When my teenage daughter was four years old, she went through a major Peter Pan phase. I picked up J.M. Barrie’s original 1904 play and every Peter book, movie, and game I could get my hands on. We read books out loud, we acted them out; we dove into the waters and flew through the air on our couches and chairs and beds, in search of adventures in Neverland. The magical stories about the boy who wouldn’t grow up set our imaginations ablaze and gave us great big gobs of fun. One of the novels I found was Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Berry and Ridly Pearson. As my kid and I began reading it, I realized pretty quickly that this amazing book was a bit too “old” for me and my four-year-old. I ended up reading it on my own and falling in love with the brave and mysterious Molly as she befriends a nameless orphan Boy and they both discover how Starstuff will make you what you want to be.
This play, based on that novel, shows us how a nameless kid becomes the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. The way Starcatcher vibes off of J.M. Barrie’s original Peter Pan play and novel is quite similar to the principles behind our new project: Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries.
But the structure and style of this play (and our production) does more than provide a vehicle for a Peter Pan prequel, it’s also about imagination and community – the Starstuff that permeates what the ASC has been doing for twenty-nine years. Starcatcher playwright, Rick Elise, writes the following in the Production Handbook that goes out to the companies who produce this play:
“We wanted to make sure the play would reflect what all of us love most about the theatre – a sense of being a part of something bigger than yourself. Community. We begin with a mob of actors…a community waiting to happen, and we end it with those same people, back with a purpose – to lift Peter up in flight. And we know it’s the beginning of something.
“It’s that collective strength and community purpose – your community here – that I hope you’ll remember. It’s what this play is about, but it’s also what theatre is for – why we love and need it so. Since 2007, Peter and the Starcatcher has traveled across the country, to Broadway and beyond. And its magic has traveled intact ¬– the result of years of collaboration, ingenuity, family, and love. However you do it, make sure your do it for one another, for family, for community. Trust me, that’s the secret to staying (or at lease feeling) young forever.”
This “story theatre” play is perfectly suited for the ASC, our use of Shakespeare’s Staging Conditions, and Shakespeare’s Theatre of Imagination. It’s tailor-made for families and the kid inside us all who craves adventure and a place to belong.
ASC ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AND CO-FOUNDER