'The Little Prince' given an African make over
One of the world’s most beloved children’s books for adults, The Little Prince, is being staged at the Market Theatre following a successful nationwide tour.
The production, which is an African adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic fable also by the same title, which he wrote in 1943 – 75 years ago.
Currently, the book is one of the most translated books in the world with it existing in 300 languages.
Chatting to the Kwasha! Theatre Company’s Clara Vaughan, who is the production’s co-director, said the process of adapting the story was fascinating.
“It was an exciting creative process because we had to start by finding out what the book means to the people who are making it, that’s the directors,
the cast everyone involved to find out how they relate to the book.
“To also sort through what meaning resonates in an African context, what African symbols can be found within the book, so we really started by trying to find a very personal sense of meaning, but it was also very collaborative,” she said.
Vaughan said the production was taken on a nationwide tour by Kwasha!, which positions itself as a space for young theatre-makers to bridge the gap between being a student and a professional.
It allows young and upcoming theatre practitioners to be part of a company where they will be supported in their path to finding their feet in the industry by being part of the company for a year, with a stable salary.
The Little Prince is one of the first substantial projects of the Market Theatre Foundation’s Kwasha! It is a continuation of the partnership which was consolidated in a memorandum of understanding in 2016 between the Market Theatre Foundation and the French Institute of South Africa (Ifas).
She added that the adaptation was also slightly challenging because it's a fantastical book.
“It’s about an aviator who crashes his plane in the desert, and a little prince who travels from planet to planet.
“With all of these things, we have to be creative to be able to portray them on stage in a way that captures the audience’s imagination in a way that will make them believe that they are travelling in space, or that a plane is crashing, all things that you cannot do realistically. So we must find ways to portray them symbolically.”
“Our cast went through some circus training before we began with the process because we had the idea that the language of the play and how to tell the story was going to be quite physical and going to require magic making using the actors’ bodies.
“A lot of the choices that we made were about that, about how we use the actor’s bodies, it worked together to make images and moments of flight and travel.”
The play seems at first glance geared toward a younger audience, but the themes it explores about humanity, make it very fitting for an audience of any age.
“People should come and see it because they are going to experience magic . For adults, it will give them a chance to remember and celebrate their inner child. In so many ways, its a celebration of the imagination,” Vaughan said.
* The Little Prince runs until November 25 at the Market Theatre.