Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate, Young Adult
Anthology: Theatre for Children
Author: Henry Beissel
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Estimated Runtime: 75 minutes
Number of Characters: 21+
Cast Requirements: 5 + (2 women, 3 men)
Time Period: Any
Production Requirements: Fantastical puppets or marionettes, masked actors, specialty sound and light requirements, several scene changes.
Based on characters from Inuit mythology, this original story follows a young boy named Inuk as he journeys to save his people and become a man. Inuk is the Inuit word for “human being” and the plot echoes the universal experience of growing up and coming to terms with life and death. Inuk and his father set off to hunt during the cold winter season. The family and tribe are starving and Inuk is convinced that he must capture the sun and bring it back in order for all to survive. In pursuit of food and the sun, Inuk’s father is killed by a polar bear which is then killed by Inuk. Inuk grows more desperate to find the sun and is convinced that this will bring back his father as well. He is helped on his quest by several spirits including the wind, moon, and sea. When he at last finds the spirit of the sun he has truly achieved manhood and is able to accept his father’s death.
The play was originally devised with actors in masks to portray the spirits with marionettes used to play all the other characters. The use of marionettes allows for the creation of fantastical characters and places difficult to create otherwise. The poetic dialogue enhances the mystical characters in the play and the imagery throughout the dialogue paints a beautiful picture. The serious subject matter calls for a somewhat mature audience but the strong coming of age theme and triumph of man over harsh conditions will please many. These themes provide numerous discussion topics for before and after the play. Experienced actors with puppetry and storytelling skills will be needed to portray the many characters and make the intricate plot understood.