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Q&A with the Playwright and Cast | SECOND STAR TO THE RIGHT

by Abby Lee, Dramaturg

The Rod Parker Playwriting Fellowship is the first time for many students to directly engage with a new work in performance, and it’s the first time for the playwright to see their writing on stage. This year’s Rod Parker is Second Star to the Right by Olivia Lindquist ’27. 

I recently sat down with Olivia and the cast to discuss the process of exploring an ever-changing script.

ABIGAIL LEE (Dramaturg): What was your first experience with Peter Pan?

ARI BIRD (PAN): I saw a regional theatre production when I was 2 and then watched the Cathy Rigby Peter Pan over and over and over again after that.

LEO SERVETAR (Understudy: Silas/John, Blaze, Scorpia): My family had a VHS tape of a stage show that my grandma sent us from New York, and we would watch it on our tube TV.

AL: What inspired you to write this play?

OLIVIA LINDQUIST (Playwright): To be completely honest, I got my burst of inspiration while on a break from another project. I knew I wanted to do a retelling and in order to do that, the parent work had to be in the public domain. I did some digging on J.M. Barrie’s life and decided I wanted to write a Peter Pan retelling but from the perspective of Hook. This was right around the time of Cruella coming out, so it definitely felt doable for an audience.

AL: What about the original story was most interesting to you? What did you most want to explore? 

OL: I really was always interested in how feminine Captain Hook was in the iterations I had seen. I really also love the idea of gender-bending one or two characters to flip up the dynamics. Making Hook a woman was probably my best decision.

AL: What is it like getting to see actors explore your work in rehearsal? 

OL: It’s an out-of-body experience just being at rehearsals. I used to do theatre so when I was writing it, I was picturing each scene in my head, and getting to watch it with real actors blows my mind every day. It’s more than I could ever hope for. It’s also usually embarrassing hearing your own writing read out to you, but with this, it’s being portrayed exactly as I intended (and the actor playing Peter Pan is doing wonders for my sinister characterization of him — his lines were the most difficult to write).

AL: What has been your favorite part of the rehearsal process so far?

ANNEKE SALVADORI (Claudette/Wendy): Getting to work with such an awesome group of people! Everyone in the rehearsal room brings such a bright energy to the space.

ANGELA KEON (Crystal): I love working with my friends in the cast and on the production team. It makes the rehearsals a fun and collaborative environment, which is extremely important when developing a new play.

AL: How is it working with Emerson students as designers and collaborators? How have they brought your vision to life?

OL: I am loving every bit of this process. The set models look amazing and much more elaborate than I ever could have hoped for. The fight choreography is beautiful to watch and the costumes, lighting, and sound designers are making me so excited to see everything together when we get to tech and dress rehearsals. I love that, unlike other Peter Pan adaptations for the stage, we really get this sort of brutal and eerie beauty of Neverland instead of just lots of tree foliage that we can see in other versions of the story.

AL: What is it like working on a new play?

CONNOR ROSSI (SMEE): Knowing this is the first production of Second Star has been nerve-wracking and very exciting. Creating characters around the beloved story that is known around the world with a new twist is thrilling. And with such a talented cast and crew the rehearsal process has been so much fun! 

LS: Working on a new play keeps you on your toes, which is something I appreciate. With a new play, everything becomes a conversation, we’ve “shaped” how this play is performed and what happens in it in a way that is much different than the rigid nature of well-worn texts. Even I feel like I’ve been able to contribute something to the way this play is understood.

AL: What are you most excited for the Emerson community to get out of this show? What do you want them to know before seeing it? 

AS: I think everyone will enjoy how beautiful the show is, with the sets and costumes and lighting designs, but my personal favorite part is the sword fights! It wouldn’t be Peter Pan without them.

CR: I am very excited to see how quickly the audience responds to the dark twist in this version of a story that is normally happy and whimsical. The audience is going to see how different the tale is from the book. 

OL: I am so excited for the Emerson community to watch this and see a different version of Captain Hook as well as understand that growing up isn’t as bad as it seems. I think they should be aware of the fact that this is a show with a lot of serious undertones, but we still found places to make us laugh and that ability to find comfort and humor in the bad is an important skill.

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