By John Owoo
(In Tunis – Tunisia)
Théâtre de l’Opéra – which is located in the elegant Cité de la Culture – was literarily set ablaze with a performance of “Jungle Book”, a piece by the American visual director Robert Wilson.
Performing as part of the 2023 edition of Journées Théâtrales de Carthage Festival in the Tunisian capital Tunis, this musical theatre / opera managed to keep the audience at the edge of seats with constant movement and action on stage.
Comprising diverse elements of the arts – architecture, music, dance, poetry alongside an amazing use of light that often turned the bodies of the artists into silhouettes – the artists presented a charming natural retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s book – “The Jungle”.
“Undeniably, the scenography, acting, singing, rhythms and dancing appear separate and together at the same time. The artists moved severally and jointly thereby arousing the curiosity of members of the audience”, said Pierre Martin, a teacher in France.
Obviously featuring dozens of light cues, it’s amazing how the technicians managed it, as “human / animal” bodies, shadows and diverse items flowed freely on stage and a giant screen.
With voices of singers soaring through the air like birds in flight – virtuosity and evil, aggressiveness and hilarity reigned on stage – as formidable poetry engaged the audience in deep thoughts while collective struggles unite some animals in the jungle.
Wilson, who turned 80 last October, focuses on the dangers that threaten nature. “Jungle Book” abounds with songs and stories that intertwine with the performance of the actors, dancers and singers.
Indeed, his set design reaches a crescendo where texts fade into the background in the face of the power of images, colors and geometries in space while his bodies dance as if in weightlessness alongside a choreography that is both rhythmic and frenzied.
Pix – Courtesy of Journées Théâtrales de Carthage