Single Carrot Theatre enjoyed success with its first “community-based” project last season — “Promenade,” a production that had audiences traveling by bus through various neighborhoods as various scenes played out on streets and sidewalks. The company has begun work on a second for this season, a new adaptation by Josh Conkel of the 1911 J. M. Barrie novel “Peter Pan,” a version that will have a gay sensibility.
“We want to involve voices from Baltimore’s LGBTQ+ community,” says Single Carrot artistic director Genevieve de Mahy. “We’ve been talking with people in the community, talking about their experiences and how they relate to themes in ‘Peter Pan’ — growing up, gender and body issues, imagination and escaping, fear of aging.”
In addition to reaching out to such organizations as GLCCB, Chase Brexton LGBT Health Resource Center, LGBTQ Life at JHU, and GLSEN Maryland, Single Carrot will hold an open “story-sharing workshop” Wednesday evening to gather more input.
The Los Angeles-based Conkel, a playwright whose “MilkMilkLemonade” was staged by Single Carrot a few years ago and who currently writes for the Netflix show “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” will attend the workshop. He has also been meeting with community members for the past few days.
“There are people who don’t have it as easy as I do, and I feel the onus to get their stories into the play,” Conkel says.
The famous musical version of “Peter Pan,” broadcast in the 1950s, was already “pretty queer,” Conkel says, “with a middle-aged woman [Mary Martin] playing Peter.”
Conkel plans to write his adaptation over the next several months, returning to Baltimore for a workshop in January. The premiere is scheduled for late April.
“All of my writing is high-brow/low-brow, funny/sad,” he says. “I would like to incorporate music, but it won’t be a musical. And I’m not super-interested in having a flying system [to let Peter fly about the theater]. I might save some of the Victorian language — ‘I shan’t go’ — I love that.”
One thing is for sure, this being a Single Carrot venture — “It will not be a children’s story,” de Mahy says.