New adaptation of The Jungle Book reimagines hero Mowgli as young refugee girl

This decision was also inspired by Khan’s daughter. During the pandemic lockdowns, the girl would eavesdrop on Khan’s production Zoom calls and comment on the irony of shipping sets across the world in a play about the ravages of climate change.

He says: “What hit me was when she said, ‘You want change as long as you don’t have to change the way you work.’ And that triggered something deep in me.”

Instead of merely talking to his children about climate change, he believes that art has a different power in inspiring children.

“When they experience something through art, they absorb it in the way you cannot do when somebody is talking to you, because it feels like they are telling you what to think. But art is not there to give you answers. It’s there to inspire you to ask the questions.”

Khan admits that when his daughter watches the show, she finds some parts boring and slow-paced, but he cautions against fulfilling her generation’s search for quick gratification.

“They respond very quickly, they don’t get context – they just say it as they see it – without really listening to the full narrative. So, when they see it a second time, the criticism is less because they start to understand the work.”

He adds: “Theatre is still a place like a book, where you have to take time. You have to give time in order to fully get the best out of it.”

Book It/Jungle Book Reimagined

Where: Esplanade Theatre, 1 Esplanade Drive
When: March 8, 7.30pm; and March 9, 3pm
Admission: From $32

Three other shows to catch at March On 2024

Aki’s Playground

In this multi-sensory experience by Singapore-based artist collective Play!, journey through mystical forests, cosmic galaxies and oceanic worlds with interactive light and sound displays, as well as workshops. Recommended for children between the ages of three and eight.

Where: Esplanade Annexe Studio, 1 Esplanade Drive
When: March 14 to 17, 11am to 2pm and 3 to 6pm
Admission: $15

Caliban’s Island

Inspired by William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, this interactive play by immersive theatre company Void Deck Games follows a group of shipwrecked children on a quest to reverse a curse that has transformed adults into strange animal hybrids. Recommended for children aged seven and above.

Where: Various locations, starting at Esplanade Basement 2 Carpark, 1 Esplanade Drive
When: March 8 to 10, March 13 to 17, 11am and 4pm
Admission: $30

The Plants

Australian participatory arts company Playable Streets has set up plant-based instruments for the public to play, with live performances by local musicians at night. No musical experience is required for this event, which will feature a series of creative exercises. Recommended for all ages.

Where: Esplanade Lawn, outside Singtel Waterfront Theatre, 8 Raffles Avenue
When: March 7 to 10, March 14 to 17, 5 to 7.30pm; performance at 7.30pm
Admission: Free

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