Sunday, June 22, 2008

Peter Breaks through

In college, my directing teacher, Bob Hetherington was once talking about a production of Peter Pan he directed at the University. He said that the best performance of the show that he saw was the run through just before going into technical rehearsals. That final day in the rehearsal studio was, for him, the most magical, before the scenery and costumes. It was more imaginative and more pure, watching actors pretending to fly, like children, than it ever was watching them hooked into harnesses and flying about the stage.

Bob’s story sparked something in my imagination that I have never been able to shake loose. Why not do a rehearsal hall production of J. M. Barrie’s famous play? Something that captures the feeling of story time in kindergarten, by inviting people to grab a carpet square and sit on the floor and watch a story unfold.

Matt Lageman was an actor I had worked with in nearly every show I directed at WSU, from my first to my last. I liked him very much, but he always seemed to end up playing the second banana in my shows. It was my intention to build the show around him. Matt was to be my Peter Pan, and the role of Wendy was to go to Lisa Roth. Lisa was an actress who’s work I always enjoyed, but who seemed underutilized in the theatre department.

Matt’s parents told him he couldn’t act in any shows because of his grades. For whatever reason he listened to them, and he told me that it he couldn’t be in the show. I couldn’t imagine doing Peter Pan with anyone else and it never came to pass.

If anything my desire to do a production of Peter Pan free of technical considerations and full of imagination is stronger now than it was fifteen years ago.

I look forward to a day, next spring, when Playlab NYC can bring it to you.

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