The Dream Child
Written by: Jory Stultz
Based on characters from Lewis Carol’s: Alice in Wonderland
And Alice Through the Looking Glass
Set dimly lights up as two men in white shirts are dragging a screaming girl toward a room. They struggle but finally manage to get her into the room and the door shut. A woman follows behind them with a file of papers beneath one arm.
Reese: Thank you gentlemen for assisting me in Alice’s Transfer. Now, I’ve gone over it with the doctor but just to be safe I aught to tell the both of you… There are some precautions you must take while dealing with this child. Alice must be given special treatment; she’s potentially dangerous.
Guard1: And how so mam?
Reese: She’s coping with what we call a minds-eye-delusion that began, we believe, with the loss of her parents. This illness causes her to go into sporadic fits of rage and there of course she’s completely unstable. (Pauses)
Gaurd2: Anything else?
Reese: She is permitted to daily lobby time. We’ve found she gives us better results after being around social groups. Her illness also causes her to drift in and out of reality. Reality of course is our being aware of her ability to rationalize with the world around her and her other world I’m afraid, we can’t reach her there. She’s completely comatose at these times… Keep a sharp eye on her gentleman. If she blacks out… Who knows how she’ll be when she comes to…?
Guard2: We’ll take necessary precaution mam. Thank you much for your help.
Gaurd1: Yes thank you. We’ll make sure to keep a close watch.
Reese: Please don’t take what I say lightly.
Guard1: We run a tight facility here mam. Until she is transferred Alice is safe with us.
Reese: Good then… Thank you both. I must get going. I will be back to take progress reports on her weekly. Good luck gentlemen.
The main set fades to black and the small room at the front of the stage lights up. Alice sits on her bed scratching at her wrists and staring at the floor.
Alice: The mirror holds another world for young and curious boys and girls. Sometimes the glass can cut you deep and slowly, but surely the blood will creep. Yet somewhere where you cannot see, the wound is flesh it cannot be.
As riddles come and laughter goes, somewhere beyond the blood still flows.
Set fades to black.
The stage is alive with a room filled with people. Some sit and stare out the window and others socialize with each other among the crowd. Alice is still in her room sitting on her bed. Two guards make there way across the lobby to her room and awake Alice. She is quite stable, almost normal.
Gaurd1: Come on now, you’re permitted lobby time.
They pull her by her shoulders out into the lobby where a rather eccentric looking man meets them.
Hatter: Can I give her the tour? Oh c’mon handsome!
Gaurd1: This is Gauge. He calls himself-
Hatter: A gauge is an assessment. I’m afraid I know hats and not ASS-essments.
Gaurd1: He used to be a hat fitter, but this is where he ended up… It happens to the best of us…
Hatter: So can I give her the ten-cent tour?
Gaurd2: Oh, alright, but keep your equal distance… Got it buddy?
Hatter: Oh of course, yes.
Hatter pulls Alice along to show her the lobby.
Hatter: I’m Hatter by the way, not Gauge.
Alice: No of course you’re not Gauge. What a horrible name. I must say I do rather like the name Hatter… It’s much more… fitting.
Hatter: (Laughs between his teeth.) Oh… You tell jokes?
Alice: And rhymes and stories… It depends on my mood I suppose.
Hatter: And what’s your mood now?
Alice: Like a great weight has been lifted from me.
Hatter: Good, I do mean great, really... Around here, people should go without pressure.
He leads her to a table where an old Russian man sits and reads a paper.
Hatter: This is the old general. He’s a true veteran he’s been here for thirty years! Yeah that’s a long time and get this… supposedly ever since he got here he’s been reading the same newspaper. Not just the same newspaper the same article, they say it’s the reason he’s here in the first place.
Alice: Well… Not very open minded is he?
Hatter: I wouldn’t say so… Another thing you should know about him is that he cannot be bothered.
Alice: Why what will he do?
Hatter: Nothing… That’s just it… You can’t bother him.
Alice: Oh, right. (Giggles.)
