Written & Directed by Craig Francis & Rick Miller
Adapted from the works of Rudyard Kipling
Produced by Kidoons and WYRD Productions in association with The 20K Collective
This guide was written by Tanisha Taitt, a YPT Resident Artist Educator, in collaboration with Jungle Book co-creators Craig Francis and Rick Miller.
Hello educators! We hope that you will find this study guide to be a useful resource — both as you prepare for your visit to our theatre to see Jungle Book, and after your class has experienced the production. In this guide you will find themes, curriculum connections and expectations, a glossary, character descriptions, a synopsis, an interview with the co-creators, along with units of study including pre/post-show discussion questions and theme-based activities. If you wish to create your own lesson plan from the study guide copy, we have created a lesson plan template for your use. Should you have any questions or feedback, or have inquiries about the use of this guide (which is copyright protected), please feel free to contact Karen Gilodo, Associate Artistic Director, Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2019, the original The Jungle Book turned 125 years old. More than a century after it was first published in 1894, Rudyard Kipling’s timeless and allegorical classic is still dearly beloved and has been retold multiple times through various media. Adaptations of The Jungle Book have included a science-fiction novel, a song cycle, comic books and films. With each interpretation, its audience grows and new waves of young people are drawn into the world of Mowgli and his colourful cohabitant creatures. The personification of the jungle animals of India is vivid and emblematic as an examination of the tribal nature of human behaviour, but the story also serves as a powerful metaphor for the complex relationship between human and animal life.
While the story explores a number of themes, Jungle Book is, essentially, a coming-of-age story about a young boy’s early steps towards adulthood. A simple birthday text message causes our protagonist to reflect upon his unique life. We witness Mowgli grow up and search for a stronger sense of self as he struggles to find courage and belonging amongst his surroundings. Jungle Book takes us on the adventure of a human being struggling to understand his place in the world, and questioning whether he has chosen to live an authentic existence.
- Full-Day Kindergarten
- The Arts – Drama and Music
- Science and Technology – environmental education and life systems
- Language Arts
- Health and Physical Education –healthy living
- Social Studies – heritage and identity, people and environments
Seven Ancestral Teachings
- Humanity’s place in the natural world
- Finding one’s community
- Navigating power and hierarchy
By participating in these suggested activities, students will:
- demonstrate an understanding of the diversity among individuals and families, and within schools and the wider community;
- demonstrate an understanding of the natural world, and the need to care for and respect the environment.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
- describe how showing care and respect for all living things helps to maintain a healthy environment;
- analyse the positive and negative impacts of human interactions with natural habitats and communities;
- identify reasons for the depletion or extinction of a plant or animal species.
- describe some of the ways in which people’s roles, relationships, and responsibilities relate to who they are and what their situation is, and how and why changes in circumstances might affect people’s roles, relationships and responsibilities as well as their sense of self.
- identify the point of view presented in oral texts, determine whether they agree with the point of view, and suggest other possible perspectives.
- apply the creative process to dramatic play and process drama, using the elements and conventions of drama to communicate feelings, ideas, and stories;
- engage actively in drama exploration and role play, with a focus on identifying and examining a range of issues, themes, and ideas from a variety of fiction and non-fiction sources and diverse communities, times, and places.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND HEALTHY LIVING
- demonstrate the ability to make connections that relate to health and well-being – how their choices and behaviours affect both themselves and others, and how factors in the world around them affect their own and others’ health and well-being.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Craig Francis and Rick Miller
Craig Francis and Rick Miller are called “co-creators” because they wrote the script, directed the actors, and created the look of the show, together. Rick is a theatre creator and actor, with a specialty in multimedia and solo productions. Craig is a writer, performer, illustrator and designer. Rick and Craig formed “The 20K Collective” to develop new works with different groups of collaborators. They believe in using all the tools of storytelling as creatively as possible to bring all ages together at the theatre and to bring art and science together to help us make the world a better place. To see some videos about water and species conservation, created in partnership with Ontario organizations (Lake Ontario Waterkeepers, City of Toronto Live Green, Township of Innisfil, Ryerson U, Toronto Zoo, and others), visit GrandFatherFrog.com
Craig Francis and Rick Miller
Kidoons was formed to entertain, educate, enlighten and empower young people. Kidoons tells new and classic stories using multimedia and different technologies. Kidoons partners with WYRD Productions to create touring theatre productions. It also partners with educational and not-for-profit organizations and museums to help tell stories of real people and places. Mowgli was the face of Earth Day Canada in 2018 to promote playing outdoors! Visit junglebook.ca/series to watch!
Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, India in 1865. His parents were white British citizens. His father, John Lockwood Kipling, received a job in India as professor of architectural sculpture in the Jeejeebhoy School of Art in Bombay. As was the custom at the time, when Kipling was five years old he was sent to school in England. There he lived with Mrs. Holloway, a cruel and neglectful person. This may be why The Jungle Book has so many themes about a child being separated from their family. When he graduated high school at age 16, he moved back to India to work in Lahore (which is now part of Pakistan). He wrote articles for newspapers and also began writing stories for them too. In 1888, at age 22, he published his first book, Plain Tales from the Hills, which was a collection of stories. He wrote many more books and traveled to London and the United States, where he began work on the stories that would become The Jungle Book. It was published in 1894. A very famous poet and writer in his own lifetime, Kipling lived through World War I, and died in 1936 in London.
The British in India: Rudyard Kipling and Colonialism
Rudyard Kipling loved India and felt a part of it. But culturally, he was a British citizen and had a colonial attitude: India was a colony of Britain, and Kipling believed that British ways were superior to Indian ways. This makes his reputation problematic today… can we enjoy his skill as a writer and inventor of stories, while not accepting his support for colonialism? We can somewhat see this attitude in The Jungle Book in how some animals are “better” than others and should “master” them, and how he considers it natural that Mowgli should dominate them. The playwrights have challenged this idea throughout the script of this Jungle Book, making it clear that we need to learn to live together, not to control others. As the wise elephant Hathi says, “the jungle has no master”.
The British colonized many countries: the United States, Canada and India have all been colonies of Britain. At its height the British Empire was the largest in history, with its king or queen controlling almost one fourth of all land on Earth. Between 1750 and 1850 Britain colonized India, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Rhodesia, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, islands in the West Indies and colonies on the African coast.
We discuss colonialism now to try to understand how colonies affected the people who were already there. In Canada and the United States, Indigenous people had lived here for more than 15,000 years before the British and French colonists arrived. They were removed from the land in order to make way for the colonies, often by deadly force. They also died from foreign germs from Europe: in parts of North and South America, nine out of ten Indigenous people died from disease brought by colonists.
In the case of India, there were already 40 million people living there before the British arrived. The East India Company took over several huge areas as trading posts with England, and treated the Indian people much worse than the British colonists. After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the company turned over rule to the crown, and India became part of the British Empire. Rebellion continued, and only after Mahatma Gandhi’s campaign of non-violent resistance, did India successfully revolt from Britain. India became an independent country in 1947.
INTERVIEW WITH CO-CREATORS, CRAIG FRANCIS AND RICK MILLER
After taking on Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, what prompted you to turn to another classic novel: Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book?
RM: In my childhood home in Montreal, my mother hung Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “If” on our bathroom wall – probably because it is a busy place in a house with four kids! She would quote it often, and my brothers and I knew it by heart. “If you can keep your head, when all about you are losing theirs, and blaming it on you…” Only later did I read Kipling’s short stories, including The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book. In them I found very clear echoes of my beloved “If”, as when Baloo teaches Mowgli the “Law of The Jungle”.
CF: Our company Kidoons specializes in telling classic stories that resonate with modern issues, and Kipling’s stories are no exception. They’re a wonderful collection of adventures, and though they’re set in India in the 19th Century, they can still speak to all of us today. Our goal is to immerse the audience in a purely theatrical interpretation of “nature”, while questioning the theme of dominance from Kipling’s books. We’ve collaborated with a diverse and really accomplished creative team of artists, and are excited to share their artistry with audiences of all ages as we tour across North America.
