The Wind in the Willows

Mr Toad in his car. Poop poop!

Glorious, stirring sight! The poetry of motion! The only way to travel! O bliss! O poop-poop! O my!...


The language, the characters, and the sheer joy of The Wind in the Willows is the kind of book that inspires young people to read, to write, to value friendship, to love nature, and to want to know more. Four little animals—the shy Mole, Rat, who loves the river, Badger who doesn't go out much, and Toad, whose boisterous adventures can have dangerous consequences—stand up to bullies, rescue a baby otter, and learn how to listen to what the wind whispers in the willows, all along the river.


In our production, the characters appear in many ways: as large puppets, hand puppets, masks, shadows, acted by humans, and on film. We like to keep the audience guessing, with small telling details and changes of perspective that stir the imagination.


Russell Levia's live music, played on banjo, harmonica, accordion, zither and hornpipe, uses themes from many composers, from Percy Grainger and Vaughan Williams to Beethoven.

K–6. 250 students

 

Ratty

Wow! What an amazing show. I love the use of language & careful attention to the character development - very much like the stories!! The musical accompaniment, use of puppets, beautiful props & set design are brilliant. This production was very accessible for children. Thanks for your efforts. You are a very talented team!—Grade one/two teacher, Ottawa Carleton District School Board

 

Brilliant production! The use of music added so much. Even the 6's were entranced, and they are a tough audience. This is the first time I've seen one of your productions and I loved it. Thank you!—An Ottawa area teacher

 

Just a quick note to let you know we adored your performance of The Wind in The Willows at Puppets Up! My four year old has been talking non-stop today with his 18 month old brother, about the importance of driving safely and ensuring you never steal a car. He has already asked if you will be returning to the festival next year (please do!), and in the meantime we might make the venture from Almonte to Orleans to see one of your performances later this year. Thanks again for putting on a wonderful show. It was a pleasure for both Duncan and I to experience your artistry. —A Parent

 

The props, your voices, the music, the movement and flow was perfect and inspiring. We will certainly be bringing some friends with us to see your performances at the Shenkman Arts Centre in the fall. Congratulations and thank you for a magical and memorable performance. —Another Parent



Mr Toad

Our study guide is available as a PDF here.

Curriculum Focus and Expectations
Characteristics:
Integrity, empathy, kindness and caring.
Relationships, rules, and responsibilities.
Expectations:
Express personal responses and make connections to characters, themes, and issues presented in their own and others' drama works
Demonstrate an awareness of different kinds of drama and theatre from different times and places
Themes:
Storytelling through puppetry and music, using classical stories as source for drama

Mr Mole

The River Bank
Mole cleans his house, emerges into the sunshine and, to his great delight, meets Rat. The two have a wonderful picnic but on the way home, over-enthused Mole capsizes the boat. Rat graciously invites Mole to stay and live with him.

The Open Road
Mole and Rat visit Toad of Toad Hall who is generous but tends to be conceited and obsessive. He takes them on a trip in his horse drawn caravan but when it is driven off the road into a ditch by a motor car, Toad has found a new craze: cars.

In the woods

The Wild Wood
Hoping to meet Badger, Mole ventures into the Wild Wood, where he is frightened by shadowy creatures and takes refuge in a the hollow tree. By the time Rat finds him, it is snowing and the two are lost in a snowstorm until they stumble on the welcome mat of Badger's house.

Mr. Badger
Mole and Rat enjoy Mr. Badger's warm hospitality. The three of them decide to take Toad in hand come spring.

Mr. Toad
Badger, Rat and Mole move in with Toad to try to cure his now dangerous addiction to motor-cars but Toad escapes their vigilance through an upstairs window. He steals a car, drives recklessly, insults a police officer, and is sentenced to twenty years in jail.

Toad in jail

Toad's Adventures
Toad, befriended by the jailor's daughter, dresses as a washerwoman to escape from jail. He hops a train to escape his pursuers, jumps off at an unknown wood, and shelters in a hollow tree.

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
When Otter's young son is missing, Rat and Mole row out looking for him. They hear a mysterious piping sound that draws them to an island where they catch a glimpse of Pan, the Friend and Helper, cradling the baby Otter.

Weasels in Toad Hall
In Toad's absence, Stoats and Weasels have moved into Toad Hall. When Toad returns, Badger, Mole and Rat hatch a plan to get it back.

The Weasel's Defeat
Mole spreads rumours among the Stoats that Toad has returned with a huge army. When the four friends storm the dining hall through a secret passageway, their sudden entrance causes such terror and confusion that the interlopers are easily defeated.

The End
Toad renounces motor cars and sends gifts and letters of apology to all those he has wronged. Everyone settles back into peaceful lives.

Times
  • Time for set up: 1 hour
  • Length of show: 50 minutes
  • Question period: 10 minutes
  • Take down time: 1 hour

We need use of the performance area for three hours.

Please re-arrange any activities scheduled for that time, and have the space cleared for our arrival.

Seating Arrangement

Our set will extend 25 feet across, and is 20 feet deep. We’ll help the teachers to seat their students.

The students should sit cross-legged on the floor, in order of age. This is easiest to accomplish if the students arrive in order of age, youngest to eldest. The youngest group could arrive about 5 minutes prior to the performance time.

You can see a PDF file of our seating plan for schools here, and our public show seating here.

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