Alice in Wonderland Play Guide
Alice Liddell is on a picnic outing with her sisters Lorina and Edith and her governess, Ms. Prickett, when they meet their old friend and Ms. Prickett’s would-be beau, Mr. Charles Dodgson. Bored and having nothing to do, Alice, Edith, and Mr. Dodgson play word games, recite poems, and imaginatively play in the park. After their picnic, Mr. Dodgson offers to tell the girls a story in return for a chance to take a photograph. As he begins the tale of a girl named Alice who meets a white rabbit, the real Alice sees the White Rabbit and leaves the park to follow him down a rabbit hole. She falls through the deep hole into a room with many locked doors but is drawn to a tiny door looking into a garden. As the White Rabbit appears again, he lets it slip that she has entered Wonderland, but he is running very late and exits through a larger door. Alice attempts to go through this door, but it is locked. Alice then notices a bottle of liquid labeled “drink me,” and when she follows these instructions, she shrinks until she is small enough to fit through the door, but not large enough to reach the key. She then sees a piece of cake labeled “eat me,” but instead of making her grow larger, she shrinks further and finds herself in the garden. Here, she meets an unhelpful caterpillar whose riddles and nonsense only confuse Alice further. She then meets a Duchess with a crying baby who turns into a pig and her cook, who mock and ridicule Alice’s manners. She also meets a Cheshire Cat, joins a wacky tea party with the March Hare, Mad Hatter, and Dormouse, and finds herself serving on the jury of a trial against cards who stole the tarts from the Queen of Hearts. After many of the Wonderland creatures appear as witnesses, Alice herself is called to the stand. She upsets the Queen and is banished from the court. The chaos that ensues causes Alice to realize they are just a pack of cards, and suddenly she finds herself back at the park where Mr. Dodgson is finishing the story. The story and her adventure in Wonderland make Alice insist that Mr. Dodgson write the story down, so that other children’s imaginations can be sparked as well.
(C.3.2, C.4.2 , C.5.2)
Nonsense is a reoccurring topic in Wonderland. Alice falls through a rabbit hole and ends up in a completely new world. To get your students ready to see Alice in Wonderland, prepare them for nonsense by making a few new rules in your classroom. With your students, come up with some ridiculous rules that they must follow for the rest of the day. You could have to spin around three times before you sit down or do jumping jacks anytime someone says, “spelling.” The sillier the better – after all, it’s supposed to be nonsense! At the end of the day, ask the students to imagine what it would be like to have to follow rules like this every day. Ask them to write a personal narrative about their nonsense day.
(VA:Cr2.1.3, VA:Cr2.1.4, VA:Cr2.1.5)
Mr. Dodson drew illustrations of his stories for Alice. Have your students add some pictures to their version of the story.
Charles Dodgson and the Real Alice Liddell
On July 4, 1862, a ten-year-old girl named Alice Liddell and her sisters Edith and Lorina were traveling in a rowboat on the Thames River in England on their way to a picnic. A family friend named Charles Dodgson was with the girls, and they asked him to tell them a story as they rowed. Mr. Dodgson was a very good storyteller and had told the Liddell sisters many wonderful stories before, but the difference with this story was that, after hearing it, Alice asked him to write it down. Mr. Dodgson told fantastic stories of a girl named Alice and her adventures after she fell through a rabbit-hole. Alice’s Christmas present in 1864 was a handwritten copy of the story, with a few additions and illustrations by Mr. Dodgson. Charles Dodgson wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland under the pseudonym, Lewis Carroll.
Alice Liddell grew up in Oxford, England, and at 4 years-old, she met Charles Dodgson while he was taking pictures of Christ Church, the school where her father was Dean. Mr. Dodgson was a math teacher, a photographer, a reverend, an artist, a poet and a storyteller. He loved entertaining children with his stories, puzzles, word games and riddles. He grew to be great friends with Alice and the other Liddell children. Charles Dodgson went on to write many other books, including a sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland called Through the Looking-Glass, The Hunting of the Snark, a fantastic story written in verse, and several other children’s books under his pen name, Lewis Carroll. He also published many volumes on mathematics as Charles Dodgson. He was a very private man and did not enjoy being a famous author. Mr. Dodgson lived and taught in Oxford at Christ Church until his death in 1898.
