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a new musical


WELCOME! Welcome to Finding Neverland! In this Toolkit, you will find everything you need to prepare for this very special world-premiere musical—well, everything except a healthy imagination and love of adventure! In addition to historical features, interviews with the cast and creative team, and insights into the process of creating Finding Neverland, we have also included a one-day lesson plan to bridge students’ experiences at the theater with classroom learning. As always, please contact the A.R.T. Education and Community Programs department to inquire about the A.R.T.’s in- and out-of-school programming this season. We can’t wait to see you at the theater! The A.R.T. Education Staff




Finding Neverland Toolkit

Supervising Editor Brendan Shea

Designers Mackie Saylor and Rachel Pantazis Contributors Christian Ronald, Rachel Pantazis, Mackie Saylor, Brendan Shea, Maria Tatar, Georgia Young


Thank you for participating in the A.R.T. experience! If you have questions about using this toolkit in your class or to schedule an A.R.T.teaching artist to help facilitate Toolkit marterials in your classroom, email the A.R.T. Education and Community Programs department at: 617.496.2000 X8834



J.M. Barrie was taking a massive artistic risk by writing the original play Peter Pan. At that time, around 1904, London audiences were used to melodramas dealing with adult issues, not stories about fairies and pirates. And they were especially unfamiliar with plays families could see together, plays written for children and adult audiences alike. Fortunately, producer Charles Frohman loved Barrie’s “Fairy Play,” and became a passionate supporter—even going so far as acting out his favorite scenes for potential investors. Not everyone was so convinced, however...

George S helton as the ori ginal “Sm ee”

“Barrie has gone out of his mind, Frohman. I am sorry to say it; but you ought to know it. He has written four acts all about fairies, children, and Indians running through the most incoherent story you ever listened to; and what do you suppose? The last act is to be set on top of trees.” Actor, Beerbohm Tree A Letter to Charles Frohman on Peter Pan


Audiences disagreed. Peter Pan opened to an ecstatic audience at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London on December 27, 1904. It became an instant classic, and within 10 years of his birth, the boy who wouldn’t grow up became a British national treasure.

Original Peter Nina Boucicault remembers the opening night of Peter Pan: “I shall never forget waiting to make my entrance on the first night… I remember that I had been rather anxious about the scene where Peter appeals to the audience to clap if they believe in fairies. “Suppose they don’t clap?” I had asked. “What do I do then?” But... clap! I think everyone in the house believed in fairies!”


TO THE FIVE “What I want to do first is to give Peter to the Five without whom he never would have existed…” - J.M. Barrie Written over twenty years after the death of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, thus begins the introduction to the published version of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Barrie fondly remembers Kensington Garden, dressing up Porthos as a tiger, and telling stories to the boys that inspired the fairy tale we know today. Barrie credits the five Llewelyn Davies boys as the true authors of the play.

To the... FIVE? The four Llewelyn Davies boys in Finding Neverland actually had a younger brother Nicholas, or Nico for short. He was born in 1903, making the boys a group of five.

“That is all [Peter Pan] is,

... the spark I got from you.”



From an early age, J.M. Barrie was an avid sportsman and lover of games. Barrie ran an amateur cricket team that boasted other famous members, like Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Book), H.G. Wells (The War of the Worlds), and Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes). Barrie passed on his passion for games to the Llewelyn Davies boys, who would compete for hours at cricket, croquet, baminton, tennis, or billiards.

As a literary man, Barrie also had a love for words. He would often make up riddles and tell stories with Sylvia and the boys. His passion for words obviously rubbed off on George, Jack, Michael, Peter, who were all voracious readers and impressive students in school.




Barrie bought Porthos the St. Bernard as a honeymoon present for his wife Mary in Switzerland in 1894, several years before meeting Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and her boys. Porthos became Barrie’s companion on his walks through Kensington Gardens, and the giant dog always attracted visitors, including George, Jack, Peter, and Michael Llewelyn Davies. By complete coincidence, Barrie had named Porthos after the St. Bernard in a novel written by Sylvia’s father, George du Maurier, whom he admired as a writer.


A KINDRED SPIRIT: SYLVIA LLEWELYN DAVIES Sylvia Jocelyn Llewelyn Davies and J.M. Barrie became very close friends as Barrie spent more and more time with the boys. In Sylvia, Barrie found a kindred spirit: although both were prone to bouts of melancholy, they loved children and had the utmost respect for fun and adventure. Sylvia dedicated her life to protecting the happiness of her sons and entrusted their care to her mother, their nanny, and Barrie himself after her death in 1910. On February 20, 1906, Barrie organized a house performance called “Peter Pan in Michael’s Nursery,” for the benefit of Michael who was sick in bed and couldn’t come to London to see Peter Pan. This show brought the cast members and part of the set from the Duke of York’s Theatre right into the Llewelyn Davies home. This story serves as the inspiration for Barrie’s special performance for Sylvia in Finding Neverland, demonstrating the lengths to which Barrie was willing to go for the Llewellyn Davies family.


