St. Louis children’s theater company, Metro Theater, is bringing “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” to life on the stage this month at the Missouri History Museum. The play follows the journey of a toy lost from its owner and is based on the book written by Kate Di Camillo, Newberry Award-winning author of “Because of Winn Dixie” and “The Tale of Despereaux.”
St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh was joined in studio Friday by Julia Flood, artistic director of Metro Theater Company, and Dwayne Hartford, the playwright who adapted “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.”
Edward Tulane is a rabbit (think china doll) who is separated from his owner, a little girl who adores him. His journey home takes many twists and turns, and he finds himself constantly faced with new challenges – from the bottom of the ocean to the top of a trash pile.
The cast is composed of four main characters – The Musician, The Traveler, The Man and The Woman—whose specific roles shift throughout the performance. The play’s soundtrack, which was composed by Flood’s brother, underpins pivotal moments during Edward’s journey.
“It’s a beautiful journey,” said Hartford. “It’s sad at times, and it’s joyous at times. It’s just a lovely story.”
Hartford and Flood explained that Edward’s physical journey accompanies his own personal journey to understand the meaning of love and loss.
Because the story originated from a book, it presented some challenges for the playwright and artistic director in adapting it into a play.
“Here is a story where the main character doesn’t talk, doesn’t move,” said Hartford. “In fact it’s very important that the protagonist of this story cannot move at all on his own – he’s a china doll.”
Because the book relies completely on Edward’s thoughts, translating introspective growth into performance required creative solutions from Hartford and Flood.
Despite this difficulty, Hartford said that immediately after reading the last line of the book, he knew that he wanted to turn it into a play.
“It’s the story of the book, but it’s also the story of how we tell each other stories,” Flood said. “So it has this wonderful circular effect of being, of the nature of storytelling.”
Storytelling, Flood explained, connects us to our past, our families, our homes and our communities. Because of this overarching theme, the performance appeals to viewers of all ages, Hartford said.
“I find that if you approach the material from a very sincere place and try to really uncover the truth of it, adults and young people will respond to it,” Flood said.
They acknowledged that differences in life experience may cause adults to interpret some scenes or lines differently than their children do. For this reason, at certain moments throughout the play, the children may be laughing while the adults tear up.
“I think the wonderful job of theater, and it has been for 3,000 years, is to tell stories and to share empathy,” said Hartford.
In “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” Hartford and Flood said they hope to have accomplished both of these goals.
What: Metro Theater Company Presents “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane" by Dwayne Hartford
When: December 9 -30, 2016
Where: Missouri History Museum (Lee Auditorium), 5700 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63112
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.