Hatter: Watch this. (Slams his hand on the table and gets in the old generals face and yells.) Can you here me? Hello? Hellooo? (Turns back to Alice.) See, he cannot be bothered.
Alice: (Laughs) Yes I do see. This is much better then the place I stayed last time. The people there had nothing interesting to say at all. Now, that reminds me of something I was taught… If you haven’t anything interesting to say then don’t say anything at all.
Hatter: But anything you say should be interesting to at least one person in the world, so really it’s not about finding the right words to say, it’s about finding the right person to listen.
Alice: I suppose you’re right… Please do continue your tour. I’m sorry to interrupt.
Hatter: It’s quite all right, really. Just come along this way. (Leads her to a small home made puppet-show stage in the back of the room where one man sits on the floor while another does a puppet show.) These are the twins. They do puppet shows a lot during lobby time. I’ve seen em before. They’re usually morbidly depressing but brilliant.
The one behind the screen speaks using the puppet.
Tweedle-dee: Hatter won’t you stay for my show?
Tweedle-dum: If you do make sure you bring tomatoes to throw! (Laughs)
Hatter: I would, but I’m giving Alice here the tour.
Tweedle-dee: You’ll stay won’t you girl?
Tweedle-dum: The ending act will make you hurl! (His brother urges him to stop.)
Alice: It does sound quite entertaining, but I really would like to meet everyone first.
Tweedle-dee: All right then. Whenever you get the time… My new act is inspiring! (Tweedle-dum begins to say, “You really should think of retiring…” and is stopped before he even finishes.)
Not another word…
Hatter leads Alice away from the twins and over to a man who sits staring out the window with a big smile on his face.
Hatter: Cheshire Robinson… Ironic he should be such a happy looking chap… You see, a long time ago Cheshire here butchered his wife and child in the midst of a cold November night. The murders became nationally renowned and eventually a book was written about it and he’s since been a legend
Alice: My God…
Hatter: And get this… He claims that a week before the murders he was visited in his sleep by a surreal cathead that told him to murder his family. The claim was so bizarre that they threw him in here. He says that he hasn’t seen the cathead since the night of the killings, but the way he smiles out that window… Sometimes I just don’t know how safe I feel.
Alice: I know the feeling.
Hatter: You’ve met everyone here but the ladies. That’s a good thing though. You do not want to converse with that sort.
Alice: And what sort is that?
Hatter: The shallow… The materialistic… You see, the ladies over there... they judge you on what they see on the outside and on the outside only. Sad but true, luckily in here there are only a few. (Giggles) I rhymed.
Alice: Seems to happen a lot around here… Now that I’m looking at them they do seem like a rude sort.
Hatter: Most definitely. Anyway... That's about it... Wait! I can't believe I almost forgot! There's someone you simply must meet.
Alice: All right.
Hatter: Right this way. (Pulls her arm and guides her to a man sitting at a chess table.)
This is my good friend and chess partner, March Hare. (He nods his head.)
And this is Alice. She's a newby here. I'm just showing her around.
Alice: It's a pleasure to meet you Mr. Hare.
Hare: And it's a pleasure to meet you MISS Alice. Won't you sit down for a spot of tea?
Alice: It sounds so lovely, really it does, but I've already told someone else I would attend their show this evening. I would do both, but I'm afraid I haven't much time left.
Hare: Oh nonsense there's always time for tea.
Alice: I really am sorry. I must get going. Hatter, are you coming?
Hatter: No I think I'll stay for some tea and chess.
Hare: A royal idea!
Alice: Alright then... Thank you very much for the tour!
Hatter: You're very welcome Alice...
Hare: Enjoy your show Miss Alice.
Alice: Oh, I will... Good-bye!
(Alice looks at the clock and notices she is short on time and runs toward the right of the stage where the twins are. She slips and falls on the ground. When she hits, all the lights go out for a few seconds and then dim red lights light the stage. She picks herself up and starts walking holding her head. When she arrives at the twins one of them is laying face down on the ground and the other is kneeled over him.)