What characters in the stories were you drawn to, and why?
RM: Most adaptations of The Jungle Book only focus on the Mowgli stories from his time in the jungle. We’re taking a different approach by mirroring Mowgli’s banishment from the jungle as a child with his banishment from the town as a teenager. Through this, we can see how he feels disconnected from both worlds – too human for the animals, too animal-like for the humans. That’s why we’ve expanded beyond the beloved jungle animal characters to include humans like Messua (Mowgli’s mother) and Buldeo (the town bully). We’ve even created a character called Maya, Mowgli’s sister, who’s already become an audience favourite.
CF: As far as Kipling’s animal characters go, I’m really drawn to the pair of Bagheera and Baloo. They’re not just a classic comedy duo – they also teach Mowgli how to survive in the jungle and how to be ethical. They are part of a larger parental group to Mowgli, alongside his adoptive parents, the wolves Raksha and Akela, and Messua, his human mother. I was also happy to include the characters “Toomai of the Elephants”. Our Jungle Book will feel familiar to those who love the story, but it will also feel like a completely unique theatrical version
With Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Jungle Book, you’re exploring, among other things, the theme of connection. Is this a driving force behind your work?
CF: In Jungle Book, we shift our storytelling from water to land, and continue to explore the idea of connection, and what it means today. Like Captain Nemo, Mowgli has become disconnected from humanity. He is striving to find the balance between nature and human civilization. Nemo builds his own world inside a submarine in order to escape, but Mowgli wants to connect. In his search for a family, he finds himself torn between his human and animal ones.
RM: Jungle Book is the second part of what we’re calling our “connection triptych”, which started with Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and is followed by Frankenstein (co-created with Paul Van Dyck). These three classic stories feature lonely anti-hero characters, all of whom reflect a very modern sense of isolation, and the growing anxiety of young people to feel accepted in a world of instant judgment through technology, and hateful ideologies that build walls amongst us.
How does Mowgli’s disconnection relate to us today, living in cities?
CF: In our Jungle Book, Mowgli has become a disillusioned architect living in the city. He sees how most cities – and the people who build them, and live in them – completely ignore the natural world around, under and over them.
RM: Mowgli realizes he has forgotten everything he learnt from “The Law of The Jungle”, which is mostly about living in balance in a chaotic world. By taking us back through his own story, he reconnects with this sense of balance and integration, and comes out with renewed hope and a vital call to action for everyone in the room to look at their world differently.
Kidoons is known for weaving together simple theatrical methods and cutting-edge technology. How are you bringing “the jungle” to life onstage?
RM: One of the greatest compliments we hear with our shows is that “I’ve never seen anything like it!” With Jungle Book, you’ll see our playful blend of low-tech and high-tech, but this time, the cast will take on multiple characters as well, both animal and human. Besides telling stories as the central characters, they’ll also manipulate lights, shadows, and puppets to create different natural, unnatural and theatrical environments.
CF: Audiences told us how real they found the water in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, but there was not a drop onstage – just lights, projections, acting and their imaginations! This time we invite you to imagine the jungle, and this show’s immersive video and sound design will connect our onstage and online worlds. Modern technologies allow us to understand nature as never before, but also remove us from it. But through storytelling we find we can make an emotional connection – that’s its magic.
When 25 year-old architect Mowgli gets a text on his phone at his home in New York City, it unlocks the story of his past and takes him on a quest for identity. The text from his sister Maya reads “Happy Birthday Wolf Boy!” – a light-hearted wish that brings back memories of her brother’s early years being raised by wolves in the Indian jungle.
Mowgli, who has been pondering the meaning of his work as an architect and its impact on the environment, is moved to find an old journal that he refers to as his Jungle Book, containing drawings and writings about his childhood. It begins with his separation from his family at the hands of a Bengal tiger named Shere Khan and his rescue by Raksha and Akela, two wolves who save Mowgli’s life and – fond of the young boy – choose to raise him as one of their own in the wolf pack.
Living in the wild, Mowgli is taught the law of the jungle from his animal friends. Bagheera and Baloo impart this wisdom on Mowgli to teach him the realities of the hierarchy of the jungle. They also teach him about his role as a human boy within it, despite having been raised as a wolf boy.
