This spring’s Middle School play, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, opens on Friday, May 5, with shows at 4pm and 7pm and continues on Saturday, May 6 at 7pm. The play is based on Salman Rushdie’s children’s book, which inspired by Islamic culture, Indian culture, Lewis Carroll, Baum, Brecht and the Beatles among other phantasmagorical forays into plot, theme and character. It was adapted for the stage by Tim Supple and David Tushingham and has also been made into an opera.
The romp into magical realism is not easily categorized, even by its cast.
Sixth grader Amelia S. plays the character Chorus 9. “It’s about Haroun, this boy who goes on an adventure to find this walrus that’s going to help him restore his father’s ability to tell stories,” she explained.
Fellow sixth grader Mae Mae W. portrays the Walrus (and Chorus 2). “I make happy endings,” she said. “I artificially synthesize them. It’s complicated.”
Middle & Upper School Theatre Teacher and Director Lorna Jordan selected this most unusual play first and foremost because Rushdie is a favorite author. “The way he delights in language and plays with words makes for some really enjoyable reading,” she said. It helps, too, that many in the cast were exposed to the book in fifth grade, “so they have an understanding of the deeper themes…I was really struck by the political commentary in the play, especially right now, it seemed timely, and the idea of censorship and free speech which is a major theme throughout.”
Before Haroun can find his way to the walrus, he must first meet up with the Egghead, an intellectual played eighth grader Max L. “The Egg is a soldier,” she said. “He takes Haroun to the Walrus.”
Then there’s the ear-splitting Princess Batcheat, portrayed by eighth grader Georgie W. The princess is a damsel in distress but with a twist. “She thinks of herself as a beautiful and amazing princess who’s a great singer but really she’s terrible. She has musical outbursts at random moments.”
Is the play a comedy or a drama? “It’s a mix of comedy and drama,” answered Georgie. It’s a very interesting play.”
Lorna explained that the play “allows for the cast and crew to get super creative. The props and costumes aren’t something you can just go out and buy because they are so specific to this show. I spent a good amount of my spring break crafting,” she confides. “Having all that creativity and originality in the show makes it really special.”
Seventh grader Madty W. graces the boards as General Kitab, fierce commander of the Guppee army. “We’re the good guys. The play’s got many crazy aspects and it’s all about a mystical childhood fantasy that comes to life. It starts out as a traditional fairy tale but then derails from that completely. I like that about this play. It’s a wonderful show.”
The biggest challenge by far, said Lorna, is it’s, well, wackiness. “It’s split into 30+ scenes that take place in so many different settings, so trying to keep the piece moving quickly and in a versatile way has been a big challenge… The story is sweet, thoughtful, zany, topical and magical. There is something for everyone.”
CAST OF HAROUN AND THE SEA OF STORIES
Mae Mae W
CREW OF HAROUN AND THE SEA OF STORIES