Chichester Festival Youth Theatre travels to Cass Sculpture Foundation for its summer production, a tale of post-tsunami survival.
Running Wild by Michael Morpurgo comes in a new adaptation by Samuel Adamson (August 2-16).
Following the tragic death of his father, everyone is keen to help young Will. When his grandmother suggests an Indonesian holiday, it’s a dream opportunity to encounter the elephants he adores and learn about his own heritage. But no one could foresee the world-changing events of Boxing Day 2004. Or the remarkable elephant who would carry Will deep into the jungle after the tsunami.
But before he can allow the orang-utans, monkeys, snakes and other animals to heal his wounds, Will has to escape the hunters and their terrifying boss, the evil palm oil king, Mr Anthony.
Playing Will is 13-year-old Alfie Scott, from Chichester, who is delighted to have secured so major a part so soon after joining the youth theatre: “Will is quite awestruck,” Alfie says. “There is a scene in the play where he is really, really emotional, but throughout the play, once he goes into the rain forest and gets to know Oona the elephant, he starts to open up and you see a witty and funny side to him. He is very independent. This is a survival story really.”
Alfie joined the youth theatre straight after last year’s Christmas production, One Hundred and One Dalmatians: “I had wanted to join for quite a while, but I hadn’t put my name down on the list because I thought it would take too long.”
In the event, he was able to join up rapidly: “It’s really fun. It’s the people you meet. Everyone is really nice to each other. The directors are really nice to us. I am getting a lot of experience. I am learning a lot of new skills since I started doing Running Wild, seeing all the other actors around me and everything that is happening. I have got more confidence really. It’s also about learning how to act. I was in primary school plays, and I have been in inter-house competitions for drama at school (Bishop Luffa), but nothing of a standard like this. This is just surreal!
“I love it. I just love doing it. My parents have been going to Chichester Festival Theatre for quite a long time, just watching the shows. They take me along sometimes. I really enjoyed Guys and Dolls, and I enjoyed The Boy in Striped Pyjamas and The King’s Speech.
“I would like to have a career in acting. That would be really fun, but I am not sure I would be able to make it. The competition is really hard. But it would be really good to get spotted and to get the chance. I am just going to have to see where this takes me. But I love music as well. I want to be doing something creative. I don’t want to be stuck in an office. If I don’t do acting, I might try to start my own business or something, just doing something creative, like I said.”
Directed by Dale Rooks, Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s production of Running Wild sets out to capture the story through a montage of haunting soundscapes, jungle beats, chants and life-size puppetry by former War Horse puppeteers Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié. The audience will follow the production on foot through a variety of locations.