In rehearsal

HSS performs Jungalbook Nov. 17-19

Students from Hope Secondary School will be performing Jungalbook by Edward Mast at their school Nov. 17-19.

Students from Hope Secondary School will be performing Jungalbook by Edward Mast at their school Nov. 17-19.

The family-friendly adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic story will also compete in the Fraser Valley Theatre Zone Festival in Abbotsford this December.

Jungalbook is an award-winning theatre for young audiences script, recognized with the Distinguished Play Award from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education.

The story tells of the difficult journey to understand a person’s place in the world.  The script captures the themes of belonging, betrayal and excitement that generations of fans have come to expect from the original Kipling classic.

This adaptation returns to the familiar story of Mowgli, played by grade eight student Kai Hollmann, his teacher Baloo, played by Grade 12 student Jacob Chisholm, his secret protector Bagheera, played by grade eleven student Emma Link, and his tormentor Sherakhan, played by Grade 12 student Katharina Sevier-Fries.

The director and teacher at HSS came across the script more than ten years ago in the Vancouver Public Library while helping his wife, an accomplished director herself, find scripts for her own theatre company.

“I’ve had Jungalbook front of mind for a long time, waiting for the right opportunity to bring it to life,” said director Dave Dunster.  “It went with me overseas and back again before I felt I was part of the right pack to take it on!”

This “pack” includes a cast of 15 HSS students ranging from Grades 7-12 in more than 20 roles, student designers, student lead production crews and a lot of support from the school staff and local community.

With the heart of the story being summarized in the lesson, “One blood you and me,” it seems fitting that so many have had a part in pulling this together.

Significant student designs include makeup and hair design by Grade 12 student Hannah Goodkey, and an original theatrical score by Grade 11 student Isaiah Teerink.

“The bear necessities in this play have nothing to do with a sing-along; it is not a musical,” jokes Dunster.

Although both original songs from designer Isaiah Teerink and established hits from several artists play a significant role, nothing about Disney’s musical productions are revived in this version.

“We wanted the audience to be pulled into something that appears very real and familiar, but not compete with people’s childhood memories,” explains Dunster.

As such, the play is set in a nondescript urban jungle, with costumes and makeup that only suggest animals.  The focus in the minimalistic design is on the emotions and relationships, not only between the characters, but with the audience as well.

“It’s actually turned out to be less frightening than what I originally imagined, and we’re confident that’s better so that audiences of all ages will be thrilled with it,” says Dunster.   “Having held onto the script for a decade, I was a little worried I was too close to it; I had music and costumes picked years ago!

“However, with the support of these great designers, crew and cast, it’s become something I hadn’t imagined, and far better than my limited vision was giving it.”

Jungalbook plays at HSS on Nov. 17, 18, and 19 at 7:30 p.m. All seats are $8 and can be purchased by calling 604-869-9971, or at the door at 444 Stuart St. Hope, B.C.