A few weeks ago we posted an interview with Marc Arthur about his highly anticipated theatrical adaptation of Peter and the Wolf. Alas, the time came and the time passed and now all we have to share are our memories, but the memories those that ventured out to see the play share are grand, for Marc’s adaptation truly dazzled. His vision was a unique one, with a cast largely made up of kids using live action painting and dance to tell the tale. After interviewing Marc (and since I have known his work for awhile) I had a sense that the play would truly break apart traditional theatrical conventions, but waited with bated breath to see if his description would match the actual experience of viewing the play.
After the lights dimmed and the play began all anxieties faded as the audience wandered into a fanciful tale full of color and extreme language rarely expressed through children. A favorite line of my girlfriend and mine was spoken by one little girl to the other and was something like, “Do you see what nature did to you?” The line was used as a jab, the little girl belittled was a duck that was regularly harassed and put down by the other girls for being unable to fly. Eventually the little duck burst into tears and confessed, “Because I love Justin Beiber.” The line invoked laughter in much of the audience, but in retrospect it truly was a peculiar laughter since so many little girls are caught in the same emotional reverie as the little duckling that couldn’t fly. Am I really that immature that I find humor in a little girls pain as she longs for her idol? I guess I too “am a sick man and a spiteful man,” the Grandfather quoted Fyodor Dostoevsky as s/he took the stage from a seat in the audience.
Breaking the wall between audience and show wasn’t the only way the play broke convention, in the end the whole play evolved into an auction house wherein the live-action painting that continually evolved throughout the play was bidded away at somewhere around 100,000 pounds. I’m sure every director in the audience cringed as they, for the first time, realized the enormous opportunity theater provides to auction off art. After this, the ballerina’s took stage again, by now though, their outfits and faces were covered in paint, another reminder of innocence’s fragile nature, the once clean little girls, like the rest of the characters, prove just how dirty and simultaneously beautiful the world can be.
Here’s a short little clip I took of a choreographed dance scene of Peter painting while the Ballerina’s took flight into reverie: