Take a look at me now
Theatre department’s Lookingglass combines realism, surrealism, and Lewis Carroll
April 3 – 5
Free for students
“This play is really complicated, especially to talk about,” said Katie Moore, one of the actresses in the theatre department’s final production of the year Lookingglass.
With a comment like that, you’d think the rest of the interview would have been short and fruitless, but Moore nonetheless was able to divulge some insight into the graduating class’ final performance at the University of Regina.
Fans of Lewis Carroll may have already picked up on this, but for those that haven’t, the title is, as Moore said, “obviously a reference to Alice in Wonderland.” However, Lookingglass is by no means a recreation of Carroll’s 1865 story.
“It’s about this young girl named Alice and how her family, specifically her three aunts, try to help her cope with a tragic accident that just happened to her,” Moore said. “In the first act you get some bits, pieces, and quotes from Alice in Wonderland, and then in the second act the play goes into Alice’s mind. It’s all about gardens, and there’s a tea party, and more large and spectacular references.”
The production’s title has thematic significance as well and has more substance than a simple allusion.
“There’s constantly this theme of not looking and what it means to not look,” Moore said. “That really ties into the title. It’s about Alice’s journey, but a lot of the time we ask Alice, ‘Are you looking?’ or say, ‘You’re not looking.’”
While there are many references to the original work in Lookingglass, Moore said it is still a very different production from Alice in Wonderland.
“It differs quite a lot,” he said. “This play takes references and words and the magicalness of Alice in Wonderland, but in our play there’s a dark twist to it.”
This darkness isn’t all melancholy and gloom, though. Moore said the darkness of Lookingglass is tied very closely to the comedic and humourous aspects of the play.
“I think audiences can expect humour, but dark humour,” Moore said. “Kelly Jo Burke [MFA candidate and creator of the play] has really made a great balance of dealing with this tragic incident, but having these super hilarious parts ready where all the sisters are at each other’s throats. It’s this great balancing act of humour and seriousness.”
Because giving everyone in the audience LSD would likely bring some legal repercussions upon the university, Lookingglass utilizes projection screens in the production to help immerse the audience in the surrealism of the setting.
“We do have some projection screens that will be scattered around the stage. On those screens, you’ll see images of gardens and things like that, so that ties into the second act where you’re in the garden in her mind,” Moore said. “The first act is, in reality, in the aunt’s world. You don’t get to really see what’s going on in Alice’s mind.”
The screens not only help establish the external setting, though; they also help exhibit the internal setting of Alice’s mind and other elements of the story that are not dramatized onstage.
“The screens help the audience guide through Alice’s mind. She’s the main character and the reason why all the other characters are there, and the first half she really doesn’t talk much. When she does talk, she quotes and just says words, “Moore said. “The screens really help you get into her mind. Even in the second half, you get to have a glimpse of the accident and the tragedy that happened. It really helps tie in the loose elements of the story that you don’t get to see on stage.”
The setting of Lookingglass may be incredibly detailed, but the characters admittedly lack dynamic. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that the characters cannot be interesting or engaging and, despite characters being flat or stock in true Victorian fashion, characterization and character interactions play a large role in the production.
“Every character is so dramatically different from the others,” Moore said.
"Kelly Jo Burke is using archetypes with each character. There’s the really organized business woman, the earthly hippie who’s trying to save the world, and the train wreck, alcoholic junkie.”
While Moore is excited for the upcoming performances, the fourth-year acting student retains a sense of nostalgia heading into her final performance with her other graduating classmates.
“Our very first show that we did was in the Shu-Box, and it was with all of us,” Moore said. “It’s nice to be graduating in the same stage.”
Moreover, Moore hopes she’ll be an aide to the production’s creator.
“I hope being in this play will really help Kelly Jo Burke, because she wrote the play, and it’s still a work in progress. I hope this will help her in her writing. It helps to see your work being produced instead of writing and rewriting all the time,” Moore said. “Also, this play is something that usually doesn’t get done at the U of R. It’s something new, something exciting, and very different compared to all the other plays that have been performed this season. I really hope it will be a new theatre experience for everyone to discover.”