Call of the Wild – Illustrated Edition opened last week at the Austin Playhouse under the direction of ACC faculty Jason Tremblay. The show runs through this weekend with performances at 2:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. The play is also being presented to local middle and high schools at 10 am through October 7.
The performance is a multi-media presentation that Tremblay specifically created to one day become a touring drama production for young audiences. It’s based on Jack London’s novel Call of the Wild. London’s novel follows the struggles of Buck the dog as he fights for survival during the Gold Rush.
What made you chose “Call of the Wild?”
Tremblay: I read it in seventh grade and loved it. And even with people making plays out of all this classic literature, no one’s made Call of the Wild into a play. I think it’s because the story is about a bunch of dogs and people are like “how do we make that work?”
For me too, the theme of survival really stood out. Being placed in a foreign environment speaks to people on a deep level because we’re all surviving something.
What was the process like to transform the story from a book to the show?
Tremblay: I originally started writing the script by myself. I did twelve drafts before Noel (Noel Gaulin is the only actor in the production) even got involved. And then it was Noel and I for six months with the script – just trying to get it right.
We started throwing around names for techies – top dogs in town and friends we’ve worked with before. When it all came together with Eliot (Eliot Haynes is the sound designer) and Chris (Chris Owens is the media designer), it was a little dream team. I got the best actor and the best designers in town.
How did you incorporate all the images in the performance?
From the very beginning, I had written in beats (in the script) for images. There were just titles like “eye of a dog” or something. But it was a template to start from.
I really wanted original illustrations so we had photographs and images from the original 1903 book. Michael Ray did all the new type of illustrations. It’s a mix of new and old to create this interesting aesthetic.
What do you want the audience to take away from the show?
Tremblay: (talking about youth audiences) Most of these kids have never seen theatre – this will be their first experience of live theatre. I really want to peek their interest in live theatre and what’s going on in their community – all the vibrant art being made. I really want to get kids interested in the arts.
I also want to explore survival . What does it mean? What are survival tactics? What is survival in your life? What are you surviving?
Call of the Wild – Illustrated Edition is free and open to the public. Click here to reserve your free ticket.