Year 6 venture into The Jungle Book

Under the watchful eye and direction of Elstree Head of Drama ‘Mrs Oliver’, Year 6 has been busy rehearsing Jessica Swale’s The Jungle book this term. After only a handful of rehearsals, Year 6 rose to the challenge and performed for a live stream earlier today.

Olivier Award winner Jessica Swale’s The Jungle Book 

For those unfamiliar with the story, The Jungle Book is about adventure, spirit and courage. It carefully addresses issues such as friendship, respect and belonging. Cleverly, it conveys the message of loving each other to survive as a harmonious community.  In her own words, Jessica Swale says:

The Jungle Book is, in one sense, one small person’s quest to work out who they are – whether they fit in, when they’re different from everyone else, and how to make their way in a world where they feel like an outsider. Yet, it is also a big story-the tale of a tribe, a great, big extended family, who must learn to love and respect each of their members as individuals if they are to survive as a community.”

 Magically inspired by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book stories have always held a magical appeal for Swale. Wanting to remain as true to the original stories as possible, Swale’s production – performed by our Year 6 – highlights the relationship between the jungle animals and Mowgli. Aiming to create a more contemporary and humorous feel, characters like Shere Khan is a wounded rock star; Bagheera is a sleek, bossy executive; and the funky monkeys are a gang of ‘homeboys’. Furthermore, characters Akela and Bagheera are females, not males, as in the original.

Elstree Year 6’s Production of Swale’s The Jungle Book 

Needless to say, Year 6 smashed their live stream performance today. Mrs Oliver was absolutely delighted with how hard Year 6 worked for their production. Here, she shares some of those highlight, stand-out moments:

“Koichi, as the smallest, but feistiest Baloo that’s ever been in the jungle. We tried to make him a lazy bear, but he just had too much bounce in his step…must be the honey!”

Favourite lines: 

“Oh I get it. You don’t think I’m parent material?”

“Baggy? Nah. Naggy, maybe.”

When contemplating how to eat Mowgli: “I wonder how I should eat it. Head first? Or strip by strip…like sushi?”

 “Are you stinking what I’m stinking?”

Top characterisation:

“Baggy? Baggy? What did you call me?!” – “I just love Petra’s characterisation of the ultimate (offended) feminist.”

Most zany costume:

“Shere Khan (Max) singing like a Rockstar about RAW MEAT, with a Ziggy Stardust hairstyle and 70’s jumpsuit!”

Outstanding performance:

“Leonardo as Mowgli – a great display of vocal talent and natural sensitivity.”

Favourite song:

“‘Who I am’ … gave me goose bumps the first time I heard him sing.”

Funniest moment:

“Bagheera (Petra) and Baloo’s marriage and parent counselling. These two pseudo parents were even more hilarious when they argued.”

High tension scenes:

“The Hunt scenes – seeing all the wolves, deer, buffalo and elephant create the magical tension of a hunt-tooth and claw.  The wolf pack worked as an absolute team -from the playful cubs, to the cynical grandparent wolves. I especially enjoyed Alfie’s fainting when Akela (Oli) reappeared. We’re sorry, Akela, that you DIDN’T get to die…one day, maybe!”

Best comedy:

“The funky monkeys – what a genuinely funny bunch of dimwits! And some good beatboxing too!”

If you didn’t get a chance to see Friday’s live performance, watch it here on our YouTube Channel.

Costume and Set Design

Thanks to our talented Head of Art, Mrs Sycklemoore, performers wore a variety of animal masks and wire accessories.  Mowgli even had his own custom-made baby marionette.

Mrs Oliver said: “It has been a fantastic experience for the children to perform with masks. What’s more, they made the papier mache versions during the Drama camp. Thank you also to Head of DT Mr Duarte for creating our jungle props.”

The Jungle Book music 

It was always Mrs Oliver’s intention to do justice to the beautiful musical score by British jazz composer, John Stilgoe. She said: “I am grateful to Mary & Iain Westley, Gary Bentley and Sue Whitling for the remarkable way in which they have interpreted the complex music without any available soundtrack. You may not recognise any of the songs, but we hope you will leave the performance singing along to the tunes, just as we have been.”

What did our stellar cast have to say?

“This year’s play, the Jungle Book, has been exciting. We have enjoyed dressing up in wonderfully designed and beautifully made costumes. The stage and props have been made amazingly by Mr Duarte and Mrs Syckelmoore. Thank you so much Mrs Oliver for masterminding this incredible play.” Alex in Year 6

“I have really loved doing the play this year as disaster occurs in the jungle – there is a hungry tiger, a confused bear, and a stealthy panther. We have all learnt something new about animals, and how they move, when it comes to acting.” Petra in Year 6

“This year’s play has been extremely fun. Thank you to the for making the amazing set, and obviously Mrs Oliver who made the play possible. The performance was a blast!” Max in Year 6

“Mowgli loses his mother and the play is a wild adventure through the jungle. He has two jungle guardians, yet most of the other animals help him. Will Shere Khan find him?”  Clara in Year 6