Over 2,000 actors answered the casting call in Paris for "Jungle Book"
Photo: Jean-Louis Fernandez
Director Robert Wilson has said that his work is “more closely related to animal behaviour” than to what’s traditionally taught in acting school--a vision that is bound to serve “Jungle Book”, his next adaptation, well.
The world premiere of “Jungle Book” will take place in Luxembourg’s Grand Théâtre at the end of the month, with shows on 26-28 April.
Speaking at a press conference at the venue on Tuesday, where the team is well underway in final rehearsals, Wilson said, “Jungle Book is a journey of a young person in different worlds, whether one of nature, one of dreams, a manmade world…it’s about discoveries.”
“The body hears”
At the heart of the classic Rudyard Kipling tale is Mowgli’s journey with his animal friends in the jungle, but fans of Wilson should be eager to see his interpretation of the piece on stage. Collaborating on Wilson’s vision is American surreal folk band CocoRosie, founded in 2003 by sisters Bianca and Sierra Casady and set to soon release its seventh album. This won’t be the first time they’ve collaborated together: CocoRosie also composed scores for other Wilson productions, namely “Peter Pan” (Berlin, 2013), “Pushkin’s Fairy Tales” (Moscow, 2015) and “Edda” (Oslo, 2017).
CocoRosie’s Bianca Casady said the collab had been “easy from the start to merge into [Wilson’s] world, the theatrical world, and push extremes a little more”.
To create the sounds of the jungle, she said the band had to look no further than old instruments that had been lying around in their studio in the south of France--flutes and wooden marimbas, for instance. But, given that the dialogue of “Jungle Book” will be in French and the lyrics are in English, they also called upon the actors to write some of the missing pieces. “I was curious what their rhythm was, how it related to the music,” she said. From this, for example, a snake rap was created, during which she says the actors really “come alive”.
Robert Wilson (centre) has said he stages in silence before adding sound. Photo: Jean-Louis Fernandez
Wilson, who was in Luxembourg last autumn to direct the classic “La Traviata”, says he has been surprised how few singers, even professional ones, truly hear music. He tends to stage in silence first before adding sound. “The body hears, we don’t just hear with our eardrums,” he said, later adding: “You don’t express music. You receive and feel music, and that will be your expression.”
When it comes to theatre, he takes a similar approach in the sense that he spends a lot of time for simple, taken-for-granted behaviours. One of the first things he does with his actors, for example, is spend a lot of time just standing or walking, basic behaviours which can reveal so much. “Most techniques taught in school are wrong for my work, they’re too polished, intellectual. But what’s going on in the mind? The mind is a muscle.”
As Tom Leick-Burns, artistic director of Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, pointed out, it will be interesting to see how Wilson’s approach translates to the upcoming world premiere of “Jungle Book”. “The fact that these are animals [the actors] are portraying adds another layer…how these creatures come to life in that world, I’m excited to see that,” he said.
The music production is accessible for families and youngsters. As Wilson said at the close of Tuesday’s press conference, “Any great work should be for a child, and for any great actor, it’s important to see that child in you…that’s what will break our hearts.”
Catch “Jungle Book” during its run on 26-28 April at the Grand Théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg. For more information or tickets, visit theatres.lu