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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Grinnellians refuse to grow up

The Neverland Players, Grinnell’s own theater group that acts out skits created from short stories written by children, is ready to put on a show this weekend. Typically, the Players solely accept stories from kids at Davis Elementary School, but this year they have included stories from children at the Grinnell Area Arts Council program, Free Imagination.

The unique theme of the theater group gives the Players a chance to enjoy some childish fun.

“I feel like I get to be seven years old again,” said Isabel Cooke ’16, a Neverland member. “I think it’s one of the best ways at Grinnell to just really let your creativity loose. Anything goes as long as it’s appropriate for kids.”

During rehearsals, the group starts with one story and works with it, improvising and polishing until it becomes a skit that they like.

“We try to stick to the essence of what the kid wrote and celebrate the child’s vision,” said Meghan McDermott ’16, another Neverland member.

Part of the program’s goal is community outreach. The children who wrote the stories and their families are invited to come to the performance, and the kids get recognized for their work after the performance.

“A lot of our audience is College kids, but we do it for the kids to see their stories come to life,” said Phoebe Mogharei ’16, co-director of the Neverland Players this semester.

“There have been a few [kids] that asked for autographs after the show,” Cooke added. “That was the highlight of everything for me.”

In addition to engaging with the larger Grinnell community, the Players form a community of their own through rehearsals. At the beginning of the rehearsal process, they play many improvisational theater games and tell stories to get to know one another better.

“One of my favorite parts of Neverland is the relationships we build with each other,” said co-director Julianne Thompson ’15.

This semester’s production includes five new cast members, all of whom are first-years.

“It’s wonderful. Everyone is supporting each other and we are all being crazy,” Mogharei said. “It literally takes over your life while you’re in it, but it’s a welcome thing. You come to Neverland and it’s like a different world.”

The skits will include a Peter Pan story with a machine that turns people into babies, a skit modeled after a sitcom and one about a child who creates robots. Some skits also parody popular songs. One song, set to the tune of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, goes:

“Now this is a story all about how the future got flipped turned upside down/And I’d like to take a year (time is different now)/I’ll tell you how creativity is against the law.”

At the end of the show, there will be an “epic” skit created by the cast, which features several different songs, including Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” parodied as “Get Artsy,” which McDermott described as a “battle cry for artistic genius.”

The Players are very excited for their upcoming performance.

“You’re always crossing your fingers that the audience will like what everyone in Neverland thinks is funny,” McDermott said. “It’s not really scripted, so there’s always that element of excitement.”

The show is packed full of interesting characters such as a grandma, a loofah and a Scottish person.

“Be prepared to be terrified at some points, in an overwhelmingly positive way,” Cooke said.

“Everything works out in the end,” McDermott added. “It’s a happy, happy place.”

The Neverland Players performance will take place in the Wall Performance Lab in Bucksbaum this Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.

The Neverland cast in costume, getting excited for this weekend’s performances. Photo by Sarah Trop.
The Neverland cast in costume, getting excited for this weekend’s performances. Photo by Sarah Trop.
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