Alice: Hi... I'm here for the show.
Tweedle-dee: Go away little girl...
Alice: I'm Alice, rememb-?
Tweedle-dee: Shut your mouth little girl and leave me alone!
Alice: Oh I'm sor-
Tweedle-dee: Didn't I tell you to shut up and get out of here?!
(Alice runs back to the chess table where she finds Hatter and Hare, but they've completely changed.
Hatter wears a huge top hat and a long purple jacket and the Hare actually became a rabbit.)
Alice: The twins... I think something's wrong... One of them looks almost... Dead... (No one says anything.)
Can't you hear me?
Hatter turns while drinking his tea and looks at Alice with crazed eyes.
Hatter: Oh, there you are… The queen is looking for you Alice.
Alice’s eyes grow wide.
Alice: No… She can't be.
Hatter: She doesn't like you very much.
Hare: If she finds you she'll chop off your head.
Alice: The queen is dead! I killed her myself!
Hare: You can't kill the queen little Alice...
Hatter: She'll always be alive as long as you're still alive...
Here...(Holds out a knife.) Take this... The only way to escape the queen is to end your life.
(Alice looks at the blade.) Go on... Do it before she finds you...
Alice: But what if she does kill me? She'll die too then.
Hatter: She's a nightmare in your head and not the other way around.
Alice: What do I do? (Whispers to herself.)
Hare: Put the knife into your heart. It will end all of your suffering.
Hatter: All your feelings of emptiness will be gone... Go on...
Hare: Go ahead.
They continue to coax her- She holds the blade high in the air and thrusts it downward toward her chest.
Before the tip of the blade hits the lights go out, (only for a few seconds again.) When they come back on Alice is lying on the ground being aided by Marsh Hare and Hatter along with two guards in white clothes.
Hatter: Are you okay Alice? Alice wakeup! (Alice’s eyes open.) Oh thank heavens she's awake.
Alice, are you all right?
Alice: I... I think so... Everything just went...
Alice: Yes, like I was swallowed by a nightmare.
Hatter: It's just good to see you're doing fine now.
Alice: I'm all right, thank you.
A bell rings and the guards stand up.
Guard1: Okay everyone get to your assigned halls its cell time. Make a single file line people (Everyone walks out of the room in a line. As they leave guard2 hands a pill to each patient. ). Good job. Free pills on the way out… Can’t bitch about that.
Alice stands in the middle of the room, still a little dizzy, holding her head with one hand.
Alice: The queen… It’s been so long… This can’t be happening again…
Man1: Come on… Lets get in our cell.
He leads Alice into her cell and she slams the door. She lies down on her bed, pulls out a journal, and begins writing in it with a crayon.
Alice (V.O.): Everyone here is quite interesting… I made a few new friends and was wisely advised not to associate with the egotistical bunch… I met a boy today… He’s quite friendly, a little wacky, but very fun… (She smiles.) And not to mention very cute. He’ll definitely be in my dreams tonight… If I do dream… I hope so.
She smiles as she puts the notebook away and cuddles up on the uncomfortable little bed. The set dims, as she falls asleep, to complete darkness.
The sound of a beautiful grand piano resonates through the theatre. The set is intimately lit with blue lights and gray mist. The lobby is empty except for a piano and the dark outline of a man playing it. An open window is to his left and moonlight pours in onto the floor. Alice hears the music, gets out of bed and goes to the door. When she goes to peek through the window the door opens.
Alice: This must be a dream…
She pushes it all the way open and heads out into the lobby. The pianist stops playing and turns to look at Alice. It is hatter.
Alice: That was beautiful…I didn’t know you played.
Hatter: I do… So tell me Alice… Is your dream worth dreaming tonight?
Alice: I suppose it is… I’d say so. You’re here. I was hoping you would be.
Hatter: You wanted to see me?
Alice: Sure I did.
Hatter: Because I’m very cute?
