Last weekend’s Theatre Tours, produced by teenagers from the Peter Pan Moat Brae Youth Forum and led by young actors from the Junior Guild of Players, was a Fringe event in the Big DoG Children’s Book Festival in Dumfries. This exciting collaboration between Moat Brae and The Theatre Royal, Dumfries was directed and organised by Anna Meldrum.
Members of the cast took family audiences back in time to 1876 to discover a behind-the-scenes perspective on the Theatre Royal through the eyes of fifteen year old JM Barrie. They also met Theatre Designer CJ Phipps and young performers staged an excerpt from Barrie’s first play – Bandelero the Bandit.
Six audiences were given the Tour during the weekend and were entertained with a mix of historical information, a chance to tread the boards on stage, to step into the wings and explore the props stores. They found out about how the theatre has changed and developed over the years and enjoyed a Peter Pan – inspired treasure hunt. The highlight of each tour was the costume department where all the visitors, from toddlers up to eighty year olds, smelled the grease-paint and discovered their actor within dressing up in cloaks and hats and creating all sorts of interesting characters.
JM Barrie made a final appearance to finish off the tour, doffing his hat to the audience in the guise of an older man who had grown up to become one of the greatest playwrights of his generation and the creator of legendary play Peter Pan.
The JM Barrie tours were a Fringe Event in the new Big DoG Children’s Book Festival run by Wigtown Festival Company. Other Moat Brae Youth Forum events in the festival included a Peter Pan Arts, Crafts and Storytelling afternoon with Anne Errington and The Scribbling Zone in Dumfries High Street with graphic novelists Stref and Fin Cramb.
Moat Brae is the ‘enchanted land’ that provided early inspiration to author JM Barrie when he spent ‘the happiest days’ of his life as a teenager in 1870’s Dumfries. The Birthplace of Peter Pan will soon be restored and transformed into a National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling which is due to open to the public in 2018.
Images by Maria Correa