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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Neverland strikes again, brings stories to stage

By Darwin Manning 

Perhaps one of the most rewarding and entertaining study break options available to students at Grinnell, Neverland Players, is preparing yet another host of stories Dr. Seuss wishes he wrote. There will be two evening performances at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and two matinee performances, 2 p.m., on Saturday and Sunday.

The members of the cast all seem to agree that the experience has been irreplaceable. “This is the second time I have done Neverland, and considering my experience with it last semester, there was no doubt in my mind that I would audition again,” Natalie Eisenberg ’12 said.

Unlike other plays or productions in which auditioning can be quite competitive and rehearsal for the show can get pretty tiring, Neverland Players prides itself on its relaxed and fun approach to theater. “Actors and actresses are chosen through a really short audition process, where we ask you to show us your childhood—be open to us and we’ll be open to you,” said director Alexis Leuszler ’12 (Leuzler co-directs with Johnny Buse ’11, who also serves as Editor for the S&B.)

Far from an added stress, many cast members found rehearsing for Neverland a welcome break from the day-to-day seriousness of schoolwork. “Just everyday going to rehearsal has been really fun, which is really different because usually during a theater rehearsal, it can get really tiring, but the rehearsals for Neverland are never like that,” Grace Carroll ’12 said.

“I think anyone that is in Bucksbaum during our rehearsal times is can hear how much fun we have during practice,” Eisenberg said.

Each production will last somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour and will involve several short-skits. The preparation for working on a skit involves a special ritual that gives the performers the chance to appreciate the work of the elementary school student.

“Before every scene we state the title written by the kid and the kid’s name, and thus we always start by giving the kids recognition and praise,” Eisenberg said.

The roles the actors and actresses will embody are quite playful and imaginative. “I play many different roles ranging from a dog with severe gas, to a door that raps, to a talking stuffed seal that is more dramatic than anyone I have ever met,” Eisenberg said.

The stories also vary quite significantly in subject matter. “Some of them have real interesting topics like writing a 20,000 thousand-dollar check to Davis and tater tots in the cafeteria again,” Leuszler said. “It’s just truly rewarding to bring the imaginations of these terrific kids home.”

Cast members are fully anticipating the moment when they will actually get the chance to perform in front of the youth. “I’m really excited to have kids in the audience, because I think they amp up the energy a lot, they laugh a lot more than adult audiences,” Carroll said, “and since these are their stories it will just be really cool to have them say, ‘Oh I wrote that one.’” Carroll said.

Playwrights will also be given the chance to come up on stage for full recognition of their work. “After each performance we ask any playwrights in the audience to come up on stage, and that’s so rewarding, because they have their parents, peers and Grinnell community applauding their work,” Leuszler said. “It gives them the chance to feel like they’ve reached this certain creative level where everyone is exploring their adventures with them.”

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