It was a very rare occasion to see a Japanese anime adapted to the stage, and a Studio Ghibli animation at that. Upon entering the auditorium you felt like you were in the great forest, welcomed by two Kodama (spirit) puppets moving from the stage to walls – who even interacting with the audience.
The great aspect of Whole Hog’s scenery and props was that they were all made from inventive household items using VHS tape as spurting blood for the demon Gods.
It was amazing how the actors moved on stage transitioning scenes with forms of dance, and even when Prince Ashitaka would ride his faithful red elk Yakul he would literally jump on the actor. The actors showed great demonstration of strength and creativity in their performance. Some cast members even played the original soundtrack live in the background with vocals singing the themes. This adaptation was enjoyed by a range of ages in the audience. Some reporters from Japan were present to report on the performance too as well as get reactions from the audience.
Whole Hog Theatre is a young theatre company based in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire who specialise in adaptation. Frustrated by the proliferation of ‘safe’ theatre and the lack of opportunity for young artists to gain the professional experience in theatre necessary to enter the industry, they decided to make their own theatre company instead.
Whole Hog Theatre began several months after founding members graduated from Warwick University in 2011. Despite a wealth of student experience in directing, designing and performing, none had had any luck in breaking into the professional theatrical world in their preferred fields. So the decision was made – if you can’t beat them, join them.
Tickets for the first run of Whole Hog Theatre’s stage adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki’s epic ecological fable sold out within 72 hours of going on sale. The company advises all those who want to catch the show to book early to avoid disappointment.