Children's Theatre Workshop is a class offered in the Department of Communication, Media and Theatre  designed to cover all aspects of production culminating in performances for elementary and  middle school  students.

Fall 2010

THE WOLF AND ITS SHADOWS

by Sandra Fenichel Asher
Directed by Ann Hartdegen

Director’s Note

Framed by the Aesop’s fable “The Dog and the Wolf”, THE WOLF AND ITS SHADOWS weaves together stories about wolves, dogs and humans.  The play includes tales from Russian, Tlingit, English, Inuit and German folklore.  Working on the play we read many stories about wolves, and we were struck by the stark contrast between the First Nations (Tlingit/Inuit) and the European (Russian/English/German) view of wolves.

The First Nations tales reveal a Wolf that is clever, but in an admirable way: resourceful, brave, a careful hunter, faithful to his mate, protective of his family, loyal to and cooperative with his pack, an ancestor to and helpful to humans.  The European tales usually also portray Wolf as clever, but in a negative way: cunning, greedy, a vicious and indiscriminate killer, a loner only interested in himself, a constant thief of livestock, an unpredictable attacker of humans, the physicalization of evil.

The modern scientific “truth” is much closer to the First Nations attitude than the European view.  And we wonder: who are the tales really about?  Who do wolves represent in these stories?

    Mock me in your stories,
    but the face behind the mask is your own.

Working on this play has also made us think about the real problems faced by States with wolf populations being pushed out by human development and resented or feared by hunters and farmers.  How do we safely maintain a stable and healthy population of wild animals, including wolves, without resorting to brutal and inhumane tactics like aerial hunting and bounties, which are ultimately destructive to the entire ecosystem?

    Destroy me, and your world grows smaller.
    Tame me, and I am no longer wolf.
    I am wonder. I am wilderness. I am wolf.

THE WOLF AND ITS SHADOWS was seen by about 1000 local children in grades 4-8.

A Wolf (David Mitchell, mask by Katherine Murphy)

and a Dog (Patryk Szwankowski, mask by Katherine Murphy)


chance to meet by night in the forest.
(L to R: Patryk Szwankowski, David Mitchell, Jenna Brzozowski)


Wolf is hungry because there is little of his natural prey remaining to hunt, and so Dog, although himself restless in captivity, offers Wolf work and food at the home of Dog’s master.  As they travel Wolf smells a human and hides.
(L to R: David Mitchell, Patryk Szwankowski)


A Hunter is friendly to Dog, but scolds him for keeping company with Wolf,
(L to R: David Mitchell, Patryk Szwankowski, Matthew Calabrese)

and enacts a Russian story in which wolves are foolish, greedy and ultimately killed.
(L to R: Patryk Szwankowski, Matthew Calabrese)


Admonishing Dog, the Hunter goes his way, and Wolf reappears to tell his own story,
(L to R: David Mitchell, Patryk Szwankowski)

a Tlingit First Nations tale, in which wolves are brave, resourceful and loyal – 
(David Mitchell)

“Oh Great Spirit, teach me to be like the Wolf”
(David Mitchell, Patryk Szwankowski)

A nun appears and Wolf hides again.  The nun tells Dog an English medieval story of a handsome but haunted young man
 (L to R: David Mitchell, Matthew Calabrese)

who loved a beautiful maiden.
(L to R: Matthew Calabrese, Jenna Brzozowski)

Challenged by a Rival (played by the nun),
(L to R: David Mitchell, Matthew Calabrese, Erica Subkowski, Anne Uselton)

the young man turns into a ravenous Werewolf
(Matthew Calabrese)

and is killed by the maiden
(L to R: Matthew Calabrese, Jenna Brzozowski)

who is distraught when she realizes she has killed her beloved.
 (L to R: Matthew Calabrese, Anne Uselton)

The nun goes her way with a warning, and Wolf reappears to tell an Inuit legend
(David Mitchell)

in which the first woman
(Erica Subkowski)

prays to the Spirit in the Sky, who sends Wolf to be a helper to humankind.
(Monica Clark)

Wolf and Dog start on their way again, but are soon interrupted by an old Shepherd
(L to R: David Mitchell, Patryk Szwankowski, Matthew Calabrese)

who tells a German tale of a sly Old Wolf who tries to negotiate a truce with the Shepherd. (L to R: Erica Subkowski, Matthew Calabrese, Patryk Szwankowski)

Refused three times, the Old Wolf attacks the Shepherd and is killed.
(L to R: Erica Subkowski, David Mitchell, Matthew Calabrese)

Wolf realizes that he can never live with people, or bear to be chained up as Dog is.  Dog reminds him, “What my master cannot own … he fears, he mocks, he destroys.”
(L to R: David Mitchell, Patryk Szwankowski, Anne Uselton)

Wolf invites Dog to join him in the freedom of the forest, but Dog realizes he would be lonely without his master, so Wolf and Dog say farewell.
(L to R: David Mitchell, Patryk Szwankowski)

“The Wolf travels easily between the spirit world and our own.”
(L to R: Patryk Szwankowski, David Mitchell, Anne Uselton)

“Mock me in your stories,
(L to R: David Mitchell, Patryk Szwankowski, Matthew Calabrese)

but the face behind the mask
(Clockwise: David Mitchell, Matthew Calabrese, Patryk Szwankowski, Erica Subkowski)

is your own.”
(Clockwise: David Mitchell, Matthew Calabrese, Patryk Szwankowski, Erica Subkowski)

Full Company
(Front row: Greg Goff, Anne Uselton, Jenna Brzozowski, Monica Clark, Alex LoBianco, Hanson Le. 
Back row: Anna Sienko, Patryk Szwankowski, David Mitchell, Matthew Calabrese, Erica Subkowski)

Tech Crew
(Front row: Greg Goff, Alex LoBianco, Anne Uselton.  Back row: Monica Clark, Hanson Le, Anna Sienko.)
Photographs by Ann Hartdegen

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