Meet Chichester's Peter Pans!

Sami Green and Freddie Hill will be alternating in the role of Peter Pan for Chichester Festival Youth Theatre on the main-house stage at the CFT this Christmas (December 17-31).

Sami Green and Freddie Hill
Sami Green and Freddie Hill

For both, it is the fulfilment of a dream.

“I went through the audition process,” says 19-year-old Sami, who lives in Chichester and currently works at Chichester College.

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“We were given a bit of text and had to read with other people. I went for Captain Hook and for Peter Pan and I got Peter Pan.

“We got a letter of congratulations through the door! I was just so excited. Since being a little boy, I always wanted to play Peter Pan. It is just fantastic to get the chance.”

Freddie, aged 16, of Coldwaltham, is equally excited: “Peter Pan is all about this idea that this boy never grows up.

“It is about eternal youth, but the Chichester way of doing Peter Pan is very different to the usual way of doing Peter Pan.

“You think of the Disney character, and this definitely isn’t the Disney character! We have gone a lot more for the truth of J M Barrie.”

As Sami says: “There is a gritty side which is really interesting. He has been a child for so long that he has got the experience and intelligence of a 60-year-old, but he has still got the temperament of a 12-year-old.

“Peter can sulk and be pretty moody, but the great thing is that at the same time everything is just this fantastic adventure. You have got to show the excitement.”

It all adds up to a fantastic part to play – challenging and always interesting.

“ It is just brilliant to do. You just wish that everyone would be like that!”

“It’s a huge playing space as well,” Freddie adds. “You have got to really open yourself up. But it is quite nice. I can be true to myself. In the same sense, he is someone that I can relate to. Everyone has had a childhood and has played games and has got stroppy. You can understand that. I can play it as myself in a way.”

There is a darker side, of course, as Sami says: “It’s about J M Barrie’s dead brother, but I think the whole thing is really just a fantastic fantasy. There are these underlying themes. In the play, in the script, no one can touch Peter Pan, the soul of this boy that has never grown up, and that Neverland is like heaven.

“I don’t think he is a ghost. I think the whole idea is that he is life. He is good.”

Freddie has got the little matter of GCSEs hanging over him this year, but he insists it’s just great to be busy.

“For me, I find I work better when I have more things to battle. If you want to get something done, you ask a busy person. I think I work better the more deadlines I have got!”

Currently at Midhurst Rother College, Freddie is hoping to go on to sixth-form at Collyer’s in Horsham on his way to a career in acting.

Sami, meanwhile, is a learning support assistant at Chichester College: “I support kids with special needs, which I love. I am with a company that they set up called Theatre Inc.

“I would love to be an actor, but this is just such a fantastic job, helping the kids with special needs in the performing arts. They deal with such adversity every day, but they always turn up to college on time. They just keep at it and they are fantastic. They are so inspiring. They are just amazing.”

Acting remains the ambition, though: “I love so much working with them, but really my heart is set on acting.”

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