THE OTHER WOMEN BEHIND PETER PAN Although the character Peter Pan is a young boy, the actors playing Peter on stage are often women!

Nina Bouciault, 1904

Maude Adams, 1905

Cathy Rigby, featured above, played Peter on Broadway and on tour for 13 years. Rigby gave her final performance at the age of sixty! Mary Martin, 1954


Sandy Duncan, 1979


“I have two beautiful young girls who are 7 and 10… I watched the movie with both my daughters when I was thinking about taking on the show... I saw their eyes light up. It’s such a sensitive story about childhood and about growing up and about the role of imagination in your life.” Diane on Finding Neverland

With FN choreographer, Mia Michaels

Diane Paulus is a director of theatre and opera. She is also the Artistic Director of the A.R.T. Her unique approach to theatre, especially musicals, puts the audience experience first. Her mission is to expand the boundaries of theatre. She was selected for TIME Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of 2014. She received the Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical in 2013 (Pippin).

Look for more interviews with the creative staff of Finding Neverland in the 2014-2015 guide.

DID YOU KNOW? A Tony Award is the theatre equivalent to an Oscar. The awards honor the very best of Broadway!



Do you remember your first experience with Peter Pan? HAYDEN: I was three and I had a book of all these children’s stories going back to the 1800s. One of the stories was Peter Pan and that’s how I first came to know him. SAWYER: I first saw the Disney movie when I was young. I was kind of that kid who was jumping around on the couch pretending to be Peter Pan. What I really fell in love with was the fact that Peter Pan was always optimistic. That sort of relates to the story we’re doing right now. In this show, not everything is peachy-keen-milk-and-cookies, you know what I mean? But if we see the optimistic side of what’s facing us, it can make things a whole lot better.

Do you want to be like Peter Pan and never grow up? AIDAN: I think Hayden wants to grow up. HAYDEN: Yeah, I do. AIDAN: I never want to grow up, I like my childhood. SAWYER: I’m alright. I’m good right now. ALEX: Yeah, I think I’m good, too, at least for a while.

Do you think it’s especially important for people your age to see this production? ALEX: Yes. Some kids who see Finding Neverland might be going through a similar situation to this family. I think this play might help kids get a better attitude about bad things that happen in their lives.



FAITH, TRUST, AND PIXIE DUST For over a century, Peter Pan has captivated audiences all over the world. It has inspired new stories for each generation, including plays like Peter and the Starcatcher and films like Hook and Finding Neverland. Born out of J.M. Barrie’s boundless imagination, inspired by his adventures with the Llewelyn Davies family, and realized by a fearless company of actors and artists, Peter Pan was a truly collaborative effort from start to finish. Like all new musicals, Finding Neverland is also a collaborative undertaking, having brought together disparate artists from music, theatre, and dance to create a magical night in the theater.


Notable British sculptor Sir George Frampton was commissioned to build a statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens in 1911 (right). This bronze statue, which also features fairies and other creatures, still stands today as a pilgrimage site for fans from around the world.


DID YOU KNOW? The original cast of Peter Pan had to take out life insurance policies in order to use the flying equiptment specially constructed for the production.

The play was so popular in Britain that it was revived on the West End every year from 1904-1962 except for two—and those were during World War II air raids!

When producer Charles Frohman opened the first Broadway production in 1905, Mark Twain called the play “a great and refining and uplifting benefaction in this sordid and money-mad age.”



BETWIXT AND BETWEEN By Maria Tatar How do we explain Peter Pan’s enduring hold on our imagination? Why do we get hooked (and I use the term with all due deliberation) when we are children and continue to remain under the spell as adults? J. M. Barrie once observed that Huck Finn was “the greatest boy in fiction,” and Huck, who would rather go to hell than become civilized, may have inspired the rebellious streak found in Peter Pan. Like Dorothy, who does not want to return to Kansas in The Emerald City of Oz, Huck and Peter have won us over with their love of adventure, their streaks of poetry, their wide-eyed and wise innocence, and their deep appreciation of what it means to be alive. They all refuse to grow up and tarnish their sense of wonder and openness to new experiences.... The expansive energy of Peter and Wendy is not easy to define, but it has something to do with the book’s power to inspire faith in the aesthetic, cognitive, and emotional gains of imaginative play. As sensation seekers, children delight in the novel’s playful possibilities and its exploration of what it means to be on your own. In Neverland, they move past a sense of giddy disorientation to explore how children cope when they are transplanted from the nursery into a world of conflict, desire, pathos, and horror. Adults may not be able to land on that island, but they have the chance to go back vicariously and to repair their own damaged sense of wonder.


