Friday, April 11 — You’re probably familiar with the story of “Peter Pan.” A child refuses to grow up, lives in a mystical land called Neverland and fights pirates with the help of his fairy friend, the Darling siblings, and the Lost Boys. But what if instead of calling the Native Americans in the show racially explosive names like “redskins” and “Indians,” we actually place the story in India? That's what director Rob Roznowski set to find out.
In this unique production, the story takes places in India during British rule around 1890. The native Indians are portrayed by the MSU Bhangra team, who helped choreograph the performance. Instead of Captain Hook and Smee, the ships are taken over by women (including Mrs. Darling), representing the women sent to India from England to find husbands, a collective commonly referred to as the fishing fleet. The Lost Boys, from whose perspective the story is told, are not merely children refusing to grow up, but are the mixed-race children that were truly ostracized from society in the time period.
Dave Wendelberger, music director of the MSU Department of Theatre, said that the Pasant Theatre recently installed a brand-new fly system for this production, commenting that the owner of the installation company has never seen a Peter Pan production like this in his life.
In addition to the entertainment value, Wendelberger said there would be a detailed display in the lobby “providing historical context and dramaturgical analysis of all the research that went into this production and why the decisions were made to make the production how it is. People will definitely learn about the British Raj and the class system and the caste system that they may not have known before.”
Michigan State University Department of Theatre
2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Pasant Theatre, Wharton Center for Performing Arts
750 West Shaw Lane, East Lansing
(800) WHARTON, whartoncenter.com