, an ideal. Caterpillars are facts, hard facts, You know what happens to people who believe in ideals? Listen!


Table-top Joe, Table-top Joe,
Everyone knows Table-top Joe
Table-top Joe

Well his mama didn't want him
On the day he was born
Born without a body
He got nothing but scorn.

But he always loved music
All he had was his hands
And he dreamed he'd be famous
And he'd work at The Sands

Table-top Joe, Table-top Joe
Everyone knows Table-top Joe

He had trouble with the pedals
But he had a strong left hand
And he could play Stravinsky
On a baby grand.

Table-top Joe, Table-top Joe
Everyone knows Table-top Joe

He said, I'm gonna join the circus
'Cause that's where I belong
And he went to Coney Island
Singing this song.

And they gave him top billing
In the Dreamland Show
He had his own orchestra
Starring Table-top Joe

And the man without a body
Proved everyone wrong
He was rich and he was famous
And he was where he belonged.
Table-top Joe, Table-top Joe
Now everyone knows Table-top Joe

The CATERPILLAR grows larger and larger. ALICE knocks frantically at the door in the mushroom, as the CATERPILLAR's body engulfs the stage.


ALICE stands before a door and knocks repeatedly. A footman, FISH, enters with a letter, and knocks at the door. It is opened by another footman, FROG, They pass the letter back and forth between them, the door is opened and closed, but ALICE can't manage to get through.

FISH    For the Duchess. An invitation from her Majesty to play croquet.

FROG    From her Majesty. An invitation for the Duchess to play croquet.

FISH    An invitation. For the Duchess to play croquet form her Majesty.

FROG    An invitation. From her Majesty to play croquet for the Duchess.

FISH    To play croquet. An invitation from her Majesty for the Duchess.

FROG    To play croquet. An invitation from her Majesty for the Duchess.

They continue this ad libitum, tearing both the invitation and the dialogue into ever smaller pieces. Finally FISH leaves, and the door closes. FROG sits down idly.

ALICE    How do I get through that door?

FROG    That depends which side of it you're on.

ALICE    I'm on the outside, obviously.

FROG    Too bad. If you were on the inside, I could let you out.

ALICE    But I want to get in!

FROG    What for? Everybody on the inside wants to get out.

ALICE    Why?

FROG    Because they're all mad inside.

ALICE    They don't seem quite sane on this side, either!

FROG    That too.

ALICE    If a door is there, it's meant to be opened!

FROG    Open it then.

ALICE opens the door and enters.


ALICE finds herself in a kitchen. A CHESHIRE CAT is licking the dishes  and a COOK is wiping them dry. The DUCHESS sits in a throne with a baby on her lap. The baby cries, and the COOK throws plates at the Duchess. FROG picks up the plates, gives them to the DUCHESS, who throws them back at the COOK. The WHITE RABBIT sweeps up the broken plates. They all sneeze continually and loudly. ALICE tries to sneak out unnoticed.


ALICE    I beg your pardon?

DUCHESS    I said pig! Pig! Pig!

ALICE    But I'm a little girl.

DUCHESS    Pig, little girl, what's the difference? What's your name?

ALICE    I seem to have lost it.

DUCHESS    No name? Then you're a pig. Little girls have names, pigs don't. Voila!

COOK    Your mother must have told you that many a time.

ALICE    She never did.

COOK    Then she's a bad mother.

ALICE    She's a good mother!

DUCHESS    A mother is like the letter M. Neither bad nor good. It all depends on the circumstances. If a mother says "you're mine," that's good. If a strange man says it, that's bad.

CAT    True enough, if you're a little girl. For grown-up girls, it's just the opposite.

DUCHESS    Who asked your opinion?

ALICE    I don't believe I've ever heard a cat with an opinion before.

DUCHESS    Oh, try. With practice you can believe almost anything. For instance, you could believe you were a little girl...

COOK    ... or that you know better than the rest of us...

DUCHESS    ... when you're all alone in the house.

ALICE    But I'm not all alone in the house any more. I'm all alone right here.

DUCHESS    Your place is here, child, in the kitchen with us. Kids and kitchen, that's the rule. Here.

She throws the baby to the COOK, who trows it back. They keep tossing it back and forth.

COOK    Let a little girl in the kitchen, she'll make a mess. Pig!

DUCHESS    A girl starts making a mess, next thing you know she has a baby, and voila, she's a mother herself. Here.

ALICE    But I don't want to be a mother, all I want is to find a way out of here.

COOK    A way out? You just got in.

DUCHESS    The more doors you open...

FROG    ... the deeper in you get.

The baby is thrown one last time, and ends up in ALICE's arms. It has turned into a piglet.

DUCHESS    Take care of it, child. I must go dress, or I'll be late for the Queen's croquet party.

The DUCHESS, COOK, and FROG exit. ALICE is left with the piglet and the CHESHIRE CAT.


DODGSON writes letters to ALICE. He looks at her photograph. The CHESHIRE CAT comes out of the kitchen, and smears the letters. DODGSON crumples up the ruined letters and throws them at the CHESHIRE CAT.

