Theatre from the cracks in the psyche of culture
Alice Is Missing
Alice disappears into the Internet and the past while searching a web site created by a surviver of World War Two who lost his girl friend in a bombing raid. The play references Alice In Wonderland. However it is more concerned with children and society where society betrays them. The play features historical references to Hitler's Youth and The Jungmadel.
Sections of the text may be workshopped by the group for their own input.
Cast: Minimum of 12 and up to 25 male and female.
first performed by The Daramalan Theatre Company at The Belconnen Community Theatre in March 2001
LIGHTS UP on Alice
She is little more than a silhouette in the darkness. Terrible shapes dangle above and around her. Light seems to emanate from her body, texturing the darkness. She is not alone.
Nothing answers. She focuses her attention on an angular object. She approaches. Cloth covers the object. She removes it slowly. It is human shape at a computer. Still hands are rested on the computer keyboard. She reaches out and touches the human shape discovering it is a rag doll that looks like a girl. When she touches it, it sinks into the chair. A small object drops to the ground. The doll's head is now back. Alice steps back, shocked. She realises it looks like her, and is dressed like her. Alice is frightened. Then curious. She touches the doll again. She looks at the floor and sees her glasses the doll dropped.
Alice: My glasses!
LIGHTS PARTIALLY UP to reveal others.
She is not alone. All the shadows start typing furiously reading the words out loud. They are saying something familiar. She picks up the doll carefully placing it on the floor in a cup like shadow. She switches on the computer. She begins typing violently. She nervously smiles at the shapes. Suddenly the doll starts moving. It starts to dance raising both hands. Alice screams.
SPOT LIGHT UP on Shirley Stigwood
Shirley: Last week I saw two interesting performances by student actors. The first, Alice's Looking Glass, teetered on the edge of a fantastical world of fairies, talking animals and weird happenings. The second, My Germany, plunged into the bizarre, but not unbelievable happenings during the second world war. Parents were advised that children under the age of 12 should see the program only with parental guidance. The first play, Alice's Looking Glass, could confuse young children who often have difficulty in distinguishing between real happenings from fantasy.
Images from each play appear on the screens. The sound of typing gradually becomes audible and continues to build. Credits for the play begin to appear on the screens.
Shirley: The other play, My Germany, deals with some frightening topics, but it does not impinge so vividly on the imagination. I'd advise parents to explain to young children that what happens on stage, is on stage and that it finishes there. Both productions used theatre skills to explore the boundaries of experience.
SPOT LIGHT UP on Alice
Alice: I want to be Alice.
Alice 2: I want to be Alice.
Alice 3: I want to be Alice.
Alice 4: I want to be Alice.
LIGHTS UP on Ms. Alhart.
Ms. Alhart: Now children, we can't all be Alice. There are lots of interesting characters: enough for everyone!
Alice: Ms. Alhart, my name is Alice ... my real name is Alice. So I should play Alice.
Ms. Alhart: But this is a play. Your real name doesn't matter. Now, Alice Crompton, you will be playing a character. It's a character. It's not you! It's a character! It's not real ...
LIGHTS FADE on Ms. Alhart and the girls.
SPOT LIGHTS up on Hans Gruber and Helga Gruber. They are drinking from wine glasses. The sound of typing continues to increase.
Helga: Alice spends too much time on your site. She is still a little girl. I don't think her mother would approve.
Hans: My web site contains only the truth.
Helga: Hans ...
Hans: Helga, you write your children's books. They are beautifully fantastic. Fantasy is wonderful. My site is reality. It is my life.
Helga: Your obsession. Elise Korht died nearly sixty years ago. Sometimes I wonder if you accept that.
Hans: Being the Clinical Psychologist with me, Helga?
Helga shakes her head.
Hans: I am an old man. You are so much younger. Your world never devoured you. The Nazis devoured our youth and vomited us into a very forgetful present. So if Alice wants to visit My Germany, then she is old enough to understand the difference between the fantasy of The Looking Glass world and the reality of ...
Helga: A morbid fascination! (PAUSE) Her mother told me she spends all her time on the Internet.
Hans: Most of it in Chat Rooms ... Ever since the school play: she's been logging into The Looking Glass with all those weirdoes pretending to be rabbits and whatever!
LIGHTS UP SLOWLY on the Chat Room with Alice figures as Hans speaks. They are all typing madly.
Hans: Have you ever been into a chat room? It is all very serious. I wonder who really is behind those fingers pressing the keyboards using pseudonyms to conceal their real identities?
LIGHTS PARTIALLY FADE on Hans and Helga leaving them like silhouettes.
The Chat Room figures are typing and reading aloud their dialogue as it appears on the screens and around them. Hans and Helga peer into Hans' computer.
Another screen shows Alice Crompton at her computer.
Enter Mark and Jan Supper and Jenni Crompton and her son Stan. Credits continue. Images of Alice on the computer continue. Her image is inter CUT with the computer screen and her fingers typing.
