February 26, 2017

Nora’s Ark – Production Guide

Why produce Nora’s Ark?

Notes to Director

Nora’s Ark may be performed with any number of additional animals. Animals do not need to only be in pairs. Special attention should be paid to the type of animal in relation to the story. Stay away from any animal that might be aware of fish and/or sea weed. (Example- Good animal, giraffe; bad animal, otter). Often the question arises, “How will the humans repopulate?” The answer is the Captain and Crew. Likewise, if necessary to adapt to your cast, Nora’s Daughters may be played as Sons. The Captain and Crew may convert to girls or you may mix and match. The casting is quite flexible, just be sure to change the necessary lines according to gender. (Example- You saved our lives, Ms. Nora. You and your sons). The final transitional scene from the Turtles stating that they would have gotten around to telling everyone about the food, to the Family Fishing scene on deck may be played in silence and in pantomime movement. It is a chance for all animals to cooperate and should show predators and prey working together for the common good. Lights may be used to spotlight important moments if desired. (Example- A Tiger helping a mouse gather seaweed).

Notes to Musical Director

Nora must be able to sing the demanding lyrics and melody of the opening number, It’s Gonna Rain. Predator and Prey soloists should have a good feeling for the blues. Bugsy must be able to handle the solo rubato opening of Swingin’ On the Family Tree. The closing number sung by the entire cast is a bebop piece based on the chord changes to Blue Skies. It is rather chromatic and great attention should be paid to the pitches and the feeling of the melody.

Notes to Choreographer

One obvious device is to have students mimic the movement of their particular animal character when traveling, but an easier and more efficient way of having students retain the same character elements throughout the piece is to have them create several individual and animal partner poses to refer to when on stage. I would suggest using these poses in conjunction with the traveling movements often, as opposed to more staged choreography, as the constant movement within the confines of the ship provides more dramatic tension in support of the plot action. Manipulate the students’ own animal movements by playing with speed, tempo, and effort (sustained vs. sudden; bound vs. free, etc.), depending on the mood of the scene. Use more “movement inclined” students to do spotlight dances in song breaks. The songs lend themselves to choreography in classically American theater dance styles (i.e., a blues shuffle in “There’s Blue All Around Me” or a swinging soft shoe in “I See Blue”). Performers can create their own scenarios for The Chase first before determining the order in which the chasers/chased enter/exit.

Notes to Set Designer

Nora’s Ark is essentially one set. The Laboratory, which begins the play, can be created with a few tables and a free standing chalk board or chart paper on easel. Once these elements are removed the set can be the top deck of the ship. To create a nice effect with animals singing, dancing, and delivering lines use as many levels as possible. Nautical accessories- life preservers/rings, crates, rope can adorn the stage. Large cut outs of additional animals may be placed throughout the set to create the feeling of a loaded ship if you have a relatively small cast and the stage feels empty.

Notes to Costumer

Nora’s Ark has been performed with a wide range of costume types. Steer clear of full face masks and costumes which restrict movement and/or singing and speaking, and do not provide enough flexibility for dancing. Elephant will be most difficult as its trunk can interfere with singing and speaking. Use light weight hard foam with wire. Position trunk upward, like an “S”, for best results. Animals in general may be dressed in black with tails and noses appropriately. Nora is in a lab coat in the opening but may remove it during foul weather scenes and later shipboard action.

Notes on Props

Few props are necessary for Nora’s Ark. Umbrellas and rain gear are fine for the daughters, but the animals don’t need them. Umbrellas can be converted into fishing poles for the final scene where animals are collecting fish and sea weed for each other.

Props List

General Laboratory Equipment (clipboards, charts, globe, beakers, bird cage, plastic white dove adds a nice touch), Umbrellas, Rain coats, Fishing net, Seaweed, Fish, Life preservers/rings, Crates, Ropes, etc.

Additional Notes

Nora’s Ark may also be played by a small cast of adults for children. A production completed in Bialystok, Poland in 2013 showed just how brilliantly this could be done. We invite you to look on our website for more visuals of that production. Likewise, if you are interested in exploring this option, as well as condensed versions of the script, or a puppet show version please feel free to contact us.