When Alice was a young woman, she set out on a grand tour of Europe with her sisters, Lorina and Edith. She met Prince Leopold of England while he was studying at Christ’s Church and they fell in love. Unfortunately, the Prince had to marry a princess, but they named their first child Alice. Later, she married Reginald Hargreaves and had three sons. Throughout her life, Alice enjoyed painting, singing, reading, and word games. After her husband died, Alice sold her handwritten copy of Alice in Wonderland that Charles Dodgson had given her. When she was eighty years old, she traveled to the United States to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s (Charles Dodgson) birth. While she was there, she received an honorary degree from Columbia University. Two years later, Alice Liddell Hargreaves died.
Post Show Activities
School as Wonderland
(C.3.3, C.4.3, C.5.3, TH:Cr2.1.4, TH:Cr2.1.5)
Imagine that an adventurous youth from another world happens to fall into the main office in your school. Write a skit that shows which people and activities in your school would seem frightening, bizarre, or silly to such an adventurer, like Wonderland does to Alice.
Introduce the elements of playwriting — dialogue and staging (including movements, props, and costumes). Once the plays are written, have the students switch scripts and perform another group’s work.
Wonderland Rule Poem
(C.3.3, C.4.3, C.5.3)
Rules are very important in Alice’s world and in the world of Wonderland. Ms. Prickett’s rules for the girls in the park are clear, but in Wonderland it seems the Queen of Hearts changes rules as she pleases. If you were in charge of your own world, what rules would you institute? Using this template, create a rule poem to help your subjects memorize your laws.
First, you must always…
Next, you must never…
If __ then you must…
Suggested Reading List
“Jabberwocky” is a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll about the killing of a creature named “the Jabberwock.” It was included in his 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865). The book tells of Alice’s adventures within the back-to-front world of Looking-Glass Land.
In an early scene in which she first encounters the chess piece characters White King and White Queen, Alice finds a book written in a seemingly unintelligible language. Realizing that she is traveling through an inverted world, she recognizes that the verses on the pages are written in mirror-writing. She holds a mirror to one of the poems and reads the reflected verse of “Jabberwocky.” She finds the nonsense verse as puzzling as the odd land she has passed into, later revealed as a dreamscape.
“Jabberwocky” is considered one of the greatest nonsense poems written in English. Its playful, whimsical language has given English nonsense words and neologisms such as “galumphing” and “chortle” (Wikipedia).
This 1872 sequel to Lewis Carroll’s beloved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland finds the inquisitive heroine in a fantastic land where everything is reversed. Looking-glass Land, a topsy-turvy world lurking just behind the mirror over Alice’s mantel, is a fantastic realm of live chessmen, madcap kings and queens, strange mythological creatures, talking flowers and puddings, and rude insects.
Brooks and hedges divide the lush greenery of looking-glass land into a chessboard, where Alice becomes a pawn in a bizarre game of chess involving Humpty Dumpty, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Lion and the Unicorn, the White Knight, and other nursery-rhyme figures. Promised a crown when she reaches the eighth square, Alice perseveres through a surreal landscape of amusing characters that pelt her with riddles and humorous semantic quibbles and regale her with memorable poetry, including the oft-quoted “Jabberwocky.”
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is Robert Sabuda’s most amazing creation ever, featuring stunning pop-ups illustrated in John Tenniel’s classic style. The text is faithful to Lewis Carroll’s original story, and special effects like a Victorian peep show, multifaceted foil, and tactile elements make this a pop-up to read and admire again and again.
KIDDLE is an online encyclopedia for kids. Use the link above to learn more about Lewis Carroll, a.k.a. Charles Dodgson, through text and images.
Read poems by Lewis Carroll from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and other works.