DODGSON (Writes)

Dear Alice, last night I dreamed that I was dreaming of you. And from a window across the lawn I watched you undress wearing a sunset of purple tightly woven around your hair that rose in strangled ebony curls moving in a yellow bedroom light. The air is wet with sound. The faraway yelping of a wounded dog. The ground drinking a slow faucet leak. Your house is so soft and fading as it soaks the black summer heat. A yellow cat runs out on the stream of hall light and into the yard. A wooden cherry scent is faintly breathing the air. I hear our champagne laugh. You wear two lavender orchids, one in your hair and one on your hip. A string of yellow carnival lights comes on with the dusk, circling the lake with a slowly dipping halo and I heard a banjo tango playing a minor waltz. And you danced into the shadow of a black poplar tree and I watched you as you disappeared. I buried a rabbit's heart stuck with pins in the graveyard in hope it would break this spell of love. But it did not.

The CAT plays with the crumpled letters. DODGSON leaves.


Late at night. ALICE cannot sleep. We see her as a woman in her late forties, in an elegant gown. She has been drinking, and is talking to her cat.

ALICE    Move back he said, and back I moved, but it wasn't enough. Then he said move forward and I moved forward but it wasn't enough. And then move left and I moved left and then right; I moved right and it wasn't enough. No matter how I moved, Kitty it wasn't enough. And then came the stillness. Hold still for a few seconds he said, it won't hurt you, you're a little girl, he said, you must learn to hold still, and I held still for ten seconds and it wasn't enough. Then he said hold still for fifteen seconds and I held still for fifteen seconds and it wasn't enough. And then hold still for forty-five seconds and I sat for what seemed like hours and hours. I held so still I though I was dead. But I never blinked. You remember that day, kitty, we had gone for a walk in the woods, you discovered a rabbit, a tiny white rabbit, and it sat there and stared at you frozen with fear? That's how I sat, Kitty. And he was there, he was there somewhere in a big black cloud, and his round shiny eye kept looking and looking. That's wonderful, don't you think, Kitty? How close he wanted me, and how far away he kept me. I felt the tears coming and the screams coming but I never blinked. I looked into the little eye and there was nothing there but me. That's wonderful, don't you think?

Then something inside me unfolded, unlocked, and I lay back and let the look lie down on top of me, oh, the heavy long years of what is to be seen and what is not to be seen, what is to be shown and what is not to be shown, to be seen and unseen and is there ever a way out of that? But that was every so sweetly my artful Dodgson's dodge, and he stopped my clock, but it was not where anything else stopped.

And I know why, Kitty. He stopped me to keep me from shipwreck and hailstorm, from the stink of dead lilies, the odor of sh... Shhh. But those were my dreams, Kitty. I dreamed of burned bodies and rusting pavilions, of horses that galloped by night so distant that dawn never found them. I was wide with my dreams, that what he hated. He wanted to keep me away from my dreams. (ALICE pets her cat.)


An enormous cat's head appears in a tree in front of ALICE.

CAT    It's the night before morning and deep in the house A little girls nestles in bed like a mouse. The landscape is empty and scoured by dreams And the only thing heard is the sound of her screams.

The voice of a grown-up repeats in her ear:
Just be a good girl, there is nothing to fear,
Nothing to frear if you hold yourself still -
But the fact is, we know there are kisses that kill

It's no use pretending that help will arrive;
For help often finds not a soul left alive.
It's no use pretending that morning will come,
If our eyes remain shut and our tongues remain dumb.

The dreams of young children stay fast in their heads
As long as the grown-ups stay out of their beds
The stairways in nightmares are scary and steep,
But the fear is forgot when we wake from our sleep.

We must wake all alone, get up stretch, and grow:
From the nine lives I've lived, that's all that I know
But we can't waste the day with our rhythm and rhyme -
A girl who must grow must find out about Time!

ALICE    Which way should I go from here?

CAT    Either way. East you'll find the Hatter; he's mad. West you'll find the March Hare; he's equally mad.

ALICE    Everyone here seems mad.

CAT    Oh, they are, they are. I'm mad myself. Quite mad.

ALICE    I'm not mad.

CAT    Of course you are. If you weren't mad, you wouldn't be here.

He disappears and ALICE goes on her way.


ALICE sees a long table laid with many places set out under a tree. The MAD HATTER, the MARCH HARE, and the DORMOUSE are having tea. ALICE tries to sit down.

MARCH HARE    No room! No room!

MAD HATTER    No room! No room! Go back where you came from!

ALICE    But there's plenty of room.

MARCH HARE    No there isn't. It just looks like it.

MAD HATTER    There's only enough for us.

MARCH HARE    Oh, let her sit down. What does it matter, Hatter?

MAD HATTER    Let her sit down. What do I care, Hare?

DORMOUSE    What's the meat of the matter?
The heat of the hatter?
The hate of the hitter?
The hire of the hare?
The lure of the pair?
The cure for the care?

MARCH HARE    Oh, shut up!

They change places continually. ALICE tries to get a cup of tea.

MARCH HARE    Are you going to the Queen's croquet party?

ALICE    I haven't been invited.

MAD HATTER    Just show up. She'll never know the difference.

ALICE    That didn't get me very far here.

