The 150th Anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland meant that Alice was Everywhere in 2015!
When we last left our intrepid hero (me), she was still giddy from fabulous Alice in Wonderland exhibits in California and Texas, and preparing to launch this website. What happened next in the year Alice150? Well…
July 2015 – Alice Is Everywhere Is Born, Plus Steampunk Alice in Las Vegas
On July 4, 2015, I launched aliceiseverywhere.com. Why publish a website on a holiday when most people are outdoors barbecuing and watching fireworks and generally avoiding literary pursuits? Because July 4, 2015 was the exact anniversary of the first publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, of course!
Later in July, I got to see an Alice in Wonderland-themed musical in one of my favorite places to visit, Las Vegas! ALICE A Steampunk Concert Fantasy has bounced around several different Vegas venues. It currently has a monthly home at the Brooklyn Bowl on The Strip. I loved the costumes and amazing singing and dancing and while Alice fell down the rabbit hole into a very different kind of Wonderland, I very much enjoyed the trip.
October 2015 – Alice150 in New York City
After a quick trip to Paso Robles, California to visit an Alice in Wonderland themed wine tasting room and see my favorite Mock Turtle Ringo Starr in concert, it was off to New York for the main event of the entire year, Alice150! The City That Never Sleeps (or as I prefer to call it, The City Where Every Day Is Garbage Day) was host to a weeklong celebration of all things Alice in honor of the sesquicentennial of everybody’s favorite book*. Venues included the New York Institute of Technology, Columbia University, NYU, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Mathematics, The Grolier Club, The Morgan Library and more! Where to begin? For starters, I must admit I was not present for the entire conference- a girl’s gotta make a living, after all. So I missed what sounded like an incredible symposium at The Grolier Club on the challenges of translating wordplay-heavy Alice into different languages. I did manage to squeeze in a visit to the accompanying Alice in a World of Wonderlands exhibit at the Grolier, which was lovely.
I wasted no time upon landing at JFK on Friday, October 9. I handed my bags to my father-in-law at the airport, hopped on the AirTrain and went straight to the Morgan Library and Museum for Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland. The Morgan had a surprising number of handwritten works by Charles Dodgson, dating from his teenage years. Most importantly, there was the original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, given as a Christmas gift to little Alice Liddell in 1864. This holy grail of Alicedom, on loan from our friends across the pond, was overwhelming to see in person. Equally as moving for me were the rough drafts of John Tenniel’s illustrations, displayed side-by-side with the finished products. All in all, a top notch exhibit! I sneaked over to the Morgan’s Ernest Hemingway exhibit as well. If you have never been to the Morgan Library (I hadn’t), I highly recommend it! A true gem. After the Morgan, I walked across town to the New York Institute of Technology to watch a few Alice films, and my first Alice150 day was over.
On Saturday, the Alice150 speakers started bright and early at NYIT. The topics of the day were Alice on Stage, and Illustrating Alice. Andrew Sellon and Daniel Rover Singer gave very engaging talks on their respective plays about Lewis Carroll. The afternoon panel of international illustrators gave a clear picture of just how much Alice is loved the world over. My favorite speaker was author and Carroll scholar extraordinaire Charlie Lovett, who gave us a thorough history of Alice in Wonderland adaptations for the stage, along with some idea of what we’d be seeing at the Alice Live! exhibit at the New York Public Library Performing Arts Branch that evening. Now, I always like a party, so maybe I was influenced by the reception at the NYPL, but I think Alice Live! may have been my favorite exhibit of the entire weekend. For one thing, there was a photo booth.
For another, there was Lewis Carroll’s typewriter.
Thirdly, this girl was dressed like Alice Liddell, all ready for her fateful boat excursion up the Thames!!! (She wasn’t part of the exhibit or anything…truth be told, she’d been wearing that outfit all day, I just wanted to be sure to work in a photo of her somewhere because THE DEDICATION.)
In conclusion: frabjous!
Sunday’s events were held at the Global Spiritual Life Center at NYU. Through a bleary fog of growing fatigue, jet lag and coffee (so much coffee!), I seem to recall:
- Frank Beddor travelled downtown from Comic Con to talk about his Looking Glass Wars and Hatter Madigan books.
- Asuka Toritamari and Sinichi Kinoshita travelled from a little further to tell us about Alice’s influence in Japan.
- Linda Cassady and Abby Saunders explained The Wonderland Award scholarship.
- Hayley Rushing broke down the parallels of modern Alice movies.
- Craig Yoe and Mark Burnstein discussed Alice in comics. Craig Yoe used to be Creative Director of The Muppets! I seriously nerded out talking to him afterwards.
On a break between speakers, I managed to sneak over to the Go Ask Alice exhibit at NYU’s Bobst Library, which was small but chock full of Alice ephemera aka STUFF.
Besides the wonderful Alice in Wonderland exhibits and enlightening speakers, simply chatting with other Carrollians over the weekend was an experience in itself.I spoke to Alice enthusiasts and scholars from six continents! I am SO GLAD I got to take part in the celebration that was Alice150!
November and December 2015 – Carrollian Comedown
After the heady excitement of Alice150, it stands to reason that the rest of the year was a little light on Alice activities. I somehow missed an Alice in Wonderland exhibit at Meltdown Comics here in LA. I went as the Queen of Hearts at Halloween, because there was a freak heat wave and it was way too hot for Alice petticoats and pinafores. I received some delightful Alice in Wonderland gifts at Christmas. In November, my brother the high school guidance counselor directed a school play based on Alice in Wonderland and did not come to me for advice. I realize this has very little to do with global events celebrating the anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I just felt that this slight should not go unnoted.
What’s Ahead For 2016?
I can hardly wait! The Year of Alice150 is over, but the discussion about Alice in Wonderland is just beginning! There are Lewis Carroll Society meetings to attend, books to re-read and analyze, movies and documentaries to re-watch, and of course the new Tim Burton Through the Looking-Glass film to pick apart. Most exciting, be on the lookout for the Alice Is Everywhere podcast, launching very soon!
*Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland IS everybody’s favorite book, right??!