The Wind in the Willows
"There is nothing--absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." - Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, Ch. 1
Kenneth Grahame’s ‘The Wind in the Willows’ is a children's story that lives in the hearts and minds of its readers through their whole lives. The book is a classic tale of river life and friendship. The story is surprisingly dark and thrilling in places and provides entertainment for all ages. The story confirms the power of close friends and courage to make a difference in the lives of others. It is funny, charming and in places, very English.
Alan Bennett’s adaptation for the stage was first performed at the Royal National Theatre in 1990 and has become a classic in its own right. Through the on-stage practical realisation of the characters we can see a glimpse of Kenneth Grahame's world and Bennett’s personality. We all see people we know on the river bank and come to love them. There is the quiet and naive Mole, the Oxbridge-educated Ratty, the gruff Badger and the dynamic and outrageousToad. Audiences care for them and will them to defeat the dark and menacing world of the weasels.
The piece has given us a facility to develop our use of theatrical devices within the presentation. Our staging has tried to highlight key themes within the piece such as friendship, hospitality, education, travel, class, culture, fear of the unknown, new experiences, moral/ethical behaviour. Highly exaggerated and physical performances are designed to magnify the themes and characters in a comic and instantly identifiable manner. We should also see their inadequacies and perhaps see our own. Aspects of Dance give further energy and colour to the performance that further defines this alien yet familiar setting. The set and lighting designs have also become more ambitious and we are proud of the work of our technicians in the creation of the river bank.
The ideas have been bravely developed between staff and students. All ideas have taken shape as rehearsals went on. It has been a pleasure to work with such enthusiasm, intelligence, sensitivity and a real sense of enjoyment.