‘Babe’ teaches tolerance, acceptance
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.”