chapter  13
13 Pages

Peter Pan and feminist theatre studies

WithMaaike Bleeker

Peter Pan is a play that, despite all the criticism of the world of adults, confirms conventional gender roles in such an extreme manner that it is almost painful viewing for an early twenty-first-century audience in theatre. The play provides an example of Judith Butler's observations about gender as performance before the terms even existed. The role of Peter Pan contains a perspective on gender — a perspective that is expressed in the proposed choreography for the role — whereas the actress' performance contains a perspective on the role. The role is viewed from and embodied in the cultural historical moment of the performance, including its accompanying conscious and unconscious presuppositions about what is believable, attractive, and interesting and what is not. The distinction between choreography and performance can thereby help to focus the attention on the complex combined play of perspectives and behaviour that negotiates the way in which Peter Pan can be played and viewed.