Like Lewis Carroll, who developed and refined his storytelling skills by co-narrating (telling stories with children rather than to them), Barrie did not just sit at his desk and compose adventures. He spent time with young boys — above all, the five he adopted — playing cricket, fishing, staging pirate games, and, most important, improvising tales.... “If you believe,” Peter shouts, “clap your hands; don’t let Tink die.” In urging the suspension of disbelief, Peter not only exhorts readers young and old to have faith in fairies (and fiction) but also urges them to join hands as they enter a story world in a visceral, almost kinetic manner. Whether entering Neverland for the first time or returning to it, we clap for Tink and, before long, begin to breathe the very air of the island as we read the words describing it.

Excerpted from the 2014-2015 A.R.T. Season Guide


AFTER THE SHOW: CREATING A NEW NEVERLAND In this 45-minute lesson mixing performance exercises and writing, students create their own magical islands modeled on J.M. Barrie’s Neverland from Peter Pan. Exploring An Island (5 minutes): As a group, get on your feet in an open space. You are walking around an island. Move through the entire space, staying aware of others around you - avoid bumping in to others. Then the environment begins to change: tell the students they are walking through mud, slowly rising water, in the rain, into a cold wind, in a sandy desert with the hot sun shining on them—take suggestions from the class. How do their movements change in response to the changing landscape? How does their physicality change based on the weather? Remembering Neverland (5 minutes): What were the features and creatures of Neverland? Record a list of the landscapes, architecture, creatures, and weather of the island, based on student recollections from Finding Neverland and other versions of Peter Pan they’ve read or seen on stage or film. Excerpt from Peter Pan (5 minutes): Read Barrie’s description of Neverland from Peter Pan (see next page). How does it differ from what the class remembered? Build A New Neverland (20 minutes): Working individually, students will write a description of their own magical island. Include details of the natural landscape, the built structures, creatures inhabiting the island, and weather, writing a short paragraph for each. Describe everything but the people who live there. Embodying New Neverland (10 minutes): Ask several volunteers to read their descriptions aloud. EXTRA CHALLENGE: As students read aloud, have one student walk around, changing their movements as they encounter different elements of the island being described. EXTENSION ACTIVITY: Students will write a 10-minute play set on their islands. Brainstorm two characters who live on the island. Consider a conflict they face— either they are clashing with each other (Hook vs. Pan) or they have to deal with an outside conflict together (invaders from another world). Break the writing into three parts, aiming for 10-20 lines per section: 1. The critical moment, where a character has a sudden, striking realization, makes a big decision, or is otherwise forced to act. 2. The beginning, where you establish the rules and norms of your world and introduce characters, before the critical moment of conflict occurs, 3. The end: is the situation resolved? How is it resolved? What image or idea do you want your audience to walk aawy with?


Peter Pan or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up by J.M. Barrie (excerpt) “The first thing seen is merely some whitish dots trudging along the sward, and you can guess from their tinkling that they are probably fairies of the commoner sort going home afoot from some party and having a cheery tiff by the way. Then Peter’s star wakes up, and in the blink of it, which is much stronger than in our stars, you can make out masses of trees, and you think you see wild beasts stealing past to drink, though what you see is not the beasts themselves but only the shadows of them. They are really out pictorially to greet Peter in the way they think he would like them to greet him; and for the same reason the mermaids basking in the lagoon beyond the trees are carefully combing their hair; and for the same reason the pirates are landing invisibly from the longboat, invisibly to you but not to the redskins, whom none can see or hear because they are on the war-path. The whole island, in short, which has been having a slack time in Peter’s absence, is now in a ferment because the tidings has leaked out that he is on his way back; and everybody and everything know that they will catch it from him if they don’t give satisfaction. While you have been told this the sun (another of his servants) has been bestirring himself. Those of you who may have thought it wiser after all to begin this Act in spectacles may now take them off. What you see is the Never Land...It is an open-air scene, a forest, with a beautiful lagoon beyond but not really far away, for the Never Land is very compact, not large and sprawly with tedious distances between one adventure and another, but nicely crammed. It is summer time on the trees and on the lagoon but winter on the river, which is not remarkable on Peter’s island where all the four seasons may pass while you are filling a jug at the well. Peter’s home is at this very spot, but you could not point out the way into it even if you were told which is the entrance, not even if you were told that there are seven of them. You know now because you have just seen one of the lost boys emerge. Theholes in these seven great hollow trees are the ‘doors’ down to Peter’s home, and he made seven because, despite his cleverness, he thought seven boys must need seven doors.”


Profile for American Repertory Theater

A.R.T. Finding Neverland Toolkit  

A.R.T. Finding Neverland Toolkit