The Little Prince: Place for play

Adults are so busy ‘adulting’ in their reasonable, abacus-driven world of doing things of ‘consequence’ that they belittle, dismiss and patronise the childhood world of creative play and artistic endeavor. The parental voice shouts: “Do your homework, Stephen, stop that scribbling!” And for a lonely child, the imagination becomes fertile ground in which to find a wise, foxy friend in a fanciful world of fantasy.

The theatre is also such a space. The stage is lovely, fertile terrain for children’s play too, as this show joyfully expresses.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, written and illustrated by him in 1943, is staged by the Market Theatre Foundation’s new drama company, Kwasha!

The novella is a well-liked, much translated observation on loneliness, friendship, loss and love and the narrative of the show closely adheres to the original story which many audience members will know, but the staged interpretation is charming and delightful. Directed by Mwenya Kabwe and Clara Vaughan, the show rollicks along with animated performances by the young cast. They each play multiple roles, including all taking turns to play the Prince, and work with the theatrical objects and devices. There is a strong physical component in the actors’ performances and the visual elements add an illustrative dimension to the storytelling without them ever feeling forced.

The set is cleverly designed, with a cyclorama of panels of brown paper allowing for swift entrances and exits. Music adds another element, and there are effective moments in which the floor cloth, stage devices and lighting effects are used by the cast to transform context, mood and atmosphere.

The audience thoroughly enjoyed the show, with children laughing and adults understanding the metaphorical and philosophical intentions.

The Little Prince has finished its run at National Arts Festival, but keep an eye out for it in the cities.


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