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Heed the 'Call of the Wild' Tuesday

Heed the 'Call of the Wild' Tuesday

January 11th, 2019 by Aaron Brand in Features

"Call of the Wild: Illustrated Edition," a theatrical adaptation of the literary classic, will be performed Tuesday at the Perot Theatre. The adaptation was penned by a playwright born in Texarkana. (Submitted photo)

"Call of the Wild: Illustrated Edition" at the Perot Theatre on Tuesday puts a classic Jack London story on stage as a theatrical adaptation penned by a playwright born in Texarkana.

Part of the Theatre for Young Audiences series at the Perot, the children's theater production will be presented at both 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. As of early this week, tickets were still available to the public for these student shows, more of them for the afternoon spot.

The late Austin-based playwright Jason Tremblay, who adapted for the theater this thrilling tale of an Alaskan sled dog, grew up in Nashville, Ark., the first five years of his life. From there, his family moved to Pine Bluff, and Tremblay later earned degrees from Arkansas State University and the M.F.A. program at the University of Texas. He excelled as a playwright, winning awards and achieving national recognition before his passing in 2017.

The adaptation combines a traditional theatrical performance with illustrations presented on stage to make a multi-media production. A screen wraps around the stage to show these photographs, which relate to history and real life. Classic illustrations are included, too, in addition to new ones. The play, produced by Theatre Heroes in Austin, is geared to students from 4th grade to 8th grade.

"It's a one-man play. It is from the perspective of the Alaskan sled dog," said Alisha Tarbill, Theatre for Young Audiences coordinator, adding that Tremblay had a passion for student shows. "I think it's going to be a great experience."

London's tale about Buck and the Klondike Gold Rush was published as a short novel in 1903, first seeing print form in the Saturday Evening Post and immediately finding success with reviewers and the public. The book explores themes like survival, courage, civilization and primitivism, and educationally it connects to curriculum about the fine arts, language arts, history, science and both emotional and social development.

The play stars Noel Gaulin, an award-winning actor who's toured the country with various theater groups.

Tarbill said she's looking forward to seeing the play herself, as is her daughter. She's worked with local school districts to let them know the playwright was born here. He's an example of someone local who found success following his artistic passion, and he may inspire local students who love the arts.

"It's very exciting to learn so much about the playwright," Tarbill said.

(Admission is $7. Tickets can be bought at the Perot Theatre Box Office the day of the show. More info: TRAHC.org or 903-792-8681.)

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