This week, justArts spoke with Gabe Walker ’19 and Tres Fimmano ’18 who created the performance of “Alice and Wonderland.”

justArts: Why did you choose “Alice in Wonderland?”

Gabe Walker: I started doing theater back in fifth grade, when I played the Mad Hatter in my elementary school’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.” For the past few years, I’ve contemplated the idea of revisiting the show, so when Tres suggested the two of us work on it together I couldn’t have been more excited …“Alice” became a passion project not only for us, but for the many actors, designers and directors who all love the show as much as we do.

Tres Fimmano: I’ve spent years trying to think about different ways to do “Alice in Wonderland.” What’s so great about the source material is that it’s inspired so much diverse art and theater over the years and that kind of show allows someone working on it to add to a lot of great history ... I like to think that’s something we highlighted in this production.

JA: Explain how you came to the decision to have Alice lead the audience, rather than a traditional presentation of Alice.

GW: “Alice in Wonderland” tells the story of a little girl who is transported to a world entirely unfamiliar from her own, which she is forced to unravel and explore. Tres and I asked ourselves: what would happen if we took the idea of exploration and expanded it to the audience? What if the audience not only got to watch Alice explore her new world, but was also allowed to participate in its discovery?

TF: Part of the reason was along the lines of what Gabe was saying; this material here almosts asks for the audience to experience Wonderland the way Alice does. Another reason we wanted to do it like this was because it was something new for us and [we] knew that a challenge this big would allow for a lot of surprises and impactful moments.

JA: What was it like using Shiffman?

TF: I don’t think I’m ever going to feel the same in Shiffman again. We originally planned on moving out a lot of the furniture and signs in there, but once we had the lights out and the actors walking around, I love the idea of maintaining the original look of the space. It allowed us to have this “ghost of Shiffman” (as I called it) vibe that added to the theme of Alice being a Brandeis student.

JA: What was the most rewarding part of directing the show?

GW: Actually, one of the most rewarding aspects stemmed from the fact that we did not direct the show. While each of us directed a scene, we had a team of five insanely talented directors ... who each took on a scene of their own. Watching all of our work come together ... with each scene highlighting the different strengths of each director was incredibly fulfilling.

JA: How was this experience directing more or less challenging than directing a traditional show?

TF: I’ve always been nervous about doing something too radical on stage but this time around I wanted to make sure we were getting audience reactions and creating something memorable ... [and] bigger than that was also the amount of collaboration that went into the scene work. A good amount of the material in [what] I directed was made up of ideas that the actors ... threw in. [They’d] ask if it were OK to throw in new things and I tried to say “yes” as much as possible.

—Hannah Kressel