Alice: How did you know what I-(Hatter looks at her with a smile.) I forgot this is my dream. So how much do you know?
Hatter: Everything you know.
Alice: That’s not too much.
Hatter: Sure it is… Quite so… You have a spectacular mind.
(Alice shrugs but smiles.) I know that you’ve thought of me naked.
Alice’s face turns red and her mouth opens in surprise.
Alice: I have not!
Hatter: It’s okay I happen to find that very flattering.
Alice: You know, as flattering as you find it, I have never thought of you in the nude.
Hatter: I’m sure you haven’t. (Smiles.)
I’ve been working on a piece… Would you like to hear it?
Alice: I would love to.
Hatter turns around and begins playing the song. Eight measures of a dreary crescendo build up to an exploding climax of piano and strings. Wind blows open the window and lightening strikes outside. Alice dances along with the music and toward the end she collapses on the floor. Hatter rushes to her aid. The set fades to black.
(Alice’s screams echo in the darkness. Before the lights come back on we hear two people talking. It is Dr. Reese and the ward administrator.)
Admin: I’m sorry I called you down here so late, but it looked serious.
Reese: She seems fine now.
Admin: This has been her third violent episode in the last week… And like I said… It’s only when she sleeps…
The lights turn on, but are very dim. Reese’s face looks apprehensive.
Reese: Did she mention anything about a red queen?
Admin: No… Does that have some sort of significance?
Reese: The red queen was an almost schizophrenic projection of Alice’s guilt. She created her because she felt as thought she should be punished for not doing anything to save her parents.
Reese: She used to throw fits in bed six years ago, much like the ones you’re describing tonight. She would scream relentlessly… About the most bizarre things… She created a dream sanctuary to help her cope with her parents demise.
An alter reality that only existed to her when in a dream state. (Pauses) She called it her wonderland… This is where she would find her salvation. Here, she believed, she would find closure.
Admin: (Sighs) So what do you suggest we do with her?
Reese: I think serious measures are in order… I’m not taking any more chances with this one…
Reese stares at the administrator with blank eyes.
The set fades to black.
Narrator: Alice spent many days and many nights suffering through the same routine. Her lobby time was cut in half due to her episodes in her sleep. The doctor wanted her under constant monitoring and so she was… For six days Alice endured a series of unorthodox medical exams with only a short amount of rest. The days she did participate in lobby time she was too drugged up and worn out to associate with anyone… Including Hatter, who grew very concerned with Alice’s lack of sleep and nutrition. He knew they would use her till she didn’t have the strength to breathe, but there was absolutely nothing he could do… Except wait for her… And so he did.
The lobby is once again full of movement and chatter.
The three ladies stand in the corner associating. They wear color-coordinated clothes and each has rosy-red cheeks.
Lady1: So… What do you think of the kid?
Lady2: Alice? She looks a bit raggedy to me.
Lady1: I‘ll have to agree… I’ve never seen some one wear such ugly footies.
Lady3: She’s wearing footies you say? I thought she just had really dirty feet.
Everyone chuckles a bit.
Lady2: I think she’s rather creepy…
Lady1: She kind of just mopes around, doesn’t she?
With her hair all in her face.
Lady2: God knows what’s hiding under there.
They chuckle once more and our focus is brought to a conversation toward the other end of the stage. It is between the Marsh hare and Hatter.
Hatter: I’ve been talking to Alice on and off.
I can’t get her to tell me why she’s in here.
Hare: I’ve heard rumors about a fire.
Hatter: Yes, well as have I… And to determine the trueness of these rumors I sent mouse in undercover.
Hare: In where exactly?
Hatter: To the filing floor.
Hare: You sent him down there?
Hatter: He’s the only one who can fit through the grate.
Hare: During lobby time?
Hatter: Don’t worry he’s as stealthy as a fox. Trust me.
Just as he says that a guard approaches the chess table pulling along a short man in dingy clothes.
Guard1: Is this yours?
