J.M. Barrie’s classic tells the story of Wendy, John and Michael Darling’s adventures in Neverland with the inimitable Peter Pan, “the boy who would not grow up.” In Neverland, the Darlings are introduced to the Lost Boys, Peter’s jealous fairy friend Tinker Bell, the infamous pirate Captain Hook, and the crocodile who swallowed Hook's hand. The action escalates when the Darlings are captured by Hook and, with Peter’s help, escape, taking the Lost Boys home with them.
A Note on the Play, October 2020
Peter Pan first took flight over a hundred years ago. One of the wonders of J M Barrie’s story is the way it has lodged in the imaginations of children in every corner of the globe, imagined and reimagined by generation after generation. Peter Pan famously refused to grow up, but the world has grown up around him. It is only right that the play evolves too.
We approach Peter Pan with very different eyes today than we would have over one hundred years ago. Barrie’s text reflects the attitudes, language and society prevalent at the place and moment of its inception, some of which can be challenging – even alien – to us today. While the emotional essence of Barrie’s story is timeless, its history is an integral part of its creation: woven into its fabric and a vital key to unpicking its meaning.
We therefore continue to provide access to the original text, as written, in all its complexity. We do so not to set it in stone, but to encourage performers of this play to recognise its roots, explore its flaws and grapple with the challenges that the language and some parts of the story present to a modern audience. We offer it as a living text to be interrogated and rejuvenated.
We do this in the belief that there is no one better placed to take on this challenge than those creatives who choose to bring this play to life. Every time the story of Peter Pan is lifted from the page to the stage it is renewed, and we hope the process of discovery will continue to take the play in bold new directions. In recent years, the original work has been adapted and updated in production by many creative practitioners, who have engaged with its challenges and, in doing so, have even helped enhance the magic at the heart of Barrie’s story.
We encourage you to work with us as you question the text, play with it and finally present it in a way that speaks both to and for your players and your audience.
In 1929 J M Barrie gifted all his rights in Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. In doing so, he ensured that this magical tale also provided practical support to those in need. Ever since, each performance has helped to raise funds for the hospital and the seriously ill children it cares for.
Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) is one of the world’s leading children’s hospitals. Its pioneering research and treatment gives hope to children with the rarest, most complex and often life-threatening conditions, and to their families.
Right now, in the midst of a global health crisis, and for the first time since the play premiered in 1904, theatres cannot open and share the story of Peter Pan.
By licensing the play in future you will be supporting Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, and continuing J M Barrie’s life-giving legacy.
To find out more about this vital cause visit www.gosh.org.