Louise Gustafsson

My exam essay ’The Jungle Book 2017’


My exam essay involves the production of The Jungle Book 2017. The interpretation of The Jungle Book is from Rudyard Kipling’s novel from 1894 and have been dramatized by the Swedish-Norwegian theater director Alexander Mørk Eidem. The act takes place in around year 2117 in a future dystopia society, in a city overgrown with jungle. Everyone is trying to gain power over everybody else. The society is split over several minorities and certain areas belongs to every group. The Banana-Republic, a dance club, belongs to the monkeys, a big cliff is the home of the wolves and the snakes’ home is underground. In this dystopia monkeys are referred as brats, spoiled, superficial young adults who only cares about having fun and partying. Wolves are homeless people surviving on whatever they can find. There is also a tiger, two snakes, a panther, a bear, two vultures and a jackal. Every single one of them representing an ethnic group in the society. The animals are reflected as human beings with a slight of touch of the original animal inside which their role represents.

My participation in this production has been acting, a little bit of dancing and working with the stage design. As an actress I’ve played two roles, one that I was supposed to have and one other that later was assigned to me. As my original role I played a monkey called Joppe and had a co-actress, Filippa who played Noppe. We rehearsed together and tried to make our characters similar to each other but it was difficult because Filippa and I are so different. We had different opinions on several things on how to express and act on stage but with a little help from teachers we could compromise. For instance in scene seven we disagreed on how to walk out from the stage. Filippa wanted to go first but it didn’t work very well, because based on the interpretation of the script I, Joppe, was supposed to walk out first and Noppe right after. In the end we went with the teacher’s and mine idea. There were also moments when we agreed on something and the teacher didn’t, then we stood our ground united. As when the teacher wanted us to sing in a scene where it didn’t fit in at all. It was hard to satisfy the teacher’s request on everything because she changed her mind very often and had a strict idea about the scenes. The teacher wanted me to feel free on stage, but it was hard because then I didn’t do exactly like she wanted, so I changed back to what I did before, but then it was too stiff. When our second teacher stepped in, after being away, both Filippa and I felt freer on stage and we finally found our real characters. I believe our teacher got what you call tunnel vision. I also participated in two dances while playing Joppe. I didn’t work very much with my character and didn’t had so much opportunity to do it either. Many other students worked with our teacher with their characters, trying to find their role by experimenting playing a scene crying, being angry, frustrated, glad etc. But due to Filippa were sick a lot, I couldn’t try it because when she finally were in school either the teacher weren’t there or I was home sick. Instead we tried to experiment more with our roles while rehearsing on stage. My other role, a wolf called Raksha, wasn’t that hard to play so I didn’t have to work very much with that role at all. I only rehearsed on where and how to underline different things in the script. I kind of just threw myself out there on stage.

As a stage designer I have, together with my group, made an incredible scenography. We’ve designed the stage based on Sergel square in Stockholm in a future dystopia overgrown with jungle. Already the first week into the intense period everyone in the group had ideas on how the stage would look like. After some compromises and opinions from teachers we agreed on one idea where we would have a scaffold on half of upper stage, a ramp and a stair would be built to get down from it on either side. On lower stage we decided to have two stairs put together. I made a layout of the stage and after the group had confirmed it, a teacher approved it. Then the building of the stage began. Together we set up the scaffold and the building program approved it before anyone could enter it. We picked up the sections of the catwalk that we used upon the chairs in the audience and also brought Styrofoam back with us, which we used to cut out bricks in and later to put them up on the walls on the sides of the stage. I helped only a little with putting up the catwalk. Instead I designed the stairs and made two layouts so that others in the group could have something to say about it. I also contacted a construction worker to help us build the stairs. But after weeks of work, the layout that we’d decided, was scrapped. Then it was okay to ask the building program at our school to build the stairs for us. So I felt like a fool who had taken up the construction worker’s time with nothing. The stairs was built as two separate on wheels, one of them hollow so that Mowgli could go inside. Isabell and I put up a cloth to cover the side of the hollow stair and made it look like a cavern opening and we also put up some of the metal sheets on the side of the ramp. We used metal sheets to cover up some areas of the scaffold which an artist painted graffiti on, and on the stair up to the scaffold. I painted graffiti on our metal barrel which we used as a fire-bin, kind of fun actually. We painted graffiti to make the illusion of a city. I made the DJ-booth, built a mixer table on it and outlined the word ‘BANAN-REPUBLIKEN’ on the side of it. Together with two others we painted the DJ-booth black and the letters yellow. To get the feeling of being in a jungle, trees were made out of papier maché. I made the sandbox with two parents on the construction-evening. That evening we finished a lot of things. I outlined the word “SAND” on the sandbox and painted the letters black. I painted one of five trees, together with classmates. There were always some small fix to do every now and then that I haven’t mentioned in this exam essay because it’s hard to remember everything to the tiniest detail and there’s not enough room if I’m going to stick to the writing limits. I haven’t learned that much new, though I’ve refreshed my memory on several things, for instance, how a metal shear looks like. The things I’ve learned more about and can come up with right now, is how to do papier maché, set up a scaffold and paint graffiti. 

The meeting with the audience was both a disappointed and an incredible feeling! It was a disappointed feeling because some audiences didn’t came to watch us, but came to escape from classes. But we, in the ensemble, made the best of it and made our way through it. I have experienced meeting with different audiences on different occasions, while singing, dancing and of course while acting. Every time is a new experience because the audience response to what I and an ensemble do on stage in different ways. When I’ve been singing solo or with a group the crowd holds their breath for a long second in the end before you can hear them applaud. While dancing and acting the crowd usually applaud and shout during the show or play and also in the end. Both feelings you get from the different occasions feels wonderful. Though the most wonderful feeling of getting response from the audience while on stage, is when they applaud and shout during the act and when the act reaches the end of the show you can hear everyone in the audience holding their breath to take in what have just happened and then to break out in loud applause and shouts. The results of our hard work with the production with The Jungle Book 2017 is amazing. I believe everyone in the class, and the teachers, are proud of ourselves and of what we had accomplished. We got outstanding response from many in the audiences. Some even said that this was the best final school production that they had ever seen.

#1 - Lisa Fäger

Jag gillar din text jättemycket, dels för att den är strukturerad och förklarande men också för att den är personlig. Publikmötet var roligt att läsa för du beskrev det så bra. Även fast jag hade varit en utomstående slår jag vad om att jag skulle förstått skillnaden på publik och publik. Det enda som kanske saknades var vilka andra grupper som fanns mer än scenografi. Dock inget som man tänkte överdrivet mycket på då det andra var så bra beskrivet! :)