It’s the “witching hour” when a young orphan, Sophie (Annika Cutler) peers out of her bedroom window and sees… the BFG (NWCT resident artist John Ellingson)! Afraid of what humans will do once they realize giants are real, the BFG takes Sophie to his home in the wilds of giant country. Here she is introduced to the BFG’s mixed up and “jumbly” world, including drinks that fizz downwards, jars filled with “good dreams” which he delivers to the children of the world as they sleep, and a host of not-so-nice neighbors all eager to gobble up as many “human beans” as they can. Being a friendly giant (and a vegetarian), the BFG agrees to carry Sophie to Buckingham Palace to ask the Queen of England for help. To convince the skeptical monarch to take action, the BFG will need to create a dream fit for a queen.
The BFG, a children’s literature classic by Roald Dahl, was originally published in 1982, featuring iconic illustrations by Quentin Blake. It was made into an animated film in 1989; a live-action feature film production was announced in September 2011. This recent stage adaptation, by British playwright David Wood, brings the tall tale to life with a skillful balance of spooky charm and light- hearted humor.
Directed by former NWCT student and performer Lucas Welsh, the play combines mask work and physical theater with digital projections to make Dahl’s dream of giants a reality.
Inspired by Blake’s original illustrations, the notso-friendly giants are embodied through oversized mask-heads (designed by Ellingson) while the BFG is tall, skinny, and unmasked, making him gentler and more human. “He’s very childlike,” says Ellingson. “He grew up tall and thin from only eating snozzcumbers. He’s like a big snozzcumber himself.”
Costumes, both large and small, by NWCT resident costume designer Shana Targosz allow a small ensemble of actors (Sam Burns, Elizabeth Gibbs, Madeleine Delaplane, Connor Delaplane, Tyler Jessey, Hanah Baggs and Kallan Dana) to transition seamlessly from the courtly councilors of Buckingham palace, to the rude and rough-hewn denizens of giant country. Set designer kollodi creates a versatile moving set that doubles as a 3D projection screen, allowing animations to interact with performers in real time.
Fanciful light design is by Kristeen Crosser and resident sound designer Rodolfo Ortega provides the booms of giants and the whirrs of Her Majesty’s Royal Airforce. The show features outlandish props, from dream jars to the unpalatable “snozzcumbers,” by Roger Monroe.
As the stilt-legged, big-eared, BFG, Ellingson will be performing a walking tour of Portland in the weeks leading up to the show’s opening on September 29. Those lucky enough to capture him on camera can post the photo on NWCT’s Facebook page for a chance to win tickets, t-shirts, backstage tours and more!.
Roald Dahl’s The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is presented through special arrangement with Samuel French Inc. It is produced in part through the support of presenting sponsor Kafoury & McDougal, the Collins Foundation, Regional Arts and Culture Council and Work for Art, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, and NWCT Donor Circle Members. Over 2,000 school children will visit giant country with the BFG during six student matinee performances.
Posted by Tabitha Rhodes 09/27/12