Journey to Neverland

One-act cast of “Peter/Wendy” heads to district


Lenia Lange

Goodner (Wendy) and the cast rehearse for this weekend’s one-act play festival.

Senior Rachel Goodner has dedicated hundreds of hours to the theatre department, her roles ranging from stage managing to directing and performing. 

For Goodner, this year’s one-act play will be a bittersweet one. After doing tech for one-act in previous years, she is excited to be onstage  playing the beloved character of Wendy Darling in Jeremy Bloom’s “Peter/Wendy.”

“The stakes are a lot higher, but it’s also a lot more fun,” Goodner said. “Because it’s a very different feeling. Instead of learning different cues or different managing things you’re learning lines and blocking.”

Goodner and her castmates will be participating in a one-act play festival at Hirschi High School at 6 p.m. on March 4. Following their performance, Wichita Falls High School and Hirschi will also be showcasing their one-act plays before everyone goes to their first round of competition. 

Goodner’s main challenge with this role has been speaking with a British accent, but despite that she finds that this role comes naturally to her. 

”Whenever Peter shows up she’s very pushy and wants to know more about him,” Goodner said. “She’s very curious, and I think that’s a lot like me.”

Because of the competition aspect, expectations for one-act are higher than any other show. 

“You’re trying to make a show that is able to hold its ground,” Goodner said. “It’s also hard with this show because I don’t know what the judges are going to think about us doing a show that they already know.” 

Theatre teacher Zachary Jackson chose “Peter/Wendy,” hoping to bring his passion and love of the Peter Pan story to his students. 

“It’s simply the story of Peter and Wendy meeting and their adventures in Neverland,” Jackson said. “It’s really focused on their relationship and the ending is kind of ambiguous where you don’t really know if Wendy decides to stay with Peter and go back to Neverland or if she decides to stay in the nursery.”

One thing that makes this show stand out from the various other adaptations of the Peter Pan story is Bloom’s use of text from the original J.M. Barrie novel. 

“Some of the character’s lines are the narration that would happen in the book,” Jackson said. “And the characters are saying it when talking about themselves. So it’s not dialogue, but they’re telling the audience about themselves.” 

While the ultimate goal is to advance to the next round, Jackson has bigger goals for his cast. 

“One thing that you do anytime you have a cast is trying to create a family and make sure that everyone is feeling welcomed,” Jackson said. “I’ve been really hitting that hard with my cast. How to work with others, and how to create that working relationship, whether you have that relationship outside of school or outside of rehearsal.”

Senior Andrew Bird has the other leading role, playing everyone’s favorite eternal boy, Peter Pan. The two truly embody their characters, completing the family dynamic Jackson wants for the cast. 

“I argue with Rachel just as much as Peter argues with Wendy,” Bird said. “Being extra is a theatre kid thing so it kind of comes naturally to me.”

While Goodner has participated in one-act before, this is Bird’s first time. 

“I was only in theatre last year,” Bird said. “And the most I did was an improv show which wasn’t even scripted so this is definitely different.” 

Bird wants this experience to be fun and memorable for him.

“I want to be able to look at pictures of this and be like ‘that was it, that was my high school experience,’” Bird said. 

For many, this will be the end of their high school theatre careers, while some are just beginning their journey. Sophomore Jada Stroman, who is playing Tiger Lily, wants to give the best performance possible, fully diving into her role.

“It took me a while to sort of get her essence,” Stroman said. “I was able to find that through focusing on her dialogue and her character and interactions. And just really thinking about what she would do and how she would act. Just becoming her.”

This will be Stroman’s first high school one-act after doing it in middle school.

“It was a lot less pressure,” Stroman said. “I sort of knew the process, but this time there’s a lot more going into it, so it’s a lot more complicated I would say.”

Rounding out the cast is Jeff Ross as Captain Hook/Mr. Darling, Rylee Cargal as Tinkerbell, Emily Kintner as Smee/Mrs. Darling, Patrick Johnson as a lost boy and Zoe Wegman as a mermaid. Keegan Potter, Abby Crutchfield, Julia Fairchild, Weber Gilbert, Smita Smith, Alyssa Thomas, Grayson Thomas and Jordyn Whittington are understudies and alternates in addition to working various tech positions. 

UIL’s One-Act Play Contest is one of the largest high school play contests in the world with 14,000 plus students participating across the state every year. Each school performs an 18-40 minute play in front of a panel of judges, competing against similarly-sized schools.

After performing at the WFISD festival at Hirschi, Rider theatre will head to their district contest on March 9-10. 

“I chose this show because I knew we had the actors and actresses to pull this off,” Jackson said. “I would like us to advance, but regardless of what happens I am proud of where we are right now.”