Who's the big bad wolf afraid of?

The Revolution Orchestra presents the other side of the classic 'Peter and the Wolf' story.

June 4, 2010 23:27
3 minute read.
The 2008 Oscar winning film 'Peter and the Wolf'

Peter and the Wolf 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Things are not as they originally appear in Ephraim Sidon’s version of the classic tale Peter and the Wolf. In fact, they are just the opposite. For most of the last century, audiences have cheered on Peter as he captures the big bad wolf and ships him off to the zoo to sit behind bars.

“It’s true that he ate the duck,” says Sidon, “but a large portion of the audience has also eaten duck at some point. Because of this, they should be shot or put in cages? If every time someone ate a duck we did to them what was done to the wolf, then half the audience would be sitting in jail by now.”

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Absurd but true, Sidon flips the story on its head, telling the tale from the perspective of the wolf and painting him as the protagonist and Peter as the villain. “He is a naive wolf who goes for a stroll in the forest, and he is the good guy in the story. That is to say that after all, it is Peter who runs away from his grandfather and he’s a naughty boy; and the gang of all the animals – the bird and the duck – are a gang that only wants to bring harm to the wolf,” explains Sidon.

Accompanied by an original score written by Rafi Kadishzon and performed by the Revolution Orchestra of Rishon Lezion, the wolf even has several solos where he begins to show, through song, that he isn’t really such a bad guy.

“The wolf is a predator. It’s natural that the wolf will chase after Peter and his friends,” says Sidon. “You can’t turn the wolf into a vegetarian and give him carrots and cabbage to eat – that doesn’t work. That’s how it is in life.”

Conveying a somewhat different message than Israeli children have been exposed to in past encounters with Peter and the Wolf, Sidon says his aim in writing this alternative script was simply to represent the other side of the story, while amusing and entertaining his young viewers. But audience members will be able to decide for themselves which version of the tale most appeals to them when the production comes to life next week at the Jerusalem Theater as part of the Israel Festival’s children’s festival.

The show begins with a more traditional adaptation of the 1930s musical work by Sergei Prokofiev, whereby the Revolution Orchestra plays the original score as an accompaniment to the animated 2008 Oscar-winning film Peter and the Wolf. After this first segment, the narrator, Natan Datner, tells viewers: “Now you will see what really happened” as the performance transitions into Sidon’s satirical tale.

“Usually, when you hear Peter and the Wolf, it is done as a children’s concert – and we wanted to play around with this,” says Roey Openheim, the conductor of the Revolution Orchestra, which was the creative force behind the show.

As an orchestra that composes its own music and primarily writes scores for movies and plays – especially animation – the idea was to take a musical composition that most people were familiar with and to change the way in which it was presented.

“We did this by removing the narrator and using the movie instead,” says Openheim of the show’s first act. After plucking out the narrator, they then decided to use him in a different manner by parachuting him into the second act – a performance that takes the original story, albeit with a twist, and combines it with a completely new musical score, Openheim explains.

Presented through animation, music and theater, this juxtaposition of narratives may leave audiences rooting, for the first time, for the wolf or may simply leave them grinning from ear to ear.

Peter and the Wolf – the True Story will be performed on June 9 at the Jerusalem Theater. For more information: www.israel-festival.org.il

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