DORMOUSE    You mean hare.

MAD HATTER    Raus, mouse!

DORMOUSE    Natter nitter nitter natter,
Killing time with Hare and Hatter.
This isn't making sense
And if it were it wouldn't matter!


Hang me in a bottle like a cat
Let the crows pick me clean but for my hat
Where the wailing of a baby
Meets the footsteps of the dead
We're all mad here

As the Devil sticks his flag into the mud
Mrs. Carroll has run off with Father Judd
Hell is such a lonely place
And your big expensive face
Will never last.

Have I told you all about the Eyeball Kid
He was born alone inside a Petri dish
And he was born without a body or a brow.

And you'll die with the rose still on your lips
And in time the heart-shaped bone
That was your hips
And all the worms they will climb
The rugged ladder of your spine
We're all mad here.

And my eyeballs roll this terrible terrain
We're all inside a decomposing train
And your eyes will die like fish
And the shore of your face will turn to bone

An exhausted pause.

MARCH HARE    We need a tale to while away the time.

MAD HATTER    A tale! What a whale of a way to tell the time!

MARCH HARE    Can't tell him anything - he won't listen, you know.

ALICE    Who!


MAD HATTER    But Time will tell. Time tells the longest tale. Always. Time's tale is longer than yours. He never ends.

MARCH HARE    But whether or not the tale gets told - that's another matter, Hatter.

DORMOUSE    Time out! Time out! Time out!

ALICE    You mean we're out of time?

MARCH HARE    No, time is out.

ALICE    Of what?

MAD HATTER    Of joint - oh cursed spite! I swear we'll never get this right...

ALICE    I haven't got all night, you know...

They continue to change places.

ALICE    I wish I were out!

MAD HATTER    Of what?

ALICE    Of here.

DORMOUSE    You mean hare.

MAD HATTER    Shut your door, mouse!

ALICE    How do I find the Queen?

MAD HATTER    Go through the forest.

ALICE    How do I find the forest?

MAD HATTER    Go through the tree.

ALICE    How do I go through the tree?

MAD HATTER    Through the door!

There is indeed a door in the tree. ALICE opens it, steps through and disappears.

MARCH HARE    We need a tale that has no time. A timeless tale. I know! (To the DORMOUSE.) Tell us the tale of Father William!

DORMOUSE    But I don't know Father William.

MAD HATTER    You will once you've told us his tale.


"You are old, Father William, the young man said,
And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head -
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"


FATHER WILLIAM and his SON appear, continue the song, and then act it out.


"You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head -
Do you think at your age it is right?"


"In my youth," Father William replied to his son -
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."


"You are old," said the youth, "as I mentioned before,
And you have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back somersault in at the door -
Pray what is the reason of that?"


"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his gray locks,
"I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment - one shilling the box -
Allow me to sell you a couple?"


"You are old," said the youth, "and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, both the bones and the beak -
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"


"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength that it gave to my jaw
Has lasted the rest of my life."


"You are old," said the youth, "one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose -
What made you so awfully clever?"


"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said his father. "Don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"


ALICE  has wandered into a dark wood. The WHITE RABBIT appears among the trees, calling her name. ALICE covers her ears.

WHITE RABBIT    Alice! Alice! Alice!

ALICE    That can't be me.
I am not she.
How can that be?
I should be me!

The WHITE RABBIT vanishes.

But where am I?
And am I I?
I cannot tell you why
Or who or what is I -
No matter how I try.

Enter a FAWN.

Who are you?

FAWN    Who are you?

ALICE    I am me.

FAWN    So am I. I am me.

ALICE    Then we're we.

FAWN    We are?

ALICE    Don't you see?
Here we are, just we two...

FAWN    I am I, you are you...

ALICE    But what does it mean?
And what should we do?

FAWN    How can we talk if we don't know who we are?

ALICE    How can we know who we are if we don't talk?

FAWN    What exactly do you mean?

ALICE    Well, I seem to be searching for something...

FAWN    Yes, I know what you mean.

ALICE    We seem to be searching together...

FAWN    Together! That's lovely, I think. Don't you?

ALICE    Oh, I do! I most certainly do!
Shall we just go on searching forever?

FAWN    Together forever! That's lovely!

ALICE    Yes, that's what I meant...

They are so enchanted by their harmony that they begin to sing. But the song has no words in it. At the end of the song the trees begin to disappear, it begins to grow lighter, the forest turns to a clearing. ALICE and the FAWN look at one another.

ALICE    Why, you're a fawn!

FAWN    So I am! A fawn! I'm a fawn! That's what we were searching for! And you are a - Oh my God! You're a girl! You're a little girl! Oh my God! Monster! Monster! Get away from me! Leave me alone! Get away! Away! Away!

The FAWN runs off.

ALICE    I'm not a monster! And I am a little girl. That makes sense to me - and the fawn said I was, so that makes two of us. Yes, that must be right. I'm a little girl!

The DUCHESS and the MAD HATTER enter, in a mad hurry on their way to the Queen's croquet party.

