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A

B R I E F

G U I D E

F O R

T E A C H E R S

Meet the

VISIONARY DIRECTOR

behind The Lion King Turn to page 4

Learn about the

AWARDWINNING EDUCATION PROGRAMME

easy to use via free online hub Turn to page 8


‘From the day we arrive on this planet and blinking, step into the sun

THERE IS

MORE TO SEE THAN CAN

EVER BE SEEN more to do than can ever be done’ From ‘Circle of Life’ – Lyrics by Tim Rice

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Julie Taymor’s When the Walt Disney Company began work on adapting their Academy Award-winning animated feature film for the stage, they were faced with an enormous challenge... Left: Julie Taymor’s original costume design for Mufasa Below: Shaun Escoffery as Mufasa in the London production Below right: As the grasslands appear in the London production

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ow do you present this beloved story on stage? How could you portray a savannah full of animals, reptiles, fish, birds and insects – everything from an ant to an elephant? How might you convey the great expanse of the African wilderness, and stage momentous plot-points including a terrifying wildebeest stampede and a raging waterfall? These impossible questions found one brilliant answer, when Thomas Schumacher – Executive Producer of the film of THE LION KING, and now President and Producer of the Disney Theatrical Group – remembered a unique theatre artist he had worked with previously. That artist’s name was Julie Taymor. “When I met with Julie Taymor, I could see she had a new vision for the project,” Schumacher says. “She was excited by the music, by the setting and by the opportunities for staging. She


Unique Vision was challenged by the task of re-creating something that theatregoers would know by heart, but she wanted them once again to feel in their heart. We encouraged her not to feel bridled by the look of the movie and to create something wholly original from it.” Chosen to direct as well as design the look of the production, Taymor immersed herself in the project, discovering unique and exciting ways to overcome obstacles. “Many of THE LION KING’s scenes are seemingly impossible to transfer to the stage,” she says. “The wildebeest stampede, the elephant graveyard, and its hundred hyenas. They are all inherently cinematic scenes. I relished the chance to stage them theatrically.”

elaborate costuming, stilts, kites... no device would be off-limits, as long as it engaged an audience and their imaginations. Her one central rule would be that the performer would never be hidden by the device. “One of the most powerful elements of the film is the rich humanity of the animal characters,” she explains. “I wanted the human being to be an essential part of stylisation. I wanted the audience to marvel at what a human being can do through true technical prowess.”

Above: Original costume design for Scar Above left: Grassland costume sketch Below: George Asprey as Scar in the London production Below left: Julie Taymor sculpts Scar’s mask out of clay, portraying his prickly character

Rather than be limited to one particular style, Taymor would use a wide range of theatrical styles, conventions and traditions to represent the myriad of creatures included in the story. Hand-held puppets, full-body puppets, shadow puppets, masks,

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Getting

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Ready to Roar

The Lion King in Rehearsal

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isney’s landmark musical THE LION KING relies on a cast of 50 supremely talented actors, singers and dancers to bring the savannah to life on stage every night. This extraordinary company of performers come to London from all over the world – 15 different countries are represented in the current London cast – and each brings their own unique skills to the show.

The cast have made it through a rigorous audition process. Many have auditioned annually for several years to make it into the show, and then endured up to eight auditions to join the company this year. Rehearsals begin nine long weeks before the cast’s first performance. In addition to learning the songs, scenes and choreography as you might have with any musical, performers in THE LION KING will always have important new skills to acquire during their rehearsal period – these might include walking on stilts, gymnastic tumbling, mask work, operating a number of different puppets, and more. Musically, the show’s lyrics include chants in six different African languages, drawing intricate harmonies and distinctive rhythms together. The all-pervasive percussion, heard throughout the show, is also a mainstay of the rehearsal room – a musician plays conga and djembe drums, which is essential to get the performers used to THE LION KING’s unique sound. The choreographic numbers in the show will bring special challenges to even the most seasoned of performers

– the dance in the show is a truly unique fusion of styles, including ballet, hip-hop, contemporary and more. Additionally, all performers are required to master the subtle and intricate movement style of Balinese dance, which is seen throughout the show. Eventually the company are ready and make their long-awaited debut – but the rehearsal process never ends... Regular dance, vocal and movement classes are essential to keep every aspect of the show perfect.

Left: Nick Afoa (Simba) and Thea Barnes (Resident Dance Supervisor); Above: Janique Charles (Nala); Right: George Asprey (Scar)

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Take your pupils on a journey they will never forget Over one million pupils have already experienced THE LION KING through its award-winning EDUCATION PROGRAMME. Combined with seeing the production, this programme will take your pupils on an engaging journey that they will never forget. Developed by teachers, for teachers, the programme is fully curriculum linked to support subjects at KS2 and 3 and is easily adaptable. All of the resources are available for free on an online hub; the easy-to-use search tool allows you to discover activities and lesson plans that are relevant for your classroom.

‘The information provided here is a wonderful resource and allows everyone to fully engage with the show in a motivating and enthusiastic manner!’ 8

MARY DRIVER, HEADTEACHER, WILLIAM RANSOM PRIMARY SCHOOL


The award-winning education programme consists of:

■ D  etailed individual lesson plans with accompanying worksheets for students.

■ ‘The Spirit Of The Lion King’ community-focused online resource.

■ Behind-the-scenes  video episodes with accompanying student questionnaires.

■ A 28-minute documentary introducing the team who work backstage on each performance.

Discover more and explore resources at lionkingeducation.co.uk

EDUCATION WORKSHOPS Led by specially trained Disney Teaching Artists, workshops give pupils the rare opportunity to perform scenes, songs and choreography from THE LION KING, and are the perfect accompaniment to your pupils’ visit to the show. Ask for more information when booking your tickets. Additional costs apply.

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■ Julie Taymor’s internationally celebrated stage adaptation was first seen on Broadway in 1997 and has now been seen by over 90 million people across six continents.

■ Lighting Designer Donald Holder used nearly 700 lighting instruments to create the show’s lighting plot.

Fascinating facts about

■ The largest and longest animal in the show is the elephant, which is 13-feet long and nine-feet wide. The puppet is operated by four actors.

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■ There are 232 puppets in the show, including rod, shadow and full-sized puppets. Some of these were inspired by Japanese Bunraku puppetry.


■ There are six indigenous African languages spoken and sung in the show.

The Lion King ■ The character of Simba is represented in five ways: as a hand-held puppet, a rod puppet, a shadow puppet, as a child actor and finally as an adult actor.

■ It takes152 people to prepare for each performance of THE LION KING at the Lyceum Theatre.

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DISCOVER THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE LION KING  

Learn about how the show’s visionary director Julie Taymor created Disney’s award-winning musical

DISCOVER THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE LION KING  

Learn about how the show’s visionary director Julie Taymor created Disney’s award-winning musical

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