New take on The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book

Spectacular street-dance and breathtaking circus combine to bring Kipling’s classic Jungle Book crashing into the 21st century.

Fresh from its international tour, award-winning Metta Theatre’s critically-acclaimed reimagining of The Jungle Book promises to delight the whole family. Indian jungle becomes urban jungle as Portslade-based Alfa Marks takes the part of Mowgli in the show which tours to Worthing Theatres (Connaught Theatre, Saturday and Sunday, August 26 and 27; Saturday 2pm and 7pm and Sunday 11am and 2pm).

Metta’s Jungle Book is not based on the Disney films and does not feature any songs from those films. Instead the story is told with music, spoken word, hip-hop, circus and street dance, with a hip-hop electronic soundtrack which has been specially composed and recorded for the show by composer and sound designer Filipe Gomes.

Mowgli is finding her way in the urban jungle. And Alfa is delighted to come on board – in a production in which Mowgli is an aerial rope artist and the snake a Chinese pole artist.

“I am brand new to this production this year. It has been going for a year already, and I have been brought in to play Mowgli. I really love what (director) Poppy has done with it. She has used the medium of hip-hop, street dance and circus to bring the story to life and make it more relevant to today, and she has done it really well actually. The youth of today are going to identify with it a bit more.

“When I first told my mum I was doing The Jungle Book, she said ‘Oh, will you be having big costumes?’ I said ‘No, mum, no! This is the 21st century!’ Poppy has definitely taken the main story, but rather than being the Indian jungle, it is the urban jungle, and for me as a performer, it is great to be able to combine dance and circus skills. That is my background. Sometimes with circus you can get caught up with the tricks and it is hard to tell a story, but with the dance it is easier – and you have still got the wow factor.”

Alfa trained at the Brit School first and then the London Studio Centre, graduating with a BA in dance theatre: “After graduating, my first job was dancing for a circus company, and that was the first time I was exposed to circus. I didn’t know it was a job, and I just thought ‘Wow!’ I didn’t ever think I could do it, but I had a secret gene that I would love to. A couple of years later, there was an audition for Gerry Cottle’s quite traditional tented theatre company, and I auditioned as an apprentice dancer. I was three weeks at his circus school and then out on the road with his troupe. It was quite traditional, big feathers and skimpy outfits. There were six people on aerial silks, and we started on the back silks, just holding shapes until we were stronger and could do the full programme. And then I realised it was quite a hard life living in a truck! So I went freelance…”

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