|Photo of Doug Rand (with hook) and cast of Peter Pan and Wendy by Mithra Ballesteros|
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Playwright Doug Rand attends PETER PAN AND WENDY
By Mithra Ballesteros, First Stage Children's Theater
First Stage welcomed playwright Doug Rand to the Todd Wehr Theater last Saturday. Rand, who wrote PETER PAN AND WENDY in 2006, had never seen the play produced by a professional theater company, and he relished the experience of being an audience member of his own show.
After the performance, Rand joined the actors on stage for a talkback with the audience. Later, he sat down with the young performers in the green room to answer more questions.
Young Performer: What did you think of this production?
Mr. Rand: I loved it! I’ve never seen my play done professionally and I have to say it was really cool! I really thought the ‘stage ninjas’ were amazing. I know that there are companies who specialize in supplying rigs to theaters for productions of Peter Pan. But this technique was much more creative and imaginative. I hope that other theaters take notice of Jeff Frank’s approach.
Young Performer: What did you think of the changes we made to your play?
Mr. Rand: I know you added a couple of Lost Boys. I liked having more. And their names – Pockets and Bumbershoot – are great!
Young Performer: Did you like the costumes?
Mr. Rand: Absolutely! I loved how the costume designer incorporated materials that might be found by Lost Boys. You know, I write a script but that is just the first step. I don’t put on a play alone. The director, the set designer, the costume designer, the lighting designer and the choreographer bring their interpretations. I admired all of their work.
Young Performer: What were your favorite moments?
Mr. Rand: I’m a sucker for those touching parent-child moments so I loved when Mrs. Darling was waiting by the nursery window. And the rock scene, when Peter is scared – that got me.
Young Performer: What was your interpretation of Peter’s relationship with Wendy?
(Miss Emily Harris, age seven, who plays Young Wendy, says ‘ewww’.)
Mr. Rand: (laughing) I think Peter leaves when he reaches the point where he is confused and can’t move closer to Wendy. Wendy lets him go for the same reason. Wendy wishes to mean more to Peter and she wants to be a mother, but does she really understand her own desires? Does she know what it entails to be a mother? The sacrifice? The pain? J.M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan over a century ago, was very close to his mother. In a way, he never grew up. Yet he also depicted in a truthful and clear-eyed way how selfish children can be. His writing was pretty unsentimental. I took as much thematic color from his original play and put that in my version. Mr. Barrie was an incredible writer. I tried not to touch what he did.
Young Performer: Is that why the language sounds kind of old?
Mr. Rand: (laughing again) Yes! I liked the old English expressions. “Rule Britainia!” It takes you to a different world.
Young Performer: What do you think of casting kids in professional theater productions?
Mr. Rand: I loved it! Why doesn't everyone do that? First Stage's age-appropriate casting is fantastic.
Young Performer: Did you watch the Disney animated version?
Mr. Rand: When I was in high school, I wrote a paper about how Disney sort of ruined the story of Peter Pan. The scene in the Disney movie where Peter kisses Tiger Lily and then swoons? That would never happen! So while I was working on this play, I stayed away from the Disney version. My play is darker and more mysterious, less happy-go-lucky. I tried to get at the truth of Mr. Barrie's story.
Young Performer: What happens when Peter is on the rock?
Mr. Rand: Ha! You know, I tried to keep this play action-packed and fast-paced. So we had to edit. We had to eliminate some scenes and some characters, like the natives. But if you want the answer to how Peter escapes from the rock, read the book!
Doug Rand lives in Washington D.C. He and his brother Jonathan founded Playscripts, Inc. a company that independently publishes new plays and musicals. Mr. Rand and his wife Dafna are expecting their first child, and both admitted that attending First Stage's production of PETER PAN AND WENDY has increased their excitement to become new parents.
For tickets to PETER PAN AND WENDY, which runs through November 14, please click here.
Posted by Mithra Ballesteros