Hatter: I really hope not.
Guard1:I found him snooping around in the records room.
Hatter: Uh huh…
Mouse: Come on fellas, tell em’ how many drugs they fed me this morning. I didn’t know where the hell I was.
Hatter: I must apologize for my small friend… You see, he was born without a brain, because he was too small; it never developed.
Guard1: One more time and you’re both in isolation.
Hatter: Understood… I’m sure you have better things to do. So sorry for the trouble and have a lovely day.
Hatter taps the guard on his shirt pocket when the guard swiftly grabs his hand and squeezes.
Guard1: This is a serious matter, do you understand?
Hatter looks down at his hand that the guard continues to hold.
Hatter: (Smiles) I didn’t know you felt that way for me.
Guard1: You little pervert! (He quickly lets go.)
Hatter: Oh come on kiss me.
Hatter lunges at the guard with open arms. The guard punches him in the stomach and he drops to the ground.
The guard walks away in a cloud of frustration.
Hatter: (Lifts head off ground.) Hey guard! I need to ask you something… Seriously… (The guard looks back with a red face.) Was it good for you? (The guard flips him off.) Cause it was great for me… Wild… (The guard stomps out of the scene.)
Mouse and Hare help Hatter up off the ground.
Mouse: Her birth name is Alice Herring she was adopted at the age of six and her documented date of birth is October 25 1931… That would make her… (Thinks.)
Mouse: Yes seventeen… Funny thing… I read her entire file and nowhere does it mention anything about her life as an orphan, nothing before the age six.
Mouse: Two years after Alice was adopted her foster parents died.
Hatter: A fire?
Mouse: (Shakes his head.) A house fire.
Hatter: So the rumors are true.
Mouse: Unquestionably. The strange thing about the fire is that they still don’t know what started it. At first it was suspected just an accident. You know, like a cigarette left burning or a stove left on?
Mouse: But about a week after the fire newfound evidence suggested that it might have been a homicide.
Hare: A house fire as a homicide?
Mouse: All of the doors into the house were locked and bolted as if they never tried to escape…
Hatter: As if they were dead before the fire even started.
Hare: I feel like we’re solving a mystery.
Mouse: Sadly this is somewhat of a dead-end mystery. There’s nothing to build from… Just a strange detail that will never stir.
Hatter: I would ask Alice, but frankly I’m a little afraid of how she might react.
Hare: Maybe she did it.
Mouse: She was only eight years old when it happened. There’s no way.
Hatter: And she happens to be a good friend of mine whom I may even confide in one day. She’s a sad and confused young woman and you accuse her of being a homicidal maniac!
Hare: (Smiles) You like her.
Hatter: Of course I like her.
Mouse: The lightening defense, the passion in your voice…
You do like her…
Hatter: I just said I did.
Hare: But you really like her.
Hatter: Sure I do… I mean she is attractive… and funny.
Hare: Oh most definitely.
Hatter: And I am only a few years older than her.
Hare: Two years and a month.
Hatter: Wow, yeah… Almost exactly… But she’d never go for me.
Hare: I think she’s mad about you.
Hatter: And what makes you think that?
Hare: I don’t know… Just a feeling.
Hatter: Yeah well we all have feelings. I’m feeling kind of sick. What if it’s a mistake? She’ll think I’m an ass and she’ll probably never want to speak to me again.
Hare: Do you always hope for the worst?
Hatter: It’s my defensive setback. I’ve been seriously let down too many times to be hopeful.
Hare: There is always room for hope.
Hatter: Hope may keep us happy amidst the unknown, but I’ve found that I can be just as happy without building my hopes up.
Hare: Yes, but it never hurts.
Hatter: It always hurts… But I suppose I could go talk to her.
Hare: There you go! Now go over there and tell her how you feel!
Hatter: I decided not to.
Hare: (sighs) You just said you were not even five seconds ago.
Hatter: Yes, well I’m indecisive. I change my mind a lot.
Hare: You’re like a woman.
Hatter: Sexist stereotypes are for moral pushers.
Hare: Okay… You’re like some women.
Hatter: Some women are confused by fairytales. They usually change their minds simply because they’re searching for a storybook romance or lifestyle and this stops them from enjoying the life they do have. They’re generally looking for something better or something new, but me… I know what I want, but I’m afraid if I get it then I will surely lose it.
Hare: You know what they say; it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
Hatter: Whoever said that obviously has never been in love… And he was most likely an altruist. I hate those.
(Exhales heavily) I will tell her eventually.
Alice leans against a wall and stares at the floor.
Hare: Doesn’t she look a little strange today?
Hatter: I was thinking that… She has been through a lot lately, with the tests and all.
Hare: She seems rather pale.
Hatter: Maybe I should see how she’s doing.
Hare: Maybe you should.
Hatter gets up and walks over to Alice.
Hatter: Hello Alice. (She continues to stare at the floor.)
Are you feeling okay? I noticed you were alone and I thought you might enjoy some company… (She doesn’t say anything.) Hello? Alice? (Raises his voice.) Are you listening to me? Do you even care? (She stays quiet and stares at her feet with watery/sad eyes.) You’re not a very good friend you know. Friends talk to each other. (Pauses)
That was selfish of me. I’m sorry. I think I understand.
I’ll let you alone now. Goodbye Alice… (Hatter turns to leave and Alice grabs him and begins crying, burying her face into his shoulder.) It’s okay… I’m here… You’re okay…
Alice cries and Hatter holds her tight, comforting her.
The lights fade to darkness.
Alice walks through the strange and eerie forests of Wonderland. The spider-like trees glow a dim neon-blue and jabberwhalkys hide in the bushes. A white rabbit man dashes across the stage.
Rabbit: Excuse me, I’m late. (He notices who she is and turns around.) You’re Alice aren’t you?
Alice: I suppose this is another dream.
Rabbit: You didn’t answer my question.
Alice: I am Alice.
Rabbit: Yes, Alice the dream-child. You fought the red queen, didn’t you? You took her on and you thought you won… And you would have too if she wasn’t an inexorable nightmare.
Alice: I suppose. I’ve been trying to not think about that right now… What are you late for anyway?
Rabbit: Late? (Looks at his clock.) Heavens me, I am late!
Alice: Sorry late for what?
Rabbit: I’m late for a very important date… It was such a pleasure meeting you Alice… I’m late, I’m late, I’m late! (Sprints out of the scene.)
Alice: Well, good luck Mr. Rabbit. He doesn’t seem to enjoy life very much although; this is all just a dream and a very bad one too. Dear how I wish I never had to come back here. Wonderland just keeps getting stranger and stranger every time I visit. If only I could find a way to never fall asleep again.
Cat: Did you say “a dream”? (A glowing smile appears with a glowing pare of eyes.)
Alice: Who said that?
Cat: Up here: (Alice looks up in a tree where a dreamlike cat sits. He also has glow in the dark stripes going down his back and tail.) Do you really think this is a dream?
Alice: It must be… I mean, it has to be, right?
Cat: What do you think?
Alice: I really don’t know anymore.
I’m almost sure that I’m dreaming.
Cat: Or is your life in the ward all just a dream?
Alice: I… (Begins to breathe heavily.) I don’t know…
Cat: A single perception of reality is a tricky thing. It is never reliable because the existence of the reality perceived can never be proven. It makes you question what’s real, doesn’t it?
Alice: I’m real! I know I am! I know I was once happy and I had a family who loved me!
Cat: Do you remember being happy? Do you remember anything from your childhood?
Alice: (Gets angry because she really can’t remember anything.) You’re just trying to mess me up, like everyone else in this horrible place. You hear me you ugly cat? You’re just an ugly cat and I don’t want to speak to you any longer.
Cat: (Laughs eerily.) This is all just a bad dream. (He fades into the darkness. All lights dim to black.) Wake up Alice… Wake up…
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