Wendy and Peter Pan RSC; Exploring the themes of time and memory

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Theatre to Cinema: Stage Pictorialism and the Early Feature Film (1993)

In the above book Brewster et al discuss the transition of ideas across the two mediums of theatre and early cinema. It is interesting to note the suggestion in this book that this tradition of transposing ideas in this way has been around from the ‘1913’s’.

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Today, in modern cinema there are still plentiful examples of films being crafted from other mediums. For example, Romeo and Juliet, which according to Brode (2001: 42) could quite well be the ‘most film-played text of all time’ demonstrates how even an old text can still be interpreted and bring interest to a modern-day audience via the screen.

In creating an experimental film, it was hugely helpful for me to see a show which already had fantastical elements and  which was also an older classic which still lives on, so I took a trip to the RSC. Being shown was an updated and at least I felt a symbolically deeper interpretation of the book Peter Pan by J.M Barrie.

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The show ‘Peter Pan and Wendy’ dealt with lots of themes that are touched on in the original book. Love, death and of course a young boy who really doesn’t want to grow up, much to the annoyance of a heartbroken Wendy.

Within the RSC performance this was dealt with in reference to the suffragette movement, and a reluctance to face up to the change and responsibility of equality.  I personally felt really touched by the use of a childhood favourite to deal with the theme of growing up in this way.

“I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us, isn’t that right?”

In Peter Pan, the characters spend all of their time running away from the crocodile Tik Tok. Within the show the crocodile was a really sinister creature so I’m not surprised, I probably would have done too but this representation of time as some thing to fear provoked thought within me.

I realised that childhood fantasia was therefore, an interesting way to deal with time and memory and somewhat ironically growing up.

I hope that my new interpretation of peter pan will come across well on film. Without an obvious narrative, as I want the audience to take the message in a way that is personal to them, my film will be based around the theme of time and memory in the context of growing up and puberty. Even after a tough fight Peter Pan still becomes what he fears, a man.

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The thing that it excites me most in taking a classic text in this way is the fact that the J.M Barrie classic has been interpreted into plenty of formats before, other spin-off books, radio plays and even multiple Disney films to name a few, all with a different take on the story. To be truly experimental however, my aim is to take a whole new slant on the theme of time and memory, which will take the viewer to a whole new time using a mix of existing memories.

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