July 15th, 2018

Hatterland adopting theatre-in-the-round format for ‘Jungle Book’

By Chris Brown on January 12, 2018.


Change is in the air for Hatterland Children’s Theatre.

Longtime residents of the Black Box Theatre in the Medicine Hat College Cultural Centre, the group makes its debut next week at the Esplanade Studio Theatre presenting “The Jungle Book” from Jan. 18-20.

The move offers more seats in the new venue and the chance to give a different experience to both the audience and the performers, namely theatre in the round, where the main stage is in the middle of the room and the audience is seated all around the stage.

“The actors are acting in 360 degrees,” explains director Lilas Litousky. “We make use of the aisles as acting space as well. This way the audience actually feels like they’re part of the jungle.”

For many of the performers it’s the first time doing this style of play but they are handling it well, Litousky said.

“There’s a lot more movement that goes on because they’ve realized they have to keep themselves available to each part of the audience. If they realize that one part of the audience hasn’t been seeing enough of the front of them they shift and move. It’s really added to the experience of the actors.”

This version of the play is based on Rudyard Kipling’s “Mowgli Stories” and is almost two plays in one, Litousky explains.

“Not only does it go through the ‘Jungle Book’ stories that everybody knows and loves, but it also explains how that story came to be according to the playwright,” she said. “We actually go back and forth between the boarding school that Kipling was in and the stories that he created. You get to see the historical aspect of different things that could have influenced Rudyard Kipling as he was creating the story and then ‘The Jungle Book’ story itself.”

Shows are 7 p.m. each night and at 2 p.m. on Jan. 20.

Tickets, $12 plus service charge and GST, are available in advance at http://www.tixx.ca, by calling 403-502-8777 or in person at the Esplanade box office or the Medicine Hat Mall customer service desk. They can also be purchased at the door for $15, cash only.

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