DUCHESS    The Queen! The Queen!
I'll lose my head, I'll lose my head!
My knick, my knack, my knock, my neck,
Oh my! Goodbye! (and on and on ad lib)

MAD HATTER    We're late! We're late!
The Queen won't wait!
Oh jiminy jiminy jiminy!
We're late! We're late!(and on and on ad lib)

They go off in a hurry. ALICE follows them.


The CHESHIRE CAT walks slowly across the grass, dropping DODGSON's letters as he goes. Several CHESSMAN, the Queen's gardeners, enter. They find the letters and pick them up. Other CHESSMAN set up wickets for a croquet game. As the CHESSMAN assemble, the BLACK KING appears.


Round the curve of a parrot bar
A broken-down old movie star
Hustling an Easterner
Bringing out the beast in him
A high dive in a swimming pool
Filled with needles and with fools
The memories are short but the tales are long
Down there on the Reeperbahn.

They called her Rosie when she went to school
For her bright red cheeks and her strawberry curls
When she would sing the river would run
She said she'd be a comedian
Oh what a pity Oh what a shame
When she said come calling, nobody came
Now her bright red cheeks are painted on
And she's laughing her head off in the

Now little Hans was always strange
Wearing women's underthings
His father beat him but he wouldn't change
He ran off with a man one day
Now his lingerie is all the rage
In the black on every page
His father proudly calls his name
Down there in the Reeperbahn.

Now if you've lost your inheritance
And all you've left is common sense
And you're not too picky about the crowd you keep
Or the mattress where you sleep
Behind every window, behind every door
The apple is gone but there's always the core
The seeds will sprout up right through the floor
Down there in the Reeperbahn
Down there in the Reeperbahn


A large croquet ground. The BLACK KING  and BLACK QUEEN play croquet with a crowd of CHESSMAN. Soon the DUCHESS, the MAD HATTER, and ALICE appear. Everyone looks at ALICE.

BLACK QUEEN     So. You finally got here. It's taken a while, I must say. But here we are at last. In front of all these people. What a shame. Aren't you ashamed? I would be.

ALICE    I haven't done anything wrong!

BLACK QUEEN    I'll be the judge of that. (To the KING.) And so will you, won't you, dear? And so will all the rest of us. We'll all be the judge of that.

ALICE    The judge of what?

BLACK QUEEN    You know very well what. Otherwise you wouldn't have run away.

ALICE    I was just trying to find a way out...

BLACK QUEEN    And you've just gotten yourself deeper and deeper in, haven't you? We have witnesses. And evidence.

A  CHESSMAN gives the letters to the QUEEN.

BLACK QUEEN    We have found a lot of letters
And the sender isn't clear,
But we know who they were sent to -
And she's here.

BLACK KING    They must have come from someone,
But the letters aren't signed,
And without some sort of evidence
I can't make up my mind.

BLACK QUEEN    The sender never signed them,
So of course our course is clear:
Arrest the girl whose name is on them -

ALICE    A name!

BLACK QUEEN    ... since she's here! Off with her head!

BLACK KING    Not ye, my dear, there are a lot of witnesses to be heard first.

DUCHESS    Aren't we going to play croquet?

BLACK QUEEN    First we're going to play courtroom. Question: is she a little girl, or not?

DUCHESS    She wouldn't stay in the kitchen...

BLACK QUEEN     Precisely! Then she's not really a little girl! Off with her head!

DUCHESS    But I haven't finished my testimony!

MAD HATTER    And I haven't finished my tea!

BLACK QUEEN    You invited the accused to tea?

MAD HATTER    I didn't invite her. She came uninvited. And she took a lot of time...

BLACK QUEEN    Then she's a thief as well! (To ALICE.) Well, I think we have enough evidence now. Yes, I think we do. (To ALICE.) Speak, boy! Do you admit your great guilt?

ALICE    I don't admit anything!

BLACK KING    That's important evidence! Off with her head!

BLACK QUEEN    Call the executioner! Off with her head!


You've murdered the time and you must pay
For the things you've done
Drown him in tears I say
And off with his bleeding head
Hammer him into the ground
As cold as a railroad spike.

The EXECUTIONER seizes ALICE. A frame descends from the clouds, and the WHITE KNIGHT steps from it.

WHITE KNIGHT    Here com I, a perfect gentle knight
To open doors and fill the house with light;
I come with hope, to put an end to night.

I am here to defend who needs to be defended
For a child in need must be always befriended
As a broken toy can expect to be mended.


They bought a round for the sailor
And they heard his tale
Of a world that was so far away
And a song that we'd never heard
A song of a little bird
Who fell in love with a whale.

He said: You cannot live in the ocean
And she said to him:
You never can live in the sky
But the ocean is filled with tears
And the sea turns into a mirror
And there's a whale in the moon when it's clear
And a bird on the tide.

ALICE joins in the song.

Please don't cry
Let me dry
Your eyes
So tell me that you will wait for me
Hold me in your arms
I promise we never will part
I'll never sail back to the time
But I'll always pretend you're mine
Though I know that we both must part
You can live in my heart.

The WHITE KNIGHT takes ALICE by the hand and leads her into the frame. The frame ascends. Blackout.



An empty space. The WHITE KNIGHT alone. He dances dreamily.


So tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me in your arms
I promise we never will part
I'll never sail back to the time
But I'll always pretend you're mine
Though I know that we both must part
You can live in my heart.

ALICE approaches from the empty distance. As she does so, a golden frame drops slowly out of the sky. ALICE goes up to it. On the other side of the frame the WHITE KNIGHT gestures, and ALICE mirrors movements. The WHITE KNIGHT stamps his foot and ALICE crashes through the mirror. She
is in a dark forest.

ALICE    Where am I?
And what is my name?

WHITE KNIGHT    It doesn't make any sense to say where you are if you don't know what your name is. To know what your name is doesn't make sense when you can't say where you are.

ALICE    Is there a way to get out of here having gotten in?

WHITE KNIGHT    Any way into the woods can also become a way out. It wouldn't be woods without a way out, and you'll find the way out within the way in. Listen!


Eight VICTORIAN VICARS dance onstage, singing. ALICE and the WHITE KNIGHT watch.

CHORUS OF VICARS    'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimbel 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 frumious 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!
Oh frabjous day! Calooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

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

The VICTORIAN VICARS dance off. ALICE and the


ALICE, astonished, watches them dance off.

ALICE    What was that?

WHITE KNIGHT    Jabberwocky is a riddle. Find out what the riddle means, and you find your way out of the woods.

ALICE    How can I find out what it means?

WHITE KNIGHT    How many doors did you open, coming in?
So many questions must you ask, going out.
Find the way out
Within the way in.
I come to care.
Do not despair.


Everything you can think of is true
Before the ocean was blue
We were lost in a flood
Run red with your bloods
Nigerian skeleton crew

Everything you can think of is true
The dish ran away with a spoon
Did deep in your heart for that little red glow
We're decomposing as we go.

Everything you can think of is true
And fishes make wishes on you
We're fighting our way up a dreamland spine
With black flamingos, expensive wine.

Everything you can think of is true
The baby's asleep in your shoe
Your teeth are buildings with yellow doors
Your eyes are fish on a creamy shore.

The WHITE KNIGHT vanishes. ALICE is alone. She sees a light shining deep in the forest.


A shop suddenly materializes, and ALICE finds herself inside. Its thousands of shelves seem full until you look directly at them and realize they are empty. A large WHITE SHEEP sits knitting something from her own wool.

SHEEP    It's dark.

ALICE    Yes, it's dark.

SHEEP    Very dark.
This is not a pretty picture.
This could be a pretty picture,
It has been a pretty picture,
But not now, no.

ALICE    No?

SHEEP    No, not now, never.
Oh, pity the sheep keeper keeping the sheep.
And pity the shop keeper keeping the shop.
But I am a sheep who is keeping a shop,
Keeping a shop where nothing is shipped.

Oh, pity the shopper who shops in a shop
Where nothing is shipped except sheep.
Shipper and shopper and shepherd and sheep,
It's almost enough to make you weep.

ALICE    Is nothing ever shipped to the shop?

SHEEP    Nothing. Nichts. Nada. Niente. Nichevo. Oh, there is sometimes, but you have to close your eyes to see it. See?

She points to a shelf, where goods appear and disappear.

ALICE    But I can't see anything.

SHEEP    Then you're not using your imagination. In this part of
the woods, imagination is a great help. (She screams.)

ALICE    What's the matter?

SHEEP    Nothing. It's just that I'm about to prick my finger.  What exactly are you interested in buying?

ALICE    I'm trying to find out the meaning of Jabberwocky.

SHEEP    We don't sell meanings, dear. We tried it for years. Threw out the old ones, invented all kinds of new ones, but it was no use. Nobody wanted to buy them.

ALICE    But I've got to find the meaning so I can get out of the woods!

SHEEP    Calm down, dear. I've been lost in the woods for years now. It isn't so bad, really. (She smiles and holds up a bloody finger.)  See? What did I tell you? Have an egg, that'll make you feel better.

ALICE    An egg?

SHEEP    There's something very comforting about an egg: so
perfectly smooth and white and round, a sense of completeness...

ALICE    Yes, an egg. I think I would like an egg!

SHEEP    There's one on that shelf - at least there was a moment ago.... Well, no matter. We'll go find it for you.

The SHEEP's chair turns into a boat. ALICE and the SHEEP get in it and sail away.


ALICE and the WHITE SHEEP sing as their boat drifts slowly along.

ALICE and SHEEP (Sing.)

A cloud lets go of the moon
My ribbons are all out of tune
I'm skating on the ice in a glass
And in the hands of a man
That I kissed on a train
The children have all gone to town
To get candy and we are
Alone in the house here
And your eyes fall down on me.

And I belong only to you
The water is filling my shoes
In the wine of my heart there's a stone
In a well made of bone
I will bring to the pond
And I'm here in your pocket
Curled up in a dollar
And the chain from your watch
Around my neck
And I'll stay right here till it's time.

The girls all knit in the shade
Before the baby is made
The branches bend down to the ground
Here to swing on
And I'm lost in the blond summer grass
And the train whistle blows
And the carnival goes
Till there's only the tickets and crows
But the grass will all grow back
And the branches
Spell Alice
And I belong to you.

