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An awfully big adventure

The mythical island Neverland in the Gisborne Homeschool Group’s production of Peter Pan is made up of found objects that might be discovered on East Coast beaches, says set designer Josh O’Neill. The objets trouvé include lots of driftwood and even a broken surfboard.

“Captain Hook’s pirate ship will be a great surprise for the audience and will showcase the ingenuity of our homeschooling families,” says O’Neill.

The homeschool group’s theatrical production of J M Barrie’s classic story of a free-spirited boy who can fly and never grows up is not pantomime, a musical or the Disney version, but adapted from Barrie’s book by Pioneer Drama Service playwright Craig Sodaro.

As a baby, Peter Pan fell out of his carriage and was taken by fairies to Neverland where he could fly. He is also champion of the Lost Boys — boys “who fall out of their prams when the nurse is looking the other way and if they are not claimed in seven days, they are sent far away to the Neverland”. When Peter revisits England, he becomes involved with Wendy Darling and her younger brothers. He invites Wendy to join him on Neverland to be the Lost Boys’ mother. After adventures that involve pirates, a crocodile, the fairy Tinker Bell, and a Native American princess the Darling children take the Lost Boys home with them and leave Peter Pan to his perpetual boyhood.

A production of the story is a natural progression for the Gisborne Homeschool Group, says the show’s director Aimee Goddard.

“Over the past few years, after each show we do, each child gets more confident and with that they want to branch out into bigger roles. Peter Pan fulfils the need for many different speaking parts, small, medium and large.

Along with Peter Pan, the play features Lost Boys, fairies, pirates, mermaids, Native Americans, a crocodile and even ordinary children from the world outside Neverland.

“It’s a ton of adventure and laughs,” says Goddard.

“What more could you want?”

Peter Pan is a classic mainstay in children’s literature, says mother of Emma who plays Two Moons.

“Our drama club is unique in that it exposes home-educated learners to classic pieces of literary art. The proof is in the pudding. Our home-educated learners asked for Peter Pan, not only for its entertainment value, but due to its appeal across generations.”

Peter Pan, presented by the Gisborne Homeschool Group, War Memorial Theatre, Saturday at 6pm and Sunday at 2pm. A school performance will be held on Monday at 10am. Tickets at the door, $8. Or email gisbornehomeschooldrama@gmail.com for presales.

OF FAITH, AND TRUST, AND PIXIE DUST: Show director Aimee Goddard (back, third left) with the Gisborne Homeschool Group’s cast of 23 young actors, ranging in age from eight to 14, as they prepare to fly into the War Memorial Theatre for their production of Peter Pan this weekend. Absent from the picture is the fairy Tinkerbell who is played by a light and a bell. Picture supplied