As Mowgli grows, he remains the target of Shere Khan. The tiger brags about attacking humans and still wants to kill Mowgli, viewing him as the ultimate prey. When the wild cat manages to alienate Mowgli from his wolf pack, they throw him out of the jungle where he has spent much of his life. Back in the city he is reunited with his biological mother Messua and his sister Maya, his human family whom he hasn’t seen in a very long time. As he tries to reconnect to his family and rebuild a life with them, they are threatened by a local hunter, Buldeo. Mowgli finds himself in the position of having someone who wants to hurt him in the town as well as in his former home. Mowgli crafts a plan to eliminate his lifelong enemy Shere Khan with the help of his jungle family. Mowgli realizes that there is an innate bond and interdependence between humans and animals; he wonders if in his heart he is boy, or wolf – or both.
Mowgli: A human boy. Lost in the jungle as a toddler, he was adopted by Akela and Raksha.
Raksha: An Indian wolf; adoptive mother of Mowgli. Indian wolves are a subspecies of the grey wolf, native to North America, Europe and Asia.
Akela: Leader of the wolf pack. Also an Indian wolf, partner to Akela and adoptive parent of Mowgli.
Shere Khan: A Bengal tiger. He hates human beings and is on a mission to kill Mowgli. Tigers are the largest species of wild cat and are endangered because humans have interfered with their natural habitats.
Baloo: A sloth bear. He is a mentor to the wolf cubs and, as a result, is seen as an honorary member of the pack. Sloth bears are found in India. They have shaggy fur and long curved claws, similar to a sloth.
Bagheera: A black panther who is the “ears of the jungle”. A black panther is actually a leopard with black fur.
Hathi: An Indian elephant. Considered the Lord of the Jungle, it is Hathi who declares the water truce. Elephants are the largest living land mammals. Each herd of elephants is led by the oldest female, called the matriarch.
Kaa: A rock python. He is feared by all of the other creatures because of his ability to swallow some animals whole, and to kill others by constriction.
The Bandar-Log: A group of rogue monkeys who do not follow the jungle’s law.
Rann: A black kite. A kite is a bird of prey, like a hawk. The black kite has dark plumage and a black bill. Its keen eyesight and shrill call are what allow Rann to see and pass on all the gossip of the jungle.
Sooar: An Indian wild boar, unique from other wild boars because of its mane that runs down its head, neck and back.
Prickly: A porcupine.
Messua: A human woman and Mowgli’s biological mother.
Maya: A human girl and Mowgli’s biological sister. It is a message from her at the beginning of the play that triggers Mowgli’s journey back into his life adventures.
Buldeo: A human man, a herder of water buffalos and hunter.
Chamcha: A human man, friend of Buldeo.
Madhya Pradesh, India
Madhya Pradesh is a state in India. It is in the heart of central India, with no coasts but lots of jungles and mountains. The Bainganga River flows through the region. There are still many of the wild animals mentioned in Jungle Book in this area, although many are now endangered. Today, the Pench Tiger Preserve is a nature preserve where endangered Bengal tigers are protected – tourists can visit to see them hunting prey along the river. The capital of Madhya Pradesh is Bhopal.
Seoni is a city in central India in the province of Madhya Pradesh. Seoni has a population of over 100,000 people. The playwrights chose to set the play in Seoni both because it is referred to in Rudyard Kipling’s original stories (Mowgli’s wolf pack is called the “Seeonee pack”) and also because it is possible that humans and the wild animals in the stories could still interact here.
New York City is in New York State in the United States of America. It has a population of over 8 million people. The playwrights chose to frame the play in New York as it is the prime example of a modern city – a destination known around the world. Mowgli is an immigrant to the United States and he has become an architect. His journey begins by being raised by animals in the jungle near Seoni, to finding his human family in India, to designing buildings in New York.
Biodiversity: The variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat.
Carnivore: An animal or person that eats other animals; a meat-eater.
Constriction: The action of making something narrower by pressure; tightening.
