SOU Theatre Arts presents Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ By Richard Moeschl, Ashland Daily Tidings
Southern Oregon University’s Department of Theatre Arts continues its season of classic and contemporary plays with the opening of two very different shows. The department has a commitment to regular productions aimed at young audiences. In the past, the university has staged “Winnie the Pooh,” The Wind in the Willows” and (Aesop’s)“Fable Tales.” This year’s offering is Monica Flory’s adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic children’s story “The Jungle Book.” The play brings to life the tale of Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves, his schooling by a bear and panther, and the tiger that threatens his life. SOU Student Director Kevin Berg leads his 12 actors in an exploration of the disparate worlds of animals and humans, and the struggle to bridge the gap between them. The ensemble utilizes masks and movement to create a jungle environment. Live tribal music in the small theatre space underscores the voyage and fills the show with a jungle rhythm. “The physical life of the characters is quite fun,” says department chair Chris Sackett, adding “It’s not Walt Disney.” But true to its jungle setting, the play — while not violent — does depict the consequences if the head of the pack misses their kill. “They’re no longer the head of the pack,” Sackett says. “Mowgli learns lessons we hope he will carry into adult life.” Continuing the university’s relationship with Southern Oregon Education Service District, there will be a special performance for the hearing impaired. Vanessa Nowitzky will provide movement coaching, Ben Brown provides lighting and Lindsay Starr designed the costumes which include mask work and elaborate make up. “The Jungle Book” opens at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24 and runs Feb. 24-26 and March 3-5. Curtain times are Fridays at 7 p.m.; Saturdays at 11 p.m., 2 p.m., and 7 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m.