Peter Pan trunk show uses found objects and a small cast to encourage youthful imagination.
by Brooke Yarborough
This spring, MFA Production Management candidate Danielle Taylor (CFA’17) is hitting the road with Bringing Neverland, a 30-minute adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s 1911 classic novel Peter and Wendy. Taylor’s mission is to tour and perform the production for underserved audiences to spread the message about youthful imagination, and share the art of creative storytelling.
From Boston Children’s Hospital to the Ronald McDonald House, Taylor hopes the project will bring the magic of Peter Pan and theatre to those who rarely have the opportunity to experience live entertainment, in a form that is convenient and accessible for all audiences, regardless of venue, age, or means.
“I’ve always enjoyed children’s theatre,” says Taylor, who prior to studying at BU, served as Resident Stage Manager of Children’s Theater at Omaha Theatre Company, and Assistant Company Manager for Sesame Street Live! “For my thesis project, I felt inspired to do something in addition to a research paper; a project that I could bring to the local community and write about my experiences.”
This past summer, Taylor worked with a friend of a friend who is a Children’s Literature graduate student to finalize the scripts adaptations. With the help of a $2,000 grant from the BU Arts Initiative, she was able to start purchasing costumes and coordinating logistics for production last fall.
“To allow for a focus on the storytelling aspect and imagination for the younger generations, the show’s props and costumes are limited to what can fit in a trunk,” says Taylor. “Each prop serves many purposes. For example, a lantern could be used for exploring, but could also be Tinkerbell’s home; the trunk could be the seat below the nursery window, but later pop up to be the pirate ship.”
“We’re very focused on the found object,” she adds. “It’s still developing, but the props are ever-evolving— anything can become anything. We create what this world does.”
The entire show is specifically designed for a small cast of just four to five actors. While Taylor initially wanted to work with students within the BU School of Theatre to produce the show, she struggled to find students who could commit to the project or had mutual availability. “I talked to so many people who loved the idea, but didn’t have the time to dedicate to it,” she recalls.
Taylor’s advisor Roger Meeker suggested she reach out to recent alums. In November, Tim Spears (CFA’06,’11,’16) came on board to direct the show. Casting began in January, and includes senior Alicia Pemme Nelson (CFA’17) and local theatre artists Rachel Smith (CFA’17), Tyler Prendergast, and Katie Grindeland, sound design by J. Collin PriddyBarnum (CFA’17), and scenic design by Jeffrey Petersen (CFA’17).
With the production fully cast, Taylor is currently seeking opportunities to stage the production through the end of the semester, including a production at Studio 210. She hopes to “continue developing touring programs for children’s theatre after graduation in May.”