Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dominguez Brings Colorful, 3D Feel to TADW's ‘Alice in Wonderland’

With opening night of “Alice in Wonderland” just a few days away, director Corky Dominguez is busy putting the final touches on the colorful, custom-made masks that are featured in the show.

“We’ve all seen Alice many times, so I wanted to look at a more creative way to tell the story,” Dominguez said. “So I decided to utilize mask work, similar to the commedia dell'arte style.”

In addition to the beautiful masks, audience members can expect a few other surprises in Dominguez’s “Alice, ” from the “pop-up book” look of the set, to the gorgeous costumes. “With all the emphasis on 3D in movies like ‘Avatar,’ I was going for color and texture, so we’ve done that with the lights and sets and costumes,” he said.

Dominguez also incorporates a ‘Mardi Gras-Samba’ element that provides scene transitions. “Alice gets swept up in a parade as she transitions from scene to scene,” Dominguez said. “It is very fun.”

TADW's retelling of the story finds Alice as a modern-day schoolgirl. “She even wears ‘Harajuku-style’ fashion and has a BFF,” he adds.

A CSUN theatre graduate, Dominguez is a returning TADW staff member. He taught and directed various productions for the workshop in the 1980s, when he was a student in the theatre department. More recently in 2008, he directed “Disney's High School Musical” for TADW.

He says the Workshop provides students with excellent professional support, from the costumes and sets to the lighting and sound. “But the number one thing is that the kids get 10 performances,” he said. “For these kids to get the opportunity for a run, I don’t know any other program where they get that. Plus, they get all the educational training with the morning classes.”

In addition to working with TADW, Dominguez teaches part-time during the school year at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, where he teaches a class in cultural social theatre studies. “We look at writers of color,” he said, adding that the class helps prepare students for a “wider view of theatre.”

Dominguez also serves on the board of the California Educational Theatre Association, as co-chair of cultural diversity. The organization hosts two theatre festivals and a conference for educators, in addition to working on keeping the arts in schools.

"I am the perfect example of how important the arts are," Dominguez said, citing growing up in East Los Angeles. As a young boy, he was involved in choir, band and talent shows, eventually taking part in school plays. "I never stopped," he said. "Even now, I'm still working with high school students."

So how can TADW students and parents help support the arts in their schools and communities? “Go see theatre,” Dominguez said. “Everywhere. Whether it is at a school, a community theatre or an amateur show – every time you see a play you are supporting the arts.”

To further support the arts, he also encouraged students and parents to look for volunteer opportunities with local theatre groups – even including TADW.

"Alice in Wonderland" opens Friday, July 23 in the Little Theatre in Nordhoff Hall on the Campus of California State Univeristy, Northridge. For ticket information, visit this link.

(Pictured: Director Corky Dominguez puts the finishing touches on masks for "Alice in Wonderland"; the cast of "Alice" during a recent technical-dress rehearsal.)

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