LIMA — Opening the world of theater to youngsters of all ages is the focus of the 18th annual Theatre for Young Audiences at OSU-Lima, which presents “The Jungle Book” Sunday through Oct. 21.
“I teach introduction to theater,” said Margaret Anich, director of the performance. “One of the things I always ask my students is why do we need theater when we have TV and movies? People are obsessed with screens. But, I believe the theater offers a very special and unique bond between the performers and a live audience. It’s an interaction that doesn’t happen anywhere else,” Anich said.
Indeed, for the 2,000 grade schoolers around the area who will see this production during the day, they will learn the well-loved tale of the jungle boy Mowgli, who joins with friends Baloo the bear, Bagheera the panther, the Kaa the python, to learn the laws of the jungle. In fact, it becomes the fate of Mowgli to help defend the jungle from the man-eating tiger, Shere Khan.
In searching out this play, Anich said it fit all the criteria for a Theatre for Young Audiences. “It’s fun and familiar, and I was able to find a version that fit into our time frame,” Anich said of the 45-minute production.
Because the performance is interactive, Anich also had to coach her actors on how to perform before youngsters. “I told them to be prepared for anything. There is some audience interaction when we ask them to make sounds, so we have to be ready for that,” Anich said.
And for the Oct. 21 performance, half of all proceeds will go to the Allen County Humane Society, which will be present prior to the show with several cats and dogs. “I’m a volunteer for the Humane Society, and I thought this might help raise awareness. It’s a good fit because this show is about animals,” Anich said.