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All the World’s a Playground?

Posted on February 27, 2014 by Westwind Weekly

For children, and perhaps for all of us, play can be a serious thing. Not only does it provide diversion and delight, it can also help us imagine solutions to problems – large, small, everyday or unusual – that happen in real life.

Two groups of young people in Westwind School Division’s Alternate School have been eagerly preparing to step on stage and share a pair of famous stories about finding out who we are and what is real: “Neverland,” an adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, and William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Neverland revisits the classic Peter Pan tale of Lost Boys, pixie dust, and the genuine adventure of growing up. The play is being staged by a cast of 40 elementary-aged children, but playwright and co-director Margaret Hudson, 17, of Magrath, says it’s theatre put on by kids, not “children’s theatre.”

“I wanted to write a Peter Pan retelling that was real,” she explains. “In previous versions the characters are far-fetched, shallow and self-centered and that’s not what kids are really like. I wanted to create a play that reflected real children.”

Neverland is co-directed by Margaret and her mother, Rebecca Gorham. Music assistance is the contribution of Shaun Cahoon, also of Magrath.

Neverland is the first project of the fledgling Josh Burton Memorial Theatre, an organization devoted to helping creative young people earn funds for education and volunteer service opportunities through the theatrical arts.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream gives actors and audiences alike an opportunity to entertain the idea that we are always “growing up.” Although some see Shakespeare’s works as too outdated to be relevant or too complex to be helpful, his classic themes, outstanding characters, and spot-on insight into human nature add up to theatre that remains relevant, illuminating and entertaining.

Just ask the 20-plus dedicated students, aged 12 to 17, who began studying the play and working on an adapted script in October 2013.

“I’ve loved this – it’s been so much fun” is the common response to “How do you like doing Shakespeare?”

With a plot that weaves issues of parental control, free choice, complicated relationships, and finding one’s identity, A Midsummer Night’s Dream may prove more engaging and meaningful than Facebook.

Both plays will be on stage at Cardston’s Carriage House Theatre. All are warmly invited to attend. Performance dates are Thursday, March 6 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 8 at 2 p.m. for Neverland. A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be held both Friday, March 7 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 8 at 4:30 p.m.

We invite the audience to be seated 15 minutes prior to curtain time.

For tickets and special pricing, please call Brenda at Westwind Alternate School, 403-653-1547, during school hours.

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