Theatrefolk Featured Play – The Wind in the Willows adapted by Todd Espeland

Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight.  The Wind in the Willows adapted by Todd Espeland is a lively and theatrical adaptation of a wonderful classic from Kenneth Grahame.

Mole just wants to make friends, Rat just wants to hang by the river, and Toad just wants everything to go zooooooooom. None of that prepares our friends for the fight to save Toad Hall from Fox and his wicked weasels.

Join them in this in this character-driven thrilling adventure through the Wild Wood and out into the Wide World!

Gender flexible. Easy to stage. Excellent ensemble and tech student opportunities.

Why did we publish this play?
I love an adaptation that takes a world created in one form and brings it to life on the stage. Todd has done just that with this play. It’s easy to stage, the characters are vividly drawn and the text is full of theatricality and humour. So much fun!

Let’s hear from the author!

1. Why did you write this play?
I have always liked the story of The Wind in the Willows. It is filled with great characters. My background is in mask and Commedia and the story always felt to me like it had Commedia types in its characters. So I wrote it with that idea in mind.

2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
It is about the strength of friendships and believing in someone and helping them become the best person they can be.

3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
The moment at the end of the play with all of Toad’s friends on one side of the stage, defending him, and the Fox and Weasels on the other side of the stage backing down from them.

4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
Trust the absurd, over the top Commedia like comedy of the play. Trust the archetypes in the characters and play them like they were Commedia characters. They may not correspond to classic Commedia characters, but they are all “types”. Trust their character drives and how the comedy comes out of their drives/needs.

5. Why is this play great for student performers?
 It gives them a chance to play characters with big needs and characters who play a lot of tactics to get those needs. It teaches them to play “Truth in Size”. If you indicate or play generically BIG, the comedy doesn’t work. Just like in the Simpsons these characters have big needs but those needs are very real for them in the theatrical world of the play. There needs to be an honesty to their large characterizations. That’s why Commedia, when it works, is so much fun. The audience gets sucked into this large theatrical world that is very real of the characters in it.

6. Do you have any tips for those who are performing this play online?
This is a great play for online because it is character driven. Characters using tactics to get their needs from other characters. Any physical business comes out of playing a tactic. Sometimes it is easy to just play the physical business and not play the tactics through your voice and body. Online you have to really be precise about playing your tactics.

If you are planning on doing this show socially distant than I suggest doing a lot of physical characterization work. You will have to use more stage than normal and having specific physical characters will not only help the actors to play off each other but it will fill the stage with these unique physical characters to watch.

Get your copy of The Wind in the Willows right here, right now!

Not right for your group right now? Search our play catalogue to find one that your performers will love!

Products referenced in this post: The Wind in the Willows
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