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Taking place on an arena stage, the cast and crew of The Jungle Book did a remarkable job telling a story of a boy named Mowgli, who struggles with the jungle society he was raised in. The theatrical elements of this play emphasized the theme and allowed the audience to see how the characters were willing to risk everything in order to challenge the structures of society in this play. Throughout the play, the theme was stressed through the lights and sounds.
In particular, the costumes for Mowgli, Sherakhan, and Akela, chosen by designer, Jessica Kreigel, showed this.
Mowgli, played by Michael Creed, wore a very contemporary, modern day costume, which consisted simply of a turtleneck, faded light blue jeans, and matching sneakers. The turtleneck chosen by Kreigel was yellow-orange in color, tight-fitted, and had thin vertical stripes. This style helped to enhance Mowgli’s character and emphasized the theme of the play. In a sense, the vertical lines implied Mowgli’s feeling of being trapped behind the bars of society, which is how he felt throughout the play.
The animal society that he grew up in expected him to behave like them and conform to their rules. Yet, he always felt that he was different from them. In addition, the bright color of Mowgli’s turtleneck allowed the audience to infer that he wanted to break free of these rules, which he ultimately does in the end. The pants worn by Mowgli were different compared to the other characters, who all wore velvet dark pants.
His pants were light-colored blue jeans and were made out of coarser material. This implied how Mowgli would not conform to the structures of society. Mowgli was also the only character who wore bright color sneakers. This further emphasized how he was different from society and how he would challenge their rules.
Kreigel also brought out the theme of the play through Sherakhan’s costume. Sherakhan, played by Zachary McCall, wore a rust colored shirt, black leather pants, and a metal spiked belt, with matching wristbands. Like all the other animals, he wore dark colored pants, which let the audience know that he belonged with them. On the other hand, his shirt was lightly colored. This color contrast chosen by Kreigel enhanced Sherakhan’s character and showed how he was different from the other animals in the jungle. Unlike the other animals, Sherakhan did not believe that Mowgli was apart of the animal society. Sherakhan’s unique costume foreshadowed how he would risk everything to go against the majority and kill Akela. The spikes on his belt and wristbands further emphasized his challenge and threat to the animal society.
Not only did Mowgli and Sherakhan’s costume clearly stressed the theme, but Akela’s costume did this too. Akela, played by Daebreon M. Porter, wore a dark color costume, which consisted of a black vest over a glittery, silver long sleeved shirt, velvet black pants, and black boots. The black color of her outfit showed that she belonged with the other animals, who also wore dark clothing. The black color was contrasted with the glittery silver shirt that she wore under her vest. This in a sense implied that underneath she was different from the animals in the jungle society. The style picked for her top emphasized how she took a risk to allow Mowgli to live with the pack of wolves, even though the rules of jungle would have forbid this. The outfit also foreshadowed how would risk being killed by Sherakhan in order to save Mowgli.
Clearly, Kreigel’s choices of colors, textures, and material for the costumes brought out the theme. They not only allowed the audience to interpret the play better, but they also visually enhanced the production. Because of this, the audience was able to leave the play with a good understanding of it. In the end, these theatrical elements proved to be successful in communicating the play’s message.
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