In this essay, I will present a summary of our working process in our adoption of The Jungle book”, originally written by Rudyard Kipling. I will also describe my participation in the project, achievements, first meeting with the audience and the final result.
There have been several different adoptions of The Jungle book through time, the most famous one may be Disney’s interpretation of the tale from 1967, as well as the new movie from 2016. However, our production was based on the script by Alexander Mork Eidem. Eidem created instead a dystopic world which takes place in year 2117 in central Stockholm. Everything is demolished, rotten, forgotten. The main figure in this story is Mowgli, an insecure and confused 16 year old girl who is living with the homeless people, since Mowgli's parents were murdered by the feared and loathed Shere Khan. Mowgli constantly meet new threats and dangers, such as hypnotic Kaa, the socialites Noppe and Joppe, and of course Shere Khan. Fortunately, she has two safe shoulders to lean on; Baloo and Bagheera who are her devoted foster parents. Through the play, we will follow Mowgli on her own journey in finding herself and a way to be accepted by the xenophobic society.
To elucidate, this is our final and greatest project we do in the esthetical program. It is the time where we combine both parts of the class; dance and drama, and create a whole production from scratch (except from the script, which was a new rule from this year). It all began in the start of our senior year, were we exchanged and suggested ideas for the production and script. Then our director, together with our other teachers, came across The Jungle Book and represented a variety of ideas about this story, including how we could lift and reflect current affairs and questions that we face in our daily society. Shortly afterwards we all agreed to the concept and manuscript. Then we started working in two ways; the first one being production work, were each of us chose a group with a specific focus and responsibility. The groups were costume, multimedia, scenography, make up and promotion/marketing. I personally chose scenography and during that time I got plenty of new experiences and learned very much. For instance creatively: how to widen your spectrum of imagination. Socially: how to work and communicate together in group. But also about matters I did not have any knowledge or practice from before, such as in lighting, shape, color and construction. In addition, we were a good group, despite some misunderstandings or ruckus in between times. Subsequently we tried to understand each other and compromise to find a solution to the problem. We always learned from our mistakes, as we all do in life. At the end of the day everyone did the best they could, which is an essential part in a collective work. So overall you could say that it was a motivating spirit throughout the process, which only makes us strive for better. To be better. To constantly challenging ourselves.
The second one was to constantly practice your specification in the school, alias drama or dance. Mine was dancing, so it all started with the whole class, including our teachers, brainstorming ideas and thoughts about dance styles, songs, costumes etc. In every step of this process our director took part, while critically and carefully thinking through every relation, effect, feeling in the dances. For instance she helped many dancers to find, learn and understand the concept and background in each dance as well as our character. Later on, we started to create and practice new choreographies composed either by ourselves or by our teachers, which we then learned in groups or in whole class. We were always retouching and developing to improve and make the dance even better, each time.
I was really happy and agog to find out I would play several small roles in the show, besides dancing. So I took upon myself to do research, because no matter dance or theater, you mutually have to find your character, your story. One of my main roles was a wolf, which illustrated a homeless, starving and alcoholic person. Another one was a monkey, which portrayed a snobby socialite. However, it is important to point out that none of the roles in this play depict an animal, we were all still humans, only reflecting our inner animal-behavior.
Personally, my main goal was to stay and play my character as authentic as possible. And in times of doubt or questioning, I would actually find that these two components (drama and dance) equally balance each other.
Last, but not least: The Premiere, 28/4 2017. Our result. Everything we worked and strived for so long finally hit the light and stage. From all the days we stayed late in school. From all the sickness that struck many of us. From all the tirelessly, yet tiring, practice. At one point we almost gave up, we were too tired to even speak or move a single body part. Because it did request a whole lot of strength both mentally and physically, support, focus and most of all- teamwork. Perhaps more than we anticipated. But then, when we made it to the premiere, it was all worth it. Wow, the happiness and freedom to stand on that stage right under the spotlight and wearing the final costumes and make-up, while being surrounded by the impressive scenography- was something incredible. A pure moment of euphoria. I must say, it was such a boost and motivation when you received response directly on stage, whether in form of laughter, applause or tears. The whole premiere was nerve-wrecking, naturally, yet different. Because we had never performed in front of a full audience and therefore it felt as if we were dancing, acting, feeling and performing for the very first time. Even though we have danced the routines and played the scenes so many times before, everything changed in that moment. As before, we continued to strive in order to improve ourselves and learn from each other after each performance. Talking about our achievements and mistakes. Looking back, we accomplished so much, both individually as well as in group under this period.
We learned. We grew. We lived.