Apart from the pack'The Ice Wolf' uses native mythology to explore rejection.
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:41 PM
"The Bainbridge Performing Arts theater class play The Ice Wolf does not shrink from difficult material.Set in an East Hudson Bay eskimo community, the play follows the sad progress of young Anatou, whose blond hair and blue-eyes set her apart from her fellows. I liked this script because it was not candy-coated, says Steven Fogell, Bainbridge Performing Arts' education director and co-director of the production with Joanne Keegan.The high school kids want to take on the challenging material, Fogell says. If they've stuck with theater for seven years, they're passionate about it, and they need to be rewarded.Realism shades into myth as Anatou (played by Jenny Black), ostracized for being different, appeals to the Wood God (played by Anthony Harvey). Her form is altered, her memory erased, in the magical transformation from eskimo to wolf. Results are the same, though, as the pack turns on the wolf unlike other wolves. According to Fogell, the young people don't necessarily want to do musicals, or play children in adult productions.I loved doing this play because I liked the story, says Annika Oechsli, a ninth grader who joined the theater group this year when her family moved from England, and who plays the part of Storyteller.For me, personally, it was a great learning experience, she says. As Storyteller, I got to set the mood for each scene. I'm thinking of signing up again for the summer. The Ice Wolf has been in production eight weeks, like any adult BPA show. Fogell, who usually writes the plays for the BPA class, crafted both sets and costumes.I love the design elements, Fogell says, and bringing all the pieces together.He made sure the costumes support the theme. Identical masks worn by Anatou's eskimo tribe emphasize her own distinctness. And in keeping with the seriousness of the play, he made certain the animal costumes avoided what Fogell calls Disneyesque cuteness. The production features a truly spectacular special effect, however - an 18-foot high white owl, in the style of the Japanese bunraku puppets that are manipulated onstage by actors. It's a convention, Fogell says. In Japan, everyone tacitly agrees not to notice the puppeteers. The puppets and the animated animals should make the play appealing to audiences as young as six.Fogell will take the show on the road in the fall, bringing the transformative power of theater to Bainbridge schools. He believes, as do the adults in the young actors' lives, that theater can effect a transformation as profound as the young eskimo girl's. Parents say that, over time, theater changes their children, he says. They engage these themes that are really about profound moral issues, and it enlarges them as people; it deepens their relationships.* * * * *The BPA Theater School play The Ice Wolf, directed by Joanne Keegan and Steven Fogell, shows at the Playhouse 7:30 p.m. March 23 and 3 p.m. March 24. Tickets are $12/adults and $9/seniors and students. Call 842-8569 for information. "