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The Scarlet & Black

Neverland Players: Putting the kid in college kids

Sophiyaa Nayar ’17, Teddy Hoffman ‘14 and Emma Cibula ’17 in a skit entitled “Wacky the Bird.” Photo by Tela Ebersole.

This weekend offers the opportunity for Grinnellians to get back in touch with their inner children with the performances of the Neverland Players.

The Neverland Players is a theatre group that takes stories written by children in the Grinnell elementary schools and adapts them into skits for a live show. Children get the chance to see their stories come to life and be recognized for their creativity.

“They get to join us and take a final bow with the rest of the cast and its just a really magical moment,” said Hutch Freeland ’14, one of the Neverland directors.

This semester’s cast bears a significant number of new faces, as well as a few Neverland veterans.

“[There is] a lot of youth and a lot of new ideas being brought in … which is something that I think is really carried through to the show itself, in both energy and excitement,” Freeland said.

This semester’s show features a wide range of characters and stories likely to bring laughs including a fortune teller, magic crystals and a boy with a pet snake who is afraid of roller coasters. Even though the stories are written by elementary school students, they can be relatable and interesting for a college audience, as well.

“I think it’s arguably more for a college audience,” said cast member Gabe Lehman ’16. “What I like is that it’s really absurd and a lot of the stories don’t make any sense, but they’re hilarious because it’s the combination of kids’ weird imaginations and then us also having weird imaginations … it’s really bizarre.”

The show especially promises to hold sentimental value for graduating students.

“Let’s just say one of the skits might pack some emotional punch for anyone who’s a fourth-year,” Freeland said. “I’ve had a talk with one of the actors—he’s a fourth-year—and I told him, if you keep doing it like that, you’re really going to make me cry, and he’s like ‘Well, I’m probably going to cry on stage.’”

During the beginning of the season, the group spends a lot of rehearsal time playing theatre games to create a comfortable environment and improve cast members’ improv skills. This practice allows for memorable comedic moments.

“One time we were playing big booty, and one of the senior Neverland players slipped and started saying big booby,” said Lauren Fenton ’17.

The group’s crazy antics are made possible by their cohesiveness and level of comfort with one another. The close-knit nature of their group is key to their successful performances. Cast members spend time together in rehearsals and out, during “mandatory fun time.”

“It really does build this sense of togetherness and community, even family,” Freeland said.

Freeland also felt that although the show is never perfect, it has character and is what is most entertaining for the audience.

“It’s still supposed to be kind of improv. We’re not supposed to have a script. We’re supposed to be kind of playing off each other,” said director Kirsten Nelson ’15.

“There’s a certain energy that’s carried by all the performers … and so when we get to this point … even if sometimes it doesn’t go as planned, … the positive energy that they carry with them really just carries through to the audience and they love it,” Freeland said.

Besides performing this weekend, some members of Neverland work with Neverland Juniors in the community, in which elementary students perform skits of stories written by their peers. Neverland is also scheduled to perform this summer at the Minnesota Fringe Fest—their third Fringe Festival performance.

This semester’s Neverland Players performances will take place tonight at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in Bucksbaum.

Sophiyaa Nayar ’17, Teddy Hoffman ‘14 and Emma Cibula ’17 in a skit entitled “Wacky the Bird.” Photo by Tela Ebersole.
Sophiyaa Nayar ’17, Teddy Hoffman ‘14 and Emma Cibula ’17 in a skit entitled “Wacky the Bird.” Photo by Tela Ebersole.
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