Alice vs. Wonderland Program: Director's Note

Director's Note

Working with young people is a very important part of my life. I am a teacher in Budapest. For over ten years, I have had a deep relationship with the A.R.T. Institute as both an artist and an educator. It has been my duty to help young actors explore who they are.

The story of Alice vs. Wonderland embodies this same idea of exploring oneself. When we premiered this show in Moscow, I saw how this story can communicate across cultures. It was not only through the music we used. The story is really universal. It is the story of a young soul exploring her identity and struggling to understand what she finds. And our ensemble, our storytellers, are young souls going through this same process of self-discovery.

I didn’t come to Cambridge with a directorial plan when we started rehearsing Alice vs. Wonderland last winter. We needed to take time to explore the Alice story; as we did this, our class of actors was gradually coalescing into a strong ensemble. They were allowed to make brave choices and allowed to fail. In this way, the class had their own story in the course of the development of this project. It was the story of how a group of individual actors became a true ensemble. I told them on the first day of rehearsal: “It’s not important that we create a good show together. All I want is to see each of you progress as actors.” On opening night in Moscow, when I finally saw these eighteen actors become a team, I felt so incredibly happy.

At our dress rehearsal for our premiere in Moscow last spring, six or seven Russian kids came into the theater and started watching the show. They knew absolutely no English. And they were moved. I was so touched to see this, having children of my own. It’s not enough to reach people of my own generation; I want to communicate with people who are twenty or thirty years younger than I am. They are from a different culture. This is what I learned from working with the Institute and with Brendan Shea on this project. I have come to understand this culture and young people so much more. And I understand Alice, finally. I realized I had the same journey as Alice when I was a teenager. Except my music was Deep Purple, not Lady Gaga.

—János Szász

János Szász
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September 10, 2010
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