As they sail, a wall appears, with a large egg sitting upon it. ALICE leaps from the boat, and it sails off with the WHITE SHEEP.


A large egg-like creature, HUMPTY DUMPTY, sits on top of a wall. ALICE approaches.

ALICE    If you please, Sir - what's on the other side of the wall?

HUMPTY DUMPTY    Who wants to know?

ALICE    I do.

HUMPTY DUMPTY    And who are you?

ALICE    I'm a little girl named... named... I'm afraid I don't know my name any more. But I thought perhaps there might be a door in the wall...

HUMPTY DUMPTY    A door!! You cannot have a door in a wall. You'd lose the wallness of it. If you could get through to the other side of a wall, what's the point of having it?

ALICE    What is on the other side, then?

HUMPTY DUMPTY    Nothing, when you can't see what's there - or everything, since you can imagine whatever you please. On the other side of a wall, everything is possible, but nothing really exists.

ALICE    But you can see the other side, can't you?

HUMPTY DUMPTY    Of course I can, child. Someone always has to see both sides. I am the all-inclusive dialectic between here and there. If you want to know what's on the other side, you have to ask me.

ALICE    Wouldn't it be simpler just to tear down the wall?

HUMPTY DUMPTY    Don't even think that, child! Tear down the wall, what would become of me?

ALICE    An omelet, perhaps?

HUMPTY DUMPTY    What a nasty thing to say!

ALICE    But I didn't mean

HUMPTY DUMPTY    Precisely. You don't mean. You're like everybody else, you say, but you don't mean. Now I, on the other hand, mean - even when I don't say. Take this, for instance.

Over here the ladies
All want perfume
But there's never a rose
The roses are frightened to bloom
So they never can grow.

And over here they need wool
For weaving baby's new clothes
But nobody has any wool
And the sheep are all lost
In the harbor
Lost in the harbor

Sirens are heard.

And over here
They want diamonds to wear
But there aren't any here
And over there
Everyone's hiding their tears.

And the wall won't come down
Till they are no longer afraid of themselves
If you don't believe me, ask the elves
And I can come down
To the harbor
Down to the harbor.

And then I will
Back up the ocean with my tears
I still have a couple more years
And then I can come back
To the harbor
Down to the harbor.

There! And that's only a beginning. Never rely on the letter M.

ALICE    Why M?


ALICE    Oh, you are the person I've been looking for! I'm
trying to find out what "Jabberwocky" means.

HUMPTY DUMPTY    Jabberwocky again! They all want to know what Jabberwocky means. It's a wall of words, child, a wall of words. My advice to you is, see if it has any meaning without the words.

ALICE    But how can I do that?

HUMPTY DUMPTY    By holding still, child. Stand stock-still, and watch.

The eight VICTORIAN VICARS appear in front of the wall.


The VICARS perform Jabberwocky as a pantomime. ALICE watches, trying to understand what the gestures mean. When they leave, she looks questioningly at HUMPTY DUMPTY; he falls from the wall and breaks into pieces. A curtain falls. In front of it appear the MAD HATTER and the DUCHESS. They
sing of a previous existence as dissolute clergymen.


Now he's a halter boy
Bound up in leather and chains
What became of old Father Brown
I'll never forget the Sunday he left
He gave me something special in the rectory
He's an Altar Boy
He corrected me in the rectory
And that's why I'm feeling so blue
'Cause I'm an Altar Boy
What about you?
Pater noster qui es in coelis
Sanctificetur nomen tuum
Adveniat regnum tuum.

And I can order in Latin
Make 'em au gratin, Joe
'Cause I'm an old Altar Boy
I never got the rest of the dream
Just the ritual
Now I'm habitual
Majoring in crimes that are unspeakable
I'm an Altar Boy
That's what happened to me.

He's just an old Altar Boy
Laying out there in the street
He's an Altar Boy
Hoping he can meet
A woman dressed like a nun
He knows there's got to be some around here
Drinking across from the church
Just a little Father Cribari wine
On a Sunday morning time
Remembering when he was busier
Now he's getting dizzier
Fill it up, Joe,
You know the routine, yeah,
I'm an Altar Boy, oh yeah.

Out there in the bar
Making the scena
With a novena
Why is he winking
At this time in his life
He never took a wife
'Cause he's an old Altar Boy

Drinking Cribari wine
An Altar Boy
Down here in his prime
What became of him
Well, he's looking up the dress
Of Sister Marie
As you can see
He's rather depressed
He hasn't been to Mass
Since nineteen forty-three
'Cause he's an old Altar Boy
He figured he got enough religion
Already in him
Now he's leafing through the dirty magazines
He's an Altar Boy
What became of him
He's an old Altar Boy, yeah.


It is late at night. DODGSON is alone in his room and cannot sleep. He stammers slightly on the letter "M".

DODGSON    My head hurt. You have to understand that, otherwise nothing makes any sense. It was the noise, I think. Crash, scream, cry, clatter, clang, constantly clang clang, everywhere that noise. It hurt my head. The clatter of dishes, and children screaming, and the darkness was stifling, the heat made me sweat. And the clocks! Clocks in their clocktowers, beating the hours. There was no way to make it stop. All night, sitting alone, scratching on paper, trying to drown out the noise. But it was always there.

