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Q&A with Dyfrig Morris in The Jungle Book

Q. Can you tell us about your character you play in The Jungle Book?

I play Baloo the Bear, a fun and silly animal who ends up trying to look after Mowgli as they grow up in the forest.

Q. What do you think your character learns upon their journey throughout the play, and is this something that is relatable to younger audiences today?

In this version of The Jungle Book, Baloo is what you might call an irresponsible man-child, obsessed with eating, singing and having fun at the expense of any responsibility. While fun to be around, Baloo’s actually quite selfish in doing whatever pleases him all the time; part of his journey in the show is realizing that caring for others and what they need brings its own rewards.

Q. How did you prepare to play the role and what research did you do?

I did what I always do, which is learn all my lines before starting the job. I try to do this without learning a ‘particular’ way of saying them so that they feel fresh when it comes to rehearsals and you can really listen to your fellow performers because you’re not worrying about your own lines. I find when I do this, I have time to research during rehearsals, and then see what is helpful in direct relation to the script and character. For Baloo I looked at footage of Indian Sloth Bears, toddlers playing and occasionally referenced certain actors such as John Goodman.

Q. You also play musical instruments in the show, as well as playing Baloo. When did you first begin to learn to play an instrument, what made you start?

I started playing piano at about 7 and although I stuck with it, it wasn’t my first choice. Drums came along quite late, I started playing those when I was about 16 and from there I’ve never looked back. I don’t think there was a definitive moment when I chose drums; I’d already been playing drums in my head for years by then and it felt very natural when I finally got behind a kit.

Q. What are the challenges of being an actor – musician in a show?

One of the challenges is figuring out how to be most useful to the show; especially for a drummer it’s very easy to play too much when what’s most important is the musicality of the song. Knowing when NOT to play is just as important as knowing when you should.

Q. What is your favourite part of the rehearsal process?

I think probably the first two weeks when everyone is getting to know each other, and you start finding out how other people work. This can be when discoveries about the script and the possible direction of the show come thick and fast and its fun trying to process all that information quickly.

Q. What is it that you think makes this production of The Jungle Book special?

This production has a spirit to it that I really appreciate. I have seen versions where an attempt has been made to steer so clear of the lightness of the cartoon version that they end up rather too sombre and not as fun as they could have been. I think we strike a good balance between silliness and seriousness with our show. That combined with musicians and some great new songs make this a new version that stands out I think.

Q. What would be your top 3 tips for anyone wanting to be an actor?

  1. Read……as much as possible. Being well versed in a lot of general knowledge and experiences will serve you well.
  2. Start from the text and work out from there; let the script tell you what it wants to say and hopefully your interpretation will be organic and truthful.
  3. Understand that you’re always part of a company of people who are working together to make something magical

Catch Dyfrig Morris performing as Baloo in The Jungle Book from 8-12 May. Book your tickets online by clicking here or call our Box Office on 01253 290190.

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