Alice in Wonderland is not just a children’s classic or a favorite family film; it’s a celebration of nonsense for anyone who has ever wanted to poke fun at the “grown up” world of learning, politics, and good manners.

As much as Alice Liddell (the original Alice, in 1862) must have enjoyed Lewis Carroll’s stories for their whimsical surprises and colorful characters, the real genius of Alice in Wonderland – the reason we are still reading and watching and enjoying his work in 2010 – is its astute, good-humored satire and its affirmation of the power of imagination.

Falling deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole this summer, I have had the privilege of peeking inside the mind of Lewis Carroll – a brilliant mathematician intrigued by the beauty of chaos, delighted by the logic of nonsense, and frustrated at the rigidity of his Victorian society – not for his own sake, but for children like Alice and her sisters, who were taught too soon to silence their imaginations, keep their dreams to themselves, and repeat lessons: “look up, speak nicely, and don’t twiddle your fingers all the time.”

As Alice journeys through Wonderland, she encounters wild, exaggerated, sometimes terrifying creatures, all of whom mirror the characters in her “real” life. Perhaps to a girl of seven-and-a-half-exactly, her tutor does seem like an ornery caterpillar, and her governess isn’t so different from a strict, formidable chess queen. More importantly, Alice’s path is one of self-discovery; she learns to navigate this strange new world and returns to her own, empowered to dream and determined not to hold her tongue.

As you follow Alice down the rabbit hole, let loose your sense of whimsy, and enjoy the journey. And when it’s time to wake up and return home, I hope you will keep dreaming of this golden afternoon.

— director’s note, Amy Clare Tasker.

Atmos Theatre’s promenade production of Alice in Wonderland ran July – September 2010 in the redwood forest on the San Francisco peninsula.

Featuring Molly Benson, Stuart Bousel, Victor Carrion, Lindsay Cookson, Maria Giere, Geoffrey Libby, Rik Lopes, Brian Markley, Brian Martin, Karen Offereins, Jessica Rudholm, Michael Sally, and Kari Wolman.

Design and production by Bessie Delucchi, Brian Markley, JD John Daniel, Karen Offereins, Logan Daniel, Marcie Shepherd, Molly Benson, and Seanan Palmero.

Lindsay Cookson as Alice in Alice in Wonderland with Atmos Theatre, 2010.