By Daria Brosius
What could be more fun than getting to recreate recess with your friends? Neverland Players, a troupe co-directed by seniors Kate Doyle and Amanda Borson, provides a vehicle for Grinnellians to explore their love of play through theatre and storytelling.
Doyle explained the group’s focus on a collaborative process. The first two weeks of rehearsal consist of group fun.
“We play games—things that kids would do at recess,” Doyle said.
The group rehearses four times per week for three hours at a time. According to Doyle, about half the rehearsal time is spent playing improv games while the other half of rehearsal time is spent practicing bringing stories to life. To begin with, Neverland Players utilize stories from past performances.
Both co-directors emphasized that this is “an ensemble-driven show,” as there are no leads. Rather than directors, both Doyle and Borson see their roles more as facilitators.
Actor Dylan Bondy ’16 expressed his enjoyment of performing with Neverland.
“Making these kids stories come to life as short plays really brings me back to my own childhood. It’s my 12 hours a week to be 12 years old again,” Bondy said.
The group has a strong partnership with Ellie Arsenault’s third grade class at Davis Elementary School. This year, the class produced twelve stories, ten of which will be incorporated into the Neverland performance this weekend. As a few authors submitted multiple stories, all students will have at least one story featured in the show.
The Neverland Players divide up into groups of two to four actors to begin crafting skits out of the third graders’ stories.
The show will include ten shorter skits between one to six minutes each as well as a longer skit dubbed “the epic” by the group, which runs from ten to fifteen minutes
“[The epic] is more complex, with the full cast parodying songs from a variety of genres,” said Doyle.
This weekend’s show will be accompanied by recent graduate Erik Jarvis ’12 on the piano.
This semester’s cast is composed, in general, of a number of new students who are bringing a lot of life to the group.
“We’ve got a lot of fresh blood, they’re very talented—it’s exciting,” Borson said.
The stories utilized for this weekend’s show run the gamut from “learning lessons about sharing” to “bizarre stories that don’t make any sense,” according to Borson.
Shows are this Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. in Bucksbaum’s Wall Theatre Lab. The runtime is one hour. Tickets are currently sold out, but students may come twenty minutes prior to the start of the show to be put on a wait list.
Doyle issued a reminder to students that this will be a family event.
“Don’t come schwasty-faced,” Doyle said.
Students wanting to become involved need not wait until auditions next semester. The group has a program called Neverland Juniors that works with students in town during the school year. The group facilitates writing and acting workshops with students at local schools.
Neverland is “always looking for way to expand into the community,” Borson said.
Current partnership efforts include programming with the Grinnell Area Arts Council and Drake Library, but Borson hopes to develop partnerships with the medical center, as well as the Des Moines Children’s Hospital.