Extinct: Having no living members in existence (as in a species).
Habitat: The natural home or environment of an animal, plant or other organism.
Herbivore: An animal or person that feeds on plants.
Omnivore: An animal or person that eats a variety of food including plants and animals.
Originate: To have a specified beginning.
Plumage: A bird’s feathers.
Truce: An agreement between enemies or opponents to stop fighting or arguing.
Pre-Show Discussion Questions
- Do you feel a connection to nature? If you do, what does connecting to the natural environment mean to you?
- Why do we feel drawn toward some animals and think they are cute, yet others make us scared?
- If you could be any jungle animal for a day, which would you choose to be and why?
- Moving to a new home and/or school can feel stressful, scary, exciting or a combination of feelings. Why?
- Why have humans created rules and laws? If you could change one rule of law, what would it be?
- What do you think that human beings can learn from animals?
- What are some of the ways climate change is having an impact on animal life? What can humans do now to have a positive impact on the future?
Pre-Show Activity: Mini-Debate
Students will consider different perspectives related to humans taking animals out of their natural habitats.
Board or chart paper to write on and a writing utensil.
- As a class, ask students to describe zoos or aquariums and what they think their purpose is.
- Introduce the motion (write it down for students): Is it acceptable to remove animals from their natural habitats in order to educate people about wildlife and bring humans and animals together?
- Divide the class in half to create two teams. Have one team debate “for” and the other team “against” the motion.
- Give students two minutes to discuss their standpoint with the person/s beside them.
- When ready, have students raise their hands to offer an argument for their team.
- What did you learn from this debate?
- Was your personal opinion changed at all by any of the arguments you heard? Why or why not?
- Repeat the debate and have students argue the opposite point of view.
More resources for leading student debates in your classroom: edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/cur/socstud/frame_found_sr2/tns/tn-13.pdf
Pre-Show Activity: Animals Everywhere
Students will research an animal and consider the human impact or relationship that humans have with this animal.
Computers or laptops; resources for research.
- Introduce an idea from the play: in Jungle Book, Baloo teaches Mowgli that “We need to learn to live with humans, and they need to learn to live with us!”
- Ask students: which animals live in your own city or area?
- Divide the class into small groups, such that each group has access to a computer or reference resources to do research.
- Each student in the group chooses an animal local to either Canada or their country of origin.
- Prepare a handout, or write the following information on the board, and have students fill in the blanks related to their chosen animal:
- Name of Animal
- Where does it originate?
- Is it a herbivore, carnivore or omnivore?
- How does this animal help humans?
- How does this animal harm humans?
- How do humans harm this animal?
- How can humans help this animal?
- Together the group researches each person’s animal and individually fills out their animal’s information.
- Have groups share or present their information to the class.
- What did you discover about a particular animal (either yours or someone else’s) that you didn’t know before?
Post-Show Discussion Questions
- Which animal character in the play do you relate to the most, and why?
- Who do you think is the most powerful animal in the jungle – Shere Khan, Hathi or Kaa? Explain your choice. If you think it is another character explain why.
- Some of the animals do not want to accept Mowgli into the wolf pack because he is an outsider. In what ways are people sometimes made to feel like outsiders? What are some of the things we can do to make others feel included?
- Why do you think Shere Khan responds to humans the way he does? Explain your answer.
- Who do you think should be in charge of making the laws of the jungle, and who should make them for humans? Explain your reasoning.
- How did you feel about the declaration of the water truce? Did you think it was fair? Why or why not?
- How did your experience of the story change when it moved out of the jungle, back to the city and the land of humans? How did you relate to Messua and Maya compared to how you related to the animals? Share your thoughts.
- After seeing the play, do you think Mowgli is more wolf or more human? Explain your answer.
Post-Show Activity: Where Do You Stand?
This activity is an opportunity to get students thinking about their opinions and why they defend them.
- Prepare a series of statements about the play, e.g. Shere Khan deserved to meet his end the way he did. Strongly agree or strongly disagree? They should not be leading statements, as you do not want to influences the student’s instincts.
