Who's the big bad wolf afraid of?

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

Peter and the Wolf 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
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.”
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 performedby the Revolution Orchestra of Rishon Lezion, the wolf even has severalsolos where he begins to show, through song, that he isn’t really sucha bad guy.
“The wolf is a predator. It’s natural that the wolfwill chase after Peter and his friends,” says Sidon. “You can’t turnthe wolf into a vegetarian and give him carrots and cabbage to eat –that doesn’t work. That’s how it is in life.”
Conveying asomewhat different message than Israeli children have been exposed toin past encounters with Peter and the Wolf, Sidonsays his aim in writing this alternative script was simply to representthe other side of the story, while amusing and entertaining his youngviewers. But audience members will be able to decide for themselveswhich version of the tale most appeals to them when the productioncomes to life next week at the Jerusalem Theater as part of the IsraelFestival’s children’s festival.
The show begins with a moretraditional adaptation of the 1930s musical work by Sergei Prokofiev,whereby the Revolution Orchestra plays the original score as anaccompaniment to the animated 2008 Oscar-winning film Peterand the Wolf. After this first segment, the narrator, NatanDatner, tells viewers: “Now you will see what really happened” as theperformance transitions into Sidon’s satirical tale.
“Usually,when you hear Peter and the Wolf, it is done as achildren’s concert – and we wanted to play around with this,” says RoeyOpenheim, the conductor of the Revolution Orchestra, which was thecreative force behind the show.
As an orchestra that composesits own music and primarily writes scores for movies and plays –especially animation – the idea was to take a musical composition thatmost people were familiar with and to change the way in which it waspresented.
“We did this by removing the narrator and using themovie instead,” says Openheim of the show’s first act. After pluckingout the narrator, they then decided to use him in a different manner byparachuting him into the second act – a performance that takes theoriginal story, albeit with a twist, and combines it with a completelynew musical score, Openheim explains.
Presented throughanimation, music and theater, this juxtaposition of narratives mayleave audiences rooting, for the first time, for the wolf or may simplyleave them grinning from ear to ear.
Peter and the Wolf – theTrue Story will be performed on June 9 at the JerusalemTheater. For more information: www.israel-festival.org.il