Alicia in Arroyoland

by R.P. Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 at 8:44 PM

Guided by the spirit of Toypurina (who led a revolt against the San Gabriel Mission in 1785) and following the White Rabbit, Alicia leaves modern-day Highland Park and explores Arroyoland. This land is both an interpretation of Lewis Carroll's fantasy world and the Arroyo Seco of yesteryear.

Alicia in Arroyoland...
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(Pictured above: the spirit of Toypurina speaks to Alicia.)

Debs Park in Northeast L.A. recently hosted a free bilingual play, Alicia in Arroyoland. The production was performed outdoors, and the audience followed it around as the characters traveled on hiking trails. In-turn, a small group of musicians followed the crowd; thus, enchanting music accompanied people as they journeyed about.

During Alicia's adventures, she befriends Charles Lummis, a local hero known for the Lummis House and Southwest Museum*. He's a good and helpful companion, albeit, near the play's end, Toypurina makes a point of telling him, "you mistreated my people in the name of progress."

There are plenty more political references and social commentaries. Humpty Dumpty looks and behaves like Donald Trump sitting on his wall. At another point, Bill the Lizard comes out as gay.

Alice in Wonderland lends itself well to diverse interpretations, including ethnic perspectives, as this play reinforced. In the last century, movie interpretations alone have ranged from the wild and bizarre Czechoslovakian Alice (1988), to Tim Burton's somewhat less weird Alice in Wonderland (2010), to the more straightforward Paramount version (1933). Perhaps someday there will also be a Black version of "Alice." For many decades, Sid & Marty Krofft endeavored to make such a version (see: http://rossplesset.webs.com/apps/blog/), and may still be pursuing it.

Alicia in Arroyoland also brings to mind an All in the Family special circa the mid-'70s where Archie dreams of a Wonderland populated by characters resembling himself who torment him and ultimately put him on trial.

And that's just film and television. So many book illustrators have interpreted Carroll's world...

Written by Ralph Waxman. Directed by Guillermo Aviles-Rodriguez. Produced by Margaret Arnold, Marrita De La Torre, Ralph waxman, and Guillermo Aviles-Rodriguez.

Cast (partial): Ava Miller (Alicia), Marita De La Torre (Toypurina), Heather Flores (the Queen and Humpty), Rosa Navarrete (Lorna and Bill the Lizard), Will Rian (Charles Lummis), Alejandro Joseph/Steven Martinez Chavez (White Rabbit), Cooper Bates (Caterpillar and Mad Hatter).

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*When Alicia remarks that the museum is hardly ever open anymore, he seems unhappy.