And then she came, and the noise stopped. Oh, I know you think this is fanciful, some sort of metaphor. No. No, I can assure you of that. Nothing in my life has ever been as real as the silence she brought me.

Have you ever felt what it's like when a great noise stops? Days and months and years of screaming and crying, the crash of crockery, the whining of cats, and then suddenly nothing. Silence came down over everything, and I could hear it, I could hear the silence descending. That's wonderful, don't you think? To be able to hear the silence, rolling across me, across Oxford, across all England, like a great soft blanket of fog.

She stood there in the doorway, that's all, and time stopped. And I became myself. That's wonderful, don't you think? I was suddenly myself for the first time. I was everything I'd always wanted to be, just because that girl stood there in the doorway. And I thought, if only I can make time stop, she will stand there forever.

Afterwards, of course, it grew darker. My head still hurt, only not so much. And not always. Mostly I was alone in a forest. I didn't know how I got there, but there seems to have been a path. Yes, I'm sure there was a path, you could see the white stones in the moonlight. Was there moonlight? Yes, there must have been moonlight, I could see the white stones. And everything else was stillness, a perfect unending stilllness, and for that I was glad.


DODGSON, dressed in the academic robes of an Oxford professor, poses a number of puzzles for ALICE. STUDENTS help her to work out the answers by holding up cards with large letters printed on them.



DODGSON    Make a BOY into a MAN.





ALICE wanders further into the wood. She discovers two tiny men, TWEEDLEDUM and TWEEDLEDEE, dressed identically, mirror images of each other.


It always rains here... It always rains here...

ALICE    Who are you?

DUM    I am Tweedledum.

DEE    And I am Tweedledee.

ALICE    Are you brothers?

DUM    No! Contrariwise!

DEE    Contrariwise!

DUM    I am I and he is he...

DEE    What do you take us for, a we?

ALICE    You look identical to me.

DUM    We're not!

DEE    Contrariwise!

DUM    I'm from the West, he's from the East.

DEE    Contrariwise! I'm East, he's West.

ALICE    How do you tell the difference?

DUM    There isn't any.

DEE    Quite the opposite.

DUM    And contrariwise.


It always rains here... It always rains here....

ALICE    Do you know Jabberwocky?

DEE    No, but if he lives in these woods, he knows us.

DUM    Everybody in these woods knows us.

ALICE    And contrariwise.

DEE    They're all afraid of us.

DUM    That's because we're fighters!
We're backwoodsmen.

DEE    Backward as they come. We live to fight!

ALICE    Who do you fight?

DUM    Each other!

DEE    And contrariwise!

ALICE    But why?

DUM    Because we're both so alike.

DEE    Whenever he fights, I fight too!

DUM    And whenever I fight, he fights too!

ALICE    Why not contrariwise?

DUM    What?

DEE    What?

ALICE    If you won't fight, he can't fight. And if he won't fight, you can't fight.

DUM    That'll never work.

ALICE    Why not?

DEE    If we don't fight each other...

DUM    No one could tell us apart.

They begin to duel with their umbrellas.

DEE    Uh-oh! I'm soaking wet!

DUM    Me too!

They open their umbrellas.

ALICE    But it isn't raining!

DUM    It will be. Just wait.

DEE    Run for shelter!

There is a sudden clap of thunder, and the sky grows very dark.

DUM    See?


It always rains here... It always rains here...

DUM and DEE both run away and leave ALICE. The thunderstorm begins.


A wild thunderstorm blows through the forest, and blows ALICE in its path.


ALICE is tossed about by the wind and rain. There is a sudden crash of thunder and lightning, and the BLACK KNIGHT appears. He is dressed identically to the WHITE KNIGHT, with his visor down.

BLACK KNIGHT    Ahoy! Ahoy! Ahoy! Check! You're m-m-m-m-y...

Suddenly there is another crash of thunder and lightning, and the WHITE KNIGHT appears, with his visor down and his face hidden.

WHITE KNIGHT    Ahoy! Ahoy! Ahoy! Check!

BLACK KNIGHT    She's m-m-m-my prisoner, you know.

WHITE KNIGHT    Well, we must fight for her then.

They fight. The BLACK KNIGHT knocks the WHITE KNIGHT to the ground. The WHITE KNIGHT lies unconscious, his helmet off. The thunderstorm begins to recede.

ALICE    Oh, you've killed him!

BLACK KNIGHT    Nonsense, I've only knocked him silly. He's unconscious.

ALICE    Oh, the poor old man! Please, please, dear sir, wake up, wake up! (She tries to revive him.)

BLACK KNIGHT    Be careful! He's dreaming now. And what do you suppose he's dreaming about?

ALICE    Nobody can guess that.

BLACK KNIGHT    He's dreaming about you. And if he woke up and stopped dreaming, where do you think you'd be?

ALICE    Where I am now, of course.

BLACK KNIGHT    You'd be nowhere! You're only a sort of thing in his dream! You'd go out like a candle. Bang! Just like that!

ALICE    If I'm only a thing in his dream, what about you?

