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Illinois Theatre premieres a modern take on ‘Peter Pan’

Cast during a rehearsal of "The Neverland," playing this month at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

URBANA — The University of Illinois’s Krannert Center for the Performing Arts is showing “The Neverland” through Saturday. It’s an adaptation of the original “Peter Pan” play that’s more inclusive to minority groups.

​​Although there are some changes from the original version of “Peter Pan,” “The Neverland” includes some of the original characters, such as fairies and pirates.

Madeline Sayet is the screenwriter and director of the play. She says it was hard for her to deconstruct a classic. Yet, she says they were things in the play that was joyful and worth pursuing.

“The idea of creating a space of native joy of a production that celebrates everyone was really inspiring to me,” Sayet said. “The thing is, the original text isn’t just that there are racist depictions of native people, but it’s actually very specifically a colonial framework.”

Sayet said students were able to help develop the play.

“A lot of this piece was developed in relationship with the performers, with the students and thinking about what parts of their identity they feel like getting suppressed in different environments, and especially the role education has in that,” Sayet said.

Sayet said it has been heartwarming to hear people’s reactions to the play.

She said she hopes hopes this production will educate audiences and even inspire other directors to undertake similar projects.

Picture of Luis Velazquez-Perez

Luis Velazquez-Perez

Luis Velazquez- Perez recently earned a B.S. in Journalism with a minor in Latina/Latino studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is now pursuing his Master's in Journalism. Aside as an intern at Illinois Newsroom, Velazquez-Perez has written for The Daily Illini, Cicero Independiente and C-U CitizenAccess. He aspires to be a bilingual public radio journalist

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