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Mast's 'Jungalbook' Dramatizes Kipling's Mowgli Stories

Play for young audiences focuses on loyalty, belonging, coming of age and courage

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March 30, 2011 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University student actors and drama pupils from Haven Middle School in Evanston will appear on stage together before live audiences for the first time in Edward Mast’s “Jungalbook” from April 8 through 17.

Directed by acclaimed Northwestern faculty member Betsy Quinn as part of the Theatre and Interpretation Center (TIC) of Northwestern University’s 30th Anniversary Season, this creative intertwining of the exotic jungle and the intense street life of the city was awarded the Distinguished Play Award by the American Alliance for Theatre Education.

Open to the public, performances will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, April 8; 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 9; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 10; 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14; 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, April 16; 7 p.m. Saturday, April 16; and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 17, at the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, on the Evanston campus. Post-show discussions with the production’s cast and creative team will follow the April 10 matinee and the April 14 evening performances. Northwestern’s family production is recommended for children aged 10 and older.

A special performance for elementary and middle school students, at 9:30 a.m. Friday, April 15, is open to Evanston and Chicago area schools and community groups. For more information, contact the TIC Box Office at (847) 491-7282 or email tic@northwestern.edu.

An evocative tale of loyalty, belonging, coming of age and courage based on the Mowgli stories of Rudyard Kipling, “Jungalbook” is set in an urban playground, bringing to life characters both contemporary and abiding. As a young boy reads about the “Laws of the Jungal,” his entire world transforms and his imagination takes him into the story to navigate through the animal gangs and ultimately confront his greatest fear.

“’Jungalbook’ is timeless,” said Quinn, who also serves as drama department chair of Evanston School District 65 schools and is a veteran drama teacher and arts department chair at Haven. “Kipling’s powerful characters and laws of the jungle speak to today’s audiences as strongly as they did more than 100 years ago. “’Jungalbook’ asks young and old alike the eternal questions: ‘Who am I? Where do I belong? And is my life motivated by fear or by love?’”

The play’s characters include Baloo, a bear who tutors Mowgli, an orphaned boy the jungle animals refer to as a “mancub”; Sherakhan, a tiger who killed the boy’s parents; Bagheera, a panther who protects the boy; and Akela, the wolf pack leader who raises the boy.

“Jungalbook” is a one-act play that runs 75 minutes.

Tickets for “Jungalbook” can be purchased through the TIC Box Office at (847) 491-7282 or online at www.communication.northwestern.edu/tic/performances/jungalbook/.