On March 15, 1924, to entertain their students, Meredith College faculty presented a play based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Gertrude Royster Sorrell, director of physical education, is credited with the idea; Ida Poteat, art professor, created the whimsical masks and elaborate costumes. The March 21, 1924 edition of the student newspaper reviewed the show: “Decidedly the hit of the season” and “Faculty in curious forms produce many laughs.” The program from the first show, seen in the gallery below, lists the characters of the play, but not the actors - establishing the tradition of keeping the identities of the players secret until they walk onto the stage. (Although many roles are held by the same actors for years. Lillian Parker Wallace was the White Rabbit from 1924 to 1968.) Similarly, while each performance maintains the wondrous story of Alice, every four years the play is updated with current events, music, and language – with each cast putting their own spin the classic story's interpretation. The college's archives holds the programs and several costumes from past productions.
Since 1924, the quadrennial performance of Alice, tailored for its audience of students, has become one of the most beloved Meredith traditions. The next show dates are in February 2024.
View Dr. Jean Jackson's Lecture