Jenni: We'll show Sydney how to see in the new millennium!
Jan: Jenni: it will be bigger than the Titanic!
Mark: "Bigger than the Titanic?"
Jan: Well! The Titanic was big!
Mark: Darling: It sunk, remember!
Stan: The band is setting up now.
Mark: You playing?
Stan: Just roadying tonight.
Jan: I like the name: Bloopers! It's kinda ... funny!
Stan: They'll be playing just in front of the big screen displaying the Sydney fireworks and stuff! They'll look great.
Jenni: You've both gone to so much trouble. We are all so tied up with our own lives that we have no sense of community. I think you both are just terrific!
Stan: Mum, where's Alice?
Jenni: She's on the computer.
Stan: She's always on the computer.
Jenni: I told her she has to get off tonight.
Stan: She won't ...
Jan: Kids today! They're computer mad!
The Chat Room becomes very loud. The Alice Figures type and recite lines from Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass.
Sample text from flashback scenes
Elise stands upstage behind the bodies.
LIGHTS UP on Old Hans and Helga. Hans rises. During his speech, he moves towards Centre Stage.
Hans: I carried the body of a child for burial. At that moment, I could not love. I was numbed to all feelings. The horror all around us was no longer horrific. Rather it was surreal. I felt absurd and temporary: as if I was a mere player in a nightmare. I left Elise standing alone amongst the dead: certain in my belief that we would soon join them.
Helga: They never left you. (She remains still)
Hans steps into Centre Stage amongst the bodies. He becomes transfixed as if a statue. The bodies become like vines and begin to take root in the ground and start to grow. As he stands, they twine and twist around him. They gradually attach themselves to him and move him until he is lifted off the ground and thrust about the space as the vines become like tentacles of a giant octopus. He is finally lumped like a giant puppet into centre stage. The octopus tentacles become more like faces emerging from his body into a still shape.
Enter Members of Hitler Youth and The League Of German Girls with Greta. They lead her into the space.
Greta: It's not true. You must believe me. It's not true.
Ilse: You think you can deceive your peers for ever?
Greta: No! You are mistaken.
Ilse: You lied on your forms. You lied to us.
Elise Korht steps into the scene.
Elise: Ilse, what is happening?
Ilse: Greta has been aiding the enemy of the state. She is of Jewish stock. She should have been wearing the Yellow Star.
Greta: Elise, tell them I am a good leader. Tell them I am faithful to the Fuehrer.
Elise: Ilse! I am the district leader. Why wasn't this brought to my attention?
Ilse: I am sorry. But Greta Reinhardt is your friend. She must be taken to Gestapo headquarters.
Greta: Tell them how I have fought the Jews. They brought suffering on my family when I was a child and my mother worked in one of their factories. Tell them Elise.
Ilse: Take her.
The masked figures suddenly break from behind Old Hans.
Elise: There has been a mistake. Greta is a loyal member of the Party.
Ilse: She is a traitor. A spy.
Greta: No. You must stop this madness.
Ilse: Take her.
The others grab her. She struggles.
Enter Hans at a distance.
Greta: I'll be shot. Elise, you are a leader. You know this isn't true.
Elise: Ilse, it's not up to you to have her accused. I am the district leader ...
Wolf: (Intervening) This is a matter for the Gestapo.
Greta: Wolf, you know me. You have always known me.
Wolf: You deceived all of us.
Ilse: And to think we all trusted you.
Greta: No! What have I done?
Elise: Wolf, you were her friend.
Greta: (Breaking down) I was the first to join the Jungmadel. My parents contributed to the party before anyone in our street. I denounced anyone I knew to be a Jew ... As directed by Fuehrer!
Elise: That is true.
Ilse: Stay out of this Elise. She is in our hands.
Greta: I was beaten by Jewish thugs when I was a child because my father opposed his Jewish bosses.
Elise: You must release her. On my orders. Her family has written exemption ...
Wolf: So you know about her? You knew of her Jewish mother?
Greta: Grand mother ...
Elise: Herr Hess himself signed the papers. Her family is exempt from any ...
Wolf: That traitor! Take her.
They try to take her away. Elise physically stops them.
Hans rushes up to Elise.
Greta: Tell them Elise. Stop them.
Elise: This is absurd. Greta is a patriot.
Greta: I am first amongst you. I am one of YOU. Don't do this to me.
Masked figures, and Hans, physically restrain Elise as Greta is led out by goose stepping figures. Greta struggles all the way. Her screams can be heard in the distance. Elise is released. The others exit.
Old Hans: (Breaking from his sculpture) I wish I could have held you when you reached out your hand to me. Caught in the sludge of history, we couldn't extricate ourselves from the slime. I am sorry Elise ...
Old Hans reaches out to touch Elise and then peers into his younger self. He then walks back to his computer. Alice steps forward. Elise and Hans walk past her: not seeing anyone.
LIGHTS CROSS FADE.
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