UH School of Theatre & Dance prepares “Haroun and the Sea of Stories,” a Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) show, as the year comes to a close. Created with both younger and older audiences in mind, the TYA show premieres 8 p.m. November 15 at Quintero Theatre.
“Haroun and the Sea of Stories” is based on work by distinguished Muslim author Salman Rushdie. The play captures Rushdie’s unique perspective on life, the world and the importance of having a voice. “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” Director Adam Noble said he selected this play because it could engage both younger audiences and older attendees who can relate to the show’s complex themes.
Noble said the play follows the “Pixar model.” Even though the show is intended for children, it explores complicated themes like censorship, marriage, divorce, religion, politics and other topics older crowds can connect with, like a Pixar film.
“There’s something magical going on in a Pixar movie, where they have a layer for the kids that keeps them entertained and has a good message, and there’s another layer for the adults watching, like in ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories,’” Noble says.
The play will explore challenging issues like censorship and authoritarianism as well as the power and dangers of free speech, based on the author’s personal history. Rushdie was nearly silenced forever by a fatwā, or an Islamic edict, for penning “The Satanic Verses,” a book inspired by Muhammad’s life that features magical realism on top of contemporary people and events.
Noble hopes audiences will gain a new perspective on life and understand the real power of storytelling through this play, inspired by Rushdie’s work. The director adds that TYA shows like “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” give students involved the chance to understand the TYA genre and explore this particular branch of theatre. The play pushes the show’s crew and cast to re-examine how they tell stories and to embrace dynamic, immersive spectacles as well as “theatrical magic.”
“My vision for the show is to celebrate what it means to tell a good story: to entertain, to educate, to open a dialogue and to offer perspective, which are all things a good story does,” Noble says. “I hope audiences sit down, look at this amazing set, take a ride with our characters and have a good and thought-provoking time.”