JMBarrie => Peter Pan => Topic started by: SingsWithRavens on October 04, 2010, 06:50:39 AM

Title: Editing the Play: a New Message
Post by: SingsWithRavens on October 04, 2010, 06:50:39 AM
Hey guys.

I'm thinking about directing -Peter Pan- at my college. I've never directed theatre before, but it'll be a learning experience to an extreme, and I'm quite excited for it.
However, I'd like to 'edit' certain sections of Barrie's play (notably cutting the "savage" language of the Indians and also adding some more Hook quotes/soliloquies). I'd be changing the MESSAGE of the play slightly (to suit my audience (college students)), but not the overall story.
From what I understand, it's fairly common for theatre directors to cut and even change sections of a play to suit the message they're trying to convey. But because Barrie's play is shrouded in copyright, I'm wondering about legality issues in regard to a director's creative license.
Also, how do you guys - an intellectual bunch of -Peter Pan- nuts like me - feel about sections of the play, and the message, being altered? Mind you, I'm most certainly NOT changing the story :D (I like it too much as it stands)
Better yet, do you have any suggestions?

Title: Re: Editing the Play: a New Message
Post by: AlexanderDavid on October 04, 2010, 08:01:55 AM
I'm curious to know what sorts of changes you have in mind.  I certainly don't consider the Barrie text to be "set in stone"--even Barrie himself didn't--but I do feel that certain things do need to happen a certain way in order to preserve the integrity of the story.

If you can give an idea of what you have in mind it might be easier to answer your questions.
Title: Re: Editing the Play: a New Message
Post by: GOSH on October 04, 2010, 09:57:26 AM
Hi SingswithRavens
You do not say which country you live in, but I can assure you Peter Pan's copyright is not shrouded in mystery! Complicated at times, yes, but if you write to me at, I'll give you all the information you need.

Many modern adaptations have left out the Indians altogether (e.g. the National Theatre of Scotland's recent production) so adapting the play is not a problem (except with some Barrie purists, so beware of audience and critics' reaction!).


Title: Re: Editing the Play: a New Message
Post by: SingsWithRavens on October 05, 2010, 01:02:58 AM
WOW! Responses! So exciting. C:
It is difficult to change Barrie's play for exactly the reason you stated. Because I'm appealing to (mainly) a college student audience, certain aspects of Barrie's messages would be highlighted while others would remain in the background. Most, if not all of my classmates understand that one message of -Peter Pan- is that of youthful joy in remaining young at heart. But other, usually darker themes, such as that of 'memento mori' ("Remember you must die") and  "The readiness is all" (courage in accepting death), are less obvious. It is my wish that in editing, I'll be able to highlight these themes, and so appeal to my adult audience. Very, very little of the play will actually be cut. In fact, I'm technically expanding the play, keeping a close eye on sustaining Barrie's tone and meter.
What Hook says is what I'm mainly concerned with. I plan to take away much of his pirate jargon, swaying more toward the collegiate intelligence I personally prefer and we all know he possesses. Hook's character highlights most of the darker themes of -Peter Pan-, and so I'd like to expand on the idea that he's not a villain, but a man..."a solitary enigma" a tortured soul. The lighthearted air of the play will still remain, but Hook's personality - represented through his quotes - will accent darker themes, and so give a little more depth to the play than what my classmates expect.
Specifically, I'd be giving Hook a few soliloquies (maybe in Act II and possibly Act III/IV) in which he'd probably reflect on the crocodile a little more and question the righteousness (form) of what he is doing. I do plan to put in a few latin phrases, possibly a small section of "Carmen Etonense" (in which case I'd need to contact Eton College.), and one or two -Hamlet- quotes.
Also, in our rather critical times, the "primitive" language of the Indians could be taken as an affront to many in the audience, so I would be changing the way in which they speak (I have them speaking 'regular' English). This would, I imagine and hope, keep the audience's mind from wandering. "Wow. That's racist!", is a thought I'd rather not have cross anyone's mind, so I'll avoid that altogether.

If you have any other questions or suggestions, just add them :D

I live in the United States. I'll shoot you an email from my school mail.
AH! That's quite a relief...about the copyright.
Barrie purists are what I'm a little nervous about, but because my school is fairly small (about 15,000 in a state where most public colleges are around 25,000 to 45,000 students), I really don't think I'll come across anyone as critical over the play as me.
Thanks for the info!
Title: Re: Editing the Play: a New Message
Post by: TheWendybird on October 07, 2010, 08:36:19 PM
I think providing it's not something insanely bad like a porn...I think Barrie would be flattered at peoples adaptations of his story...Peter Pan shouldn't be put in a box's a modern legend now....I think adding or even taking away SOME stuff is not a horrible idea....not having anything to do with trying to make it "better" than Barrie's....just another view of it. Even using it as a means of showing how we ourselves relate to it. I don't think there is any "one" message to the show or any piece of literature..everyone will take something different from it. :)
Title: Re: Editing the Play: a New Message
Post by: JAQ on October 08, 2010, 02:48:56 PM
I agree wholeheartedly.  I'm a firm supporter of copyright in the sense that James Madison was thinking when he wrote it into the U.S. Constitution: the creator of a work should have exclusive control over it and get to profit from it, but after a period of time it becomes part of our cultural heritage (like the Odyssey, Le Morte D'Arthur, Hamlet, Tom Sawyer, etc), and should be available for anyone to use.
Title: Re: Editing the Play: a New Message
Post by: SingsWithRavens on October 18, 2010, 05:47:05 AM
Thanks for all your responses, guys!
I'm now editing the play, but most likely won't be able to put it on until 2014 or so (as a senior culminating exhibition). Within the next two years, however, I actually hope to write an orchestral score to accompany the, I'll basically end up with a -Peter Pan- symphony. I hope to divide the symphony into 6 pieces (for each of the six acts), each with three/four movements. Once that's done, I can start moving toward fleshing out the play.

Ah! This will be one huge project, but I'm looking forward to the work.