Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon spoke to Peter Glanville about adapting and directing How to Hide a Lion. 

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Hi Peter thank you so much for talking to me. How are you feeling about bringing How to Hide a Lion back to the stage?  The show was a great success when we first presented it at Polka in 2016, so it’s wonderful to be able to remount the production for a UK tour this autumn, starting off just up the road from Polka at our lovely neighbours, the New Wimbledon Theatre.

For those who aren’t familiar with the story could you explain a bit more about what it is about? It is the story of a kind Lion who strolls into a town looking for a hat to buy. The townspeople are frightened of the Lion and chase him away. However, he ends up hiding in a garden and is found and befriended by a young girl called Iris. There are then a series of comic scenarios where she hides the Lion in the house before he is found and runs away. I won’t give too many spoilers about the ending but the Lion does become a hero and he does get his hat.

How did you first discover the How to Hide a Lion? My eldest daughter, who is 6 years old, is called Iris, so that is the reason I initially bought the book. She loved being read the story and I loved it too, imagining that it could be made into a play for children and families.

What was it about the story that made you want to bring it to the stage initially? Helen Stephen’s illustrations are very evocative and the story is compelling, with unexpected twists and turns. It also shifts from an outdoor setting to a domestic world , and from intimate moments between two characters to the more epic narrative of the townspeople and the Lion. I began by thinking about the Lion as a puppet and soon came to imagine the entire world being represented in this way. I had worked with composer Barb Jungr previously on ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, and felt that songs and music would be a good way of driving the narrative and liberating movement possibilities for the puppets. Barb introduced a jazz feel to the play and Laura McEwen’s designs introduced the concept of a Hat shop as a framing device for the story.

What do you think young audiences will take away from the show? The heart and soul of the story is about a lovely friendship between Iris and the Lion. It is beautifully represented – playful, fun, secretive, but also with some moments of pathos , when they are apart.  Children love the emotional nature of the story as well as the excitement of the ‘Hiding’ and the stirring robber finale. There are also some cracking songs that children and parents will be singing and humming long after they’ve seen the show.

How would you describe the show for those thinking about coming along?  It is a funny, exciting and heart-warming tale which, as The Guardian review says ‘Comes to life with a Roar’ Raa !!

By Emma Clarendon 

How to Hide a Lion opens its UK tour at the New Wimbledon Theatre on the 8th September. For more information about the tour dates and booking information visit: https://www.pigtailsproductions.co.uk/how-to-hide-a-lion .