Nicholas W. McClellan
Nicholas W. McClellan

On June 27, 28 or 29, Van Wert Civic Theatre audience members will have an exciting opportunity to relive their childhood imaginations at the Summer Youth Theatre production of Disney’s Peter Pan, JR.

The iconic character of Peter Pan, brought to life by J.M. Barrie’s classic book, dives deep into the power and purpose of the imagination, especially from the perspective of children.

Our imagination allows us to play; to think of situations (possibly real or completely imagined) in a vivid, larger than life way. While at the time, it seems entirely for the sake of fun. Developing our imaginations helps us to become better thinkers and prepares us for decision-making. We test and make assumptions about how others and we will respond.

A major venue for the explorations of our imagination is through art. If you knew me as a child, it was no secret; I loved art. More specifically, I loved to draw.

With my pencil and scrap dot-matrix computer paper in hand, I sang: “Sharpen your pencil, grab some paper! Get ready… it’s almost time. Mark will show you how to get on the paper what’s in your mind! A rocket ship, a pair of shoes, a shooting star, and some kangaroos… on the Imagination Station.”

It’s the lyrics to Mark Kistler’s Imagination Station, a television program originally produced by PBS beginning in 1996 (preceded by Draw Squad in 1991 and Secret City in 1986). Mark Kistler brought three-dimensional drawing lessons to children through his television programs, countless books, and tours to schools and libraries across the country.

In the sixth grade, at the late Washington Elementary School, Mark Kistler visited my classmates and me. He wore a bright yellow jumpsuit with black straps on his waist, ankles, and wrists. His hair was in tight curls, and he had a thick black mustache. Markers were affixed to his suit, which proceeded down his shoulders and arms. He was so vivid as he sincerely spoke about the power of drawing in expressing the imagination.

About halfway through his demonstration, as the entire school watched, he asked for a volunteer from the audience.

While he scanned the crowd, I extended my chubby little arm as I high as I could (aided by a slight elevation of my rear), and a facial expression, which read, “Please, please, please pick me. My life is completely dependent upon this single childhood experience.”

Suddenly, he stopped scanning the crowd. His eyes stopped and stared at… the student next to me. I didn’t skip a beat, though. I got up and ran to the front of the auditorium before he could correct me.

That is correct. I stole the limelight, but for good reason. Expressing my imagination through drawing was a huge part of my identity (it still is). My hobby is my imagination, my creative thinking, a key component of a childhood mindset. In that way, I’m just like Peter Pan; I’ll never grow-up - just older.

It is possible to be a “grown-up in sheep’s clothing.” I am not suggesting anyone go to the extremes of Peter Pan, by refusing the responsibilities that come with being an adult, but it is possible and encouraged to let your imagination wander and still get all those adult things done.

I invite you to rekindle a particular aspect of your childhood by attending the VWCT Summer Youth Theatre’s production of Disney’s Peter Pan, JR., June 27, 28, & 29. Tickets are $10 at the door and reservations can be made starting June 23, from 2 to 6 p.m., by calling (419) 238-9689. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m., and the Sunday matinee begins at 2 p.m.

See you at the show!