Some Pig

‘Babe’ teaches tol­er­ance, ac­cep­tance

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FAYETTEVILLE - — LARA HIGHTOWER LHIGHTOWER@NWADG.COM

Kathy Forbes, di­rec­tor of Arts Live Theatre’s up­com­ing pro­duc­tion of “Babe, the Sheep Pig,” says while the play may seem like a quirky com­edy on its face, a deep — and mean­ing­ful — mes­sage shines through.

“There’s a bit of an anti-bul­ly­ing mes­sage in there,” says Forbes of the play, which is an adap­ta­tion of the novel that spawned the pop­u­lar 1995 movie. “It’s the story of this lit­tle pig that’s adopted at the county fair, and taken to a farm, taken away from its mom. It’s alone, and doesn’t know any­one, and is in strange sur­round­ings, but has a re­silient spirit that draws peo­ple in.

“It’s a neat story — if some­one is dif­fer­ent, we may au­to­mat­i­cally as­sume that they’re stupid, or weird, be­cause we don’t un­der­stand them. Es­pe­cially with the­ater stu­dents, they may not feel like they fit in to the scheme of things. The theme of this play is, no mat­ter what other peo­ple think of you, you can over­come that and have a lot of value just for be­ing who you are.”

Most of the cast of 10 will have mul­ti­ple roles in the pro­duc­tion, play­ing the var­i­ous farm an­i­mals in­volved in the plot. Forbes says em­body­ing each dis­tinct an­i­mal is a par­tic­u­lar chal­lenge for the cast.

“As an au­di­ence mem­ber, you kind of have to go with the flow and say, ‘OK, I get it,’” she ex­plains. “There are a lot of quick changes, but it’s very min­i­mal­ist, and more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of each an­i­mal. They don’t have ears and tails, the an­i­mals are more rep­re­sented in how they talk. There are sheep and pup­pies and ducks and a cat and a bully rooster!

“It’s fast-mov­ing and the kids have a lot of quick changes, but we’re work­ing hard to make sure the tran­si­tions move smoothly.”

Forbes is re­ceiv­ing as­sis­tance for the pro­duc­tion from Sam Mur­phy, who is serv­ing as her as­sis­tant di­rec­tor and stage man­ager, as well as her lights and sound de­signer.

“He’s ter­rific,” says Forbes. Forbes says she thinks au­di­ences will find a lot to love in the charm­ing story.

“It’s re­ally more than I ex­pected,” she says of the plot. “I think it car­ries a re­ally neat mes­sage for kids to un­der­stand.”

COUR­TESY PHOTO

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