- In the front of the room, create a long imaginary line. All the way to the left side of the line represents “strong agreement”, and all the way to the right side represents “strong disagreement”. Ensure that there is enough space for students to stand in various spots along the imaginary line, so that you can distinguish between people’s positions.
- Make your first statement and have students respond by choosing to stand somewhere along the imaginary line. If they “strongly agree” with the statement that was made, they will stand on the far right side of the line. If they strongly disagree, they will stand to the far left. If they are neutral, they move to the centre.
- Ask for some of the students who picked “strongly agree”, “strongly disagree”, and some who remained neutral to share why they chose those positions.
- Make the next statement.
- Did you find this activity challenging and if so, why?
Post-Show Activity: Press Conference
In role, students take a stance and consider the perspective of the animals “speaking to the press”.
Paper and pens/pencils.
- Ask students to write down at least two questions that reporters could ask Mowgli and the animals about their experiences in the jungle (e.g. “What is it like knowing that some of your fellow jungle dwellers want to eat you?” or “What have you learned about community during your time together?”)
- Divide the class into three groups. One group will play Mowgli and the animals, one group will be the reporters, and one group will be the audience watching on TV at home.
- Hold a “press conference” in your classroom in which the reporters ask questions of Mowgli and the individual animals about their experiences in the jungle. Encourage students to be as thoughtful and imaginative with their answers as possible.
- Rotate groups, so that each group gets to be animals, journalists and audience.
- Was it more difficult for you to be in the position of posing the questions or answering them? Why?
- What did you learn from watching the press conference from the perspective of the audience?
Extension: Create a Jungle Book newspaper
- Create an edition of the Jungle Book Quarterly (or any other newspaper name) as a class based on their experience of the “Press Conference” and “Where do you Stand?” activities. Use the following suggestions/questions to give students ideas of what they can put in their newspaper, or brainstorm as a class to develop the content for the newspaper. Make sure that students approach the newspaper activity from a number of different points of view and editorial angles (see below).
- What are the headlines/main stories on the front page?
- Have students draw or photograph the front page picture and include (in the form of captions) information about what happened in the Press Conference.
- What other stories would be on the following pages?
- Who would advertise in this newspaper? Create the advertisements.
- Have students write editorials using a perspective they took on during the “Press Conference” or “Where Do You Stand?” activities.
Post-Show Activity: What’s the Status?
Students explore the “International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species” conservation status (see Appendix A) and research the conservation status of their chosen animal.
Computers or laptops; resources for research.
- Introduce the concept of “conservation status” and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species to the students (see Appendix A).
- Divide the class into groups of four or five and have them sit together.
- Each student chooses their favourite wild animal and in groups they research the conservation status of each person’s animal using the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- Prepare a handout with the questions below, or write them on the board or chart paper for students to fill out and organize their research.
- Share or present information in groups.
Questions for students:
- Write a few sentences telling us how this animal is doing in the wild.
- How many are there in the wild? Is that number going up, or down? How vulnerable is your animal to extinction?
- What are three factors that threaten this animal?
- Prepare a handout with the questions below, or write them on the board or chart paper for students to fill out and organize their research.
- Can you name something that can be done to help this animal, and how you would go about doing it?
- Were you surprised to discover the conservation status of the animal you chose? Why or why not?
- Has seeing the play made you feel a greater sense of responsibility to the animal kingdom? In what way?
Appendix A: Conservation Status:
The Conservation Status is the grade of a type of animal showing how well it is doing, how many there are in the wild, and how vulnerable the animal is to extinction. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is a worldwide conservation status listing. There are nine classifications:
Extinct (EX): No known living individuals.
Extinct in the wild (EW): Known only to survive in captivity.
Critically endangered (CR): Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
Endangered (EN): High risk of extinction in the wild.
Vulnerable (VU): High risk of endangerment in the wild.
Near threatened (NT): Likely to become endangered in the near future.
Least concern (LC): Lowest risk; animal is widespread and abundant.
Data deficient (DD): Not enough data to make a classification.
Not evaluated (NE): Has not yet been evaluated.
The official term “threatened” combines three categories: critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable.