Mad as a Hatter

. March 31, 2019.
Photo credit: Acom Photos
Photo credit: Acom Photos

A search for the original

Origin stories, for superheroes, famous people and more, have always been popular in the movie and TV business, but book characters rarely get the same treatment. Local actor, director and playwright Michael Herman’s new play, “Mad as a Hatter”, produced by the Roustabout Theatre Troupe from April 4th-20th at the YES space in Ypsilanti, explores the life of young Charles Dodgson, or Lewis Carroll, and his interesting relationship with eccentric cabinet-maker and inventor Theophilius Carter, who would provide the inspiration for Carroll’s character the Mad Hatter.

Alice in her 20’s

“I have been obsessed with Alice in Wonderland since I saw the animated movie with my third-grade art class”, said Herman. “There is just something so outrageously playful about that world to me. Talking flowers, a smiling cat, playing cards that guard an angry queen. It’s mysterious and curious and charming.”

Besides the relationship between Dodgson and Carter, Herman was interested in showing a different side of the story’s title character. “I wanted to explore Alice as a 20-something. I’ve seen Alice as a child, and even as an old woman, but I’ve never seen Alice struggling with growing up. I imagine it would have been so difficult for her, and I wanted this play to be a love letter to that moment in her life.”

World of Roustabout Theatre

Roustabout Theatre Troupe has been steadily making a name for themselves in the Michigan theatre scene, and instead of traveling from space to space to do their shows, they’re finally putting down roots in the YES Space in Ypsilanti. Herman has worked with the company as both an actor and a director – he starred as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde last year in their production of the same name – and for him, there was something special about seeing his work being brought to life by people he cares about. “At the end of the day, if you’re working with people that you love, you’re not just ‘putting up a show’, you’re building a world,” he said.

Of course, for the playwright, building the world of the play means relinquishing a certain amount of control over it, and Herman acknowledged that this can be a nerve-wracking process. “A writer has to let go of a script in the rehearsal process”, he said. “After hundreds of hours perfecting each comma and dotting each i, you just give it up. I don’t always like it, but it’s nothing short of magical every time.”

While the process of letting his work fall into the hands of the actors, designers and directors is a slightly daunting one, Herman is excited to see how audiences react to the show.

“When the audience walks out of the theatre, I want them to think up an impossible thing. I want them to tell a joke to their children. I want them to laugh in public. To giggle for too long. I want them to remember why they ran outside to play. I am overjoyed to share a piece of Wonderland with all of you.”

“Mad as a Hatter” plays April 4th-20th at the YES Space,
8 North Washington, Ypsilanti. For tickets and more information, please visit www.roustabouttheatre.com.

Trending

Courtroom installation explores what is fair and equitable in the legal system

We human beings are a storytelling species. Our social institutions— religious, legal and cultural— are based on narratives that may be fanciful or fact-based or influenced by precedent. But they are also ever-evolving. Throughout the winter and spring of 2020, Courtney McClellan, this year’s Roman J. Witt Artist in Residence at the University of Michigan

Kickshaw Theatre presents Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs

Propelling their new season into uncharted waters For many couples, the mere prospect of parenthood is daunting enough without the weight of the world bearing down on our backs. Yet as we take our first tentative steps into 2020, Australia is in flames, the U.K. is split down the middle by Brexit, and the sound

Impulse Ann Arbor explores Michigan’s thriving techno scene

Thirty Years and Counting Jordan Stanton’s Impulse Ann Arbor documentary chronicles the techno music scene via MEMCO (Michigan Electronic Music Collective)— a university-affiliated group of student DJs, promoters, fans, and dancers. This DIY collective has roots that can be traced to 1980s Detroit. It’s a wonder to see how this music has evolved and thrived

Brother Elsey

Intimate and epic Americana to the Ark The three brothers of Brother Elsey are looking forward to the intimacy within The Ark. Brady, Beau, and Jack Stablein have been recording and performing a rousing blend of Americana and neo-country ballads for several years now, layering songs with evocative sheens of reverb, swelling harmonies, and road