Set amongst the jungles of Indonesia, and featuring a life-size elephant, tiger and troupe of orangutans, Running Wild relies on an impressive group of puppets. Together with the actors, they tell the story of Lily, swept into the Indonesian rainforest by a tsunami and befriended by the animals.
Those puppets are designed by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié, from London-based puppet firm Gyre and Gimble. The pair previously worked to bring another Michael Morpurgo story to life, as associate puppetry directors on the hit West End show War Horse.
Take a look at the journey those puppets went on, from sketch to stage:
Oona the elephant is controlled by a team of four actor-puppeteers, who convey emotion through the movements of her ears, trunk and tail. She was built initially from cardboard, around a ladder balanced on the actor-puppeteers’ shoulders. This final version is big and sturdy enough for Lilly to ride on during the show.
These orangutans, each played by a different actor-puppeteer, have their own individual personalities, whether that’s boisterous Frank or the more shy and tentative Mani. In the show, they befriend Lilly, playing with her in the treetops.
You might have seen this tiger on The One Show recently, when he menaced Lily and Oona in the plaza outside Broadcasting House. Click here to watch them in action (skip to 23:00).
The puppets can be seen onstage in Running Wild, here from 25-29 April. A modern-day Jungle Book story, it’s suitable for ages 6+ and tickets are available now.