“Could you elaborate on that?” (Peter Pan Interview)

Neil Burch - Head of the Drama Department

Q: So why did you choose to do Peter Pan Jr. for this season?
A: I didn't select it actually; it was selected by Sydney Meiller and Taylor Crampton, since they were selected to be the seniors carrying on the tradition of high-skilled drama students directing and making all the artistic decisions for a middle school show. In years past, I have supervised the production, but this is the first year where I had someone else take over since I was busy. Heather Wilkens took over for me.
Q: So have you been supervising at all or popping in to check on it in any way?
A: My role has been essentially just helping out with tech things they may need assistance with.
Q: How do you feel about the overall end product?
A: I am incredibly proud of Sydney and Taylor’s work; they dove into this whole process graciously and have been excellent role models for these middle school students. They have provided them with a clear vision of the story and the other high school students that have worked on this production have done a great job of managing and also creating a flawless set.
Q: Have you had a chance to see a full run of the show?
A: No, my first time seeing the full show will be Wednesday the 23rd, the last dress run for the students. I have essentially seen the whole show in bits and pieces, but my first time officially seeing it in one run was on Wednesday.

Sydney Meiller - One of the directors for the production

Q: So you were one of the directors for this show, correct?
A: Yes
Q: How do you feel about the end product of the show
A: I think we’re almost ready for the show, I think we’re in a good spot for having two days left. I do feel that we’re performance ready now, but I think it’s good to have two days to finalize anything, especially with transitions between scenes.

Q: Any particular reason why you and Taylor chose this show?
A: No, not any personal reason. At the end of last year, we both had a list of shows and we got together for lunch one day and just went through pros and cons for all the shows we had chosen and we ultimately settled on the Disney version of Peter Pan Jr.
Q: Did you feel prepared to direct this show?
A: Yeah, it's definitely a stretch for me, but I’ve been preparing since last year. I’ve been looking forward to this since my freshman year. I don’t know; I felt like I was prepared, but it has definitely been a challenge. We had everything timed well and we didn’t have to rush which has been great, but I’m definitely ready to get back on the stage and act again. Regardless of that, I have loved the experience.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced when directing this show?
A: Definitely the set. Neither Taylor nor I had been involved in set design before. I’ve done practically everything else but never set design. We had to rework a lot of our ideas. Building and safety wise, a lot of things wouldn’t work especially since we don’t have a fly system and this show is very dependent on that. The original show had a lot of set pieces flying in and out, not to mention Peter Pan flying at all. A lot of our ideas were unrealistic since we were unable to do the quick transitions a fly system allows. One of the other difficulties we faced was directing the kids in general, middle schoolers in general have a problem listening, especially when they’re all together. They are better at listening individually to notes, but critiquing the performance as a whole was more difficult.
Q: What was it like working with another director?
A: Taylor and I work really well together. We have similar emotionally tendencies but our personalities are different. We don’t clash but I’m Type A and Taylor is more Type B. I did most of the work with music, and he did most of the work with blocking but we both choreographed a dance or two each. Taylor definitely took more control with acting, but we both gave notes. If a note was directly about something the other director did, we would privately communicate about it. So if he had a note regarding a dance I choreographed, he would ask me before giving the note to the cast.
Q: So you mentioned earlier that you thought the play is performance ready, what kinds of things are you finalizing right now to make it the best it can be?
A: Mostly set transitions and also just trying to make things clean and clear. Yesterday, during rehearsal about half the kids had their hand on the other person's shoulder during a dance, and the other half dropped their hand so we had to address the whole cast about keeping their hands up. It’s been little things like that to make it as clean as it can be. We’ve also been working on light and sound making it sharp and ready for opening night.
Q: Well, thank you for taking the time to interview with me today.
A: You’re welcome.