BLACK KNIGHT    Ditto! Ditto! But I am a power here in these woods, and only the answer to the riddle of Jabberwocky can defeat m-m-me, and you have found nothing. You are
m-m-my prisoner. You m-m-must come to the Queen, who will cut off your head.

The BLACK KNIGHT leads ALICE away. The dark sky begins to brighten.


The thunderstorm has passed. The WHITE KNIGHT lies alone on the ground. He comes to, sits up, and sings.


Did you hear the news about Edward?
On the back of his head
He had another face
Was it a woman's face
Or a young girl?

They said to remove it would kill him
So poor Edward was doomed
The face could laugh and cry
It was his Devil twin
And at night she spoke to him
Of things heard only in Hell
They are impossible to separate
Chained together for life.

Finally the bell tolled his doom
He took a suite of rooms
And hung himself and her
From the balcony irons
Some still believe he was freed from her
But I knew her too well
I say she drove him to suicide
And took Poor Edward to hell.

The WHITE KNIGHT stands, and slowly turns around. On the back of his head there is indeed a woman's face. He exits.


The croquet ground, as in scene seven. The BLACK QUEEN, BLACK KING, CHESSMAN, DUCHESS, MAD HATTER are all where we saw them last.


You've murdered the time and you must pay
For the things you've done
Drown him in tears I say
And off with his bleeding head
Hammer him into the ground
As cold as a railroad spike

Take the eyes from his head
And boil him until he's dead
Choke the life from -
As cold as the hands of time
You're now in the hands of time

Enter the BLACK KNIGHT and ALICE as his prisoner.

BLACK QUEEN    So. Here we are again. And we thought we could get away with something, didn't we? Going off like that, with a man old enough to be your father! Guilty, I'd say. Definitely guilty.

ALICE    But what is my guilt?

BLACK QUEEN    Look at these letters! All of them scrawled with your name!

ALICE    But I didn't write them, and I don't know who did!

BLACK QUEEN    No matter. Off with her head!


WHITE KNIGHT    The little girl is innocent. The guilty one is here.

BLACK KING    And who are you, exactly, if one may ask?

WHITE KNIGHT    I am the White Knight. I am the one who wrote the letters.

General sensation in the court.

BLACK QUEEN    AT last! A criminal! A confessed criminal! Off with his head!

ENSEMBLE    Off with his head! Off with his head!

They lead the WHITE KNIGHT to the guillotine. Drum rolls, thunder crash, flash of camera, blackout. The WHITE KNIGHT's head falls, but he now appears as the WHITE RABBIT. General sensation.

BLACK QUEEN    And who are you?

WHITE RABBIT    I am the White Rabbit. I am the one who wrote the letters.

General sensation in the court.

BLACK QUEEN    Another confessed criminal! Better and better! Off with his head!

They lead the WHITE RABBIT to the guilllotine. Drum rolls, thunder crash, flash of camera, blackout. The WHITE RABBIT loses his head, and is now CHARLES DODGSON. General sensation.

BLACK QUEEN    And who are you?

DODGSON    My name is Charles Dodgson. I am the one who wrote the letters.

General sensation in the court.

BLACK QUEEN    Another criminal! This is better than croquet! Off with his head!

DODGSON    Let me assist you. This time, I take my head off myself.

He takes off his beard and wig and steps forward.

BLACK QUEEN    And who are you?

LEWIS CARROLL    It is I who have written you all. (He takes the stack of letters from the BLACK QUEEN.)  I took a photograph, and made time stand still. Now it continues its march. You wanted a verdict? Here. I tear up what I've written, you all disappear. The case is closed.

He burns one letter after another, and one after another the Wonderland characters vanish. LEWIS CARROLL and ALICE are left alone.

ALICE    Thank you.

LEWIS CARROLL    What for?

ALICE    Now that the story is over, I think perhaps I can grow again.

LEWIS CARROLL    Oh, but of course the story isn't over yet.

ALICE    (Gives a little shriek) It isn't?

LEWIS CARROLL    No, first you must solve the riddle. You must tell me what Jabberwocky means.

ALICE whispers in his ear. He smiles. She whispers again. He continues to smile. She whispers again. His face falls. He leaves. She smiles and starts to leave. We suddenly see her as an old woman.


I went to a circus when I was a little girl, and I saw two old ladies who were joined at the hip and I asked them how they got along, and the dark-haired one told me they hadn't spoken
a word to each other in thirty years "but we still get together over the holidays." And Dodgson told me once when I was a young girl on one of three long summer afternoons that he
had vanished into a dream and was still inside it and that I was in it too, for I live in his dream. He had fallen on the ice that time and broke his watch and he said he would never get it fixed and that neither of us are real and anything can happen and we will only wake up when we die. And he gave me a song in that dream and I haven't sung this in years and now I get up every day and put on the face I face the world with.


You haven't looked at me that way in years
You dreamed me up and left me here
How long was I dreaming for
What was it you wanted me for
You haven't looked at me that way in years.

Your watch has stopped and the pond is clear
Someone turn the lights back off
I'll love you till the wheels come off
I remember you with leaves in your hair
But I'm still here.