As a 16-year-old girl, Grade 11 Lockerby Composite School student Devyn Bolger said it's a bit of a challenge for her to play a pre-adolescent boy in her school's May 30-31 production of “The Little Prince.”
Women playing the roles of young boys isn't unknown in theatre, though. One of the more well-known examples is in “Peter Pan,” where Peter is traditionally played by a woman.
“Before rehearsals, I drink coffee, so then I'm hyped up enough that I can portray the little kid's kind of attitude,” said Bolger, who cut her hair and is dying it blonde for the play.
She said her best friend, Grade 11 Lockerby student Nathan McColeman, plays the role of The Aviator in the play, and that helps a lot.
“Because Nathan is the person I'm most comfortable with, I'm allowed to act like a child with him,” Bolger said.
The production is based on French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's 1943 novella “The Little Prince,” the most-read and most-translated book in the French language.
It centres around a young prince fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid who meets a pilot stranded in the desert.
Ostensibly meant for children, the story makes many deep and poetic observations about life, said Lockerby drama teacher Ashley Paige Fraser, who's also the play's director.
For example, when the young prince meets a fox during his travels on Earth, one of the lines uttered by the fox is “One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Creativity is another prevalent theme.
The story's narrator explains that as a young boy, he once drew a picture of a boa constrictor with an elephant digesting in its stomach; however, every adult who saw the picture would mistakenly interpret it as a drawing of a hat.
“It's a really beautiful play because it deals with the big questions,” Fraser said, adding that adults and children alike will enjoy the production.
Reflecting the young prince's out-of-the-box thinking, the play's set is equally creative, where umbrellas are used to portray the canopy of a forest, and people wrapped in lights are used to portray stars.
Participating in school plays is great for students, who develop self-confidence in the course of putting on a production, Fraser said.
“They're editing sound cues, painting set pieces and making masks,” she said.
“They can be independent and they really turn into artists. Later on, whether or not they continue in the arts or not, they carry that drive and that ability to problem-solve and that confidence with them.”
The public is invited to take in the play starting at 7:30 p.m. May 30-31 at Lockerby's McKellar Auditorium.
Tickets to the play, which cost $5 each, are available at the door or by phoning the school at 705-522-1750.