Interview with Doyle Ott, Director of 'The Miraculous Journey Of Edward Tulane'

Carlye Pollack. Photo credit: Melissa Nigro

Carlye Pollack. Photo credit: Melissa Nigro

Performance Days            
Feb 21 - Mar 22: Fridays, 7 p.m., Saturdays & Sundays, 11 a.m. & 2 p.m., Osher Studio, Berkeley

Mar 28 - Apr 12: Saturdays & Sundays, 11 a.m. & 2 p.m., Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco

$18 children | $22 for adults | $20 seniors | $13 group of 15+

The Bay Area Children’s Theatre (BACT) presents 'The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,' a moving stage adaptation of Kate DeCamillo’s award-winning story about being loved and learning to love. I spoke with director, Doyle Ott, about the exciting upcoming production with BACT. 

Can you tell me about the story of Edward Tulane?

The story takes place in early 20th century America where Edward, an elegant china rabbit, is snatched from the arms of the little girl who adores him and gets lost. His easy existence becomes an epic, sometimes painful, journey that touches the lives of everyone he meets, from an old fisherman to a hobo to a little boy protecting his sister. 

Tell me about your background and what you bring to the production.

My passion is in theater, circus and puppetry. I studied at the Circus Center in San Francisco, among other places. My work blends theater, physical performance, and music and this play is the perfect combination of all three. Nearly all the music is performed live on stage. We have four terrific actors portraying 25 different people which makes this great physical theater. They don’t have time for costume and make up changes to indicate different characters so we rely on how the actors change bodies and voices from moment to moment.

There is a lot of raw emotion in this story. How does your background in clowning make this version unique?

Making transformations of space happen on stage is a common concept in the circus. For instance, when everything comes out of a trunk and this production a has whole lot of trunks. It does have a lot of emotion but it is funny, at times sad, and sweet. The best comedy is 49% tragedy but has a a wonderful ending.

What is special about this production?

Besides the amazing story, the professional team of actors are incredibly committed, the design team brings magic to the stage and the costumes are wonderful. It has that special magic that can only happen in live theater. 

Why is it important to create theater for young audiences?

We all love and learn from stories. A good show gives audience gives us a chance to think about who we might be, where we come from and who we are. This script is particularly perfect for young audiences because it acknowledges the deep emotions that children have that we don’t always acknowledge. It’s like a fairytale, sometimes it's sad or scary and touches on emotions we may not always feel comfortable talking about.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane opens Saturday, February 21 in Berkeley thru March 22 at the Osher Studio in Berkeley. Then from March 28 - April 12 at the Theater at the Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco. This production is recommended for children age 8 and up. Tickets are $22 adults, $20 seniors, $18 children, $13 groups (minimum 15). Contact the box office at (510) 296-4433 or order tickets online.

Doyle Ott  (director) directed Go Dog, Go and The Little Engine that Could for the Bay Area Children’s Theatre and played the title role in the company’s production of The Cat in the Hat. Other recent directing credits include King Stag for Curtain Theatre, Great Divide at Sonoma State, and Three Wolves and a Lamb for Playwright's Foundation. Ott has performed with SF Shakespeare, Foolsfury, Golden Thread, Make-A-Circus, Lunatique Fantastique, and many other companies. In addition to directing and performing, he frequently works on new scripts as a playwright, dramaturg and translator, and is a company member of Playground. Ott is the Director of Theatre at Children’s Fairyland in Oakland, where he has written, directed and devised over 20 fairy tale plays for young performers. He also teaches at Sonoma State University and is a Feldenkrais practitioner.