The Borrowers covers events in the first two books in Norton’s series (The Borrowers and The Borrowers Afield). Under the floorboards, Arriety Clock lives a quiet little life with her parents. Why, they just “borrow” whatever they may need from the humans above… until the boy who lives upstairs sees Mr. Clock. “And that’s how the whole world changes shape.” Forced to flee the house to save themselves, the Clocks begin the journey of a lifetime out in the wide, and ever so large, world. As they struggle to survive they make new friends and learn that, maybe, the world isn’t such a scary place after all.
About the play, SCT Artistic Director Linda Hartzell says, “Full of suspense and humor, this classic story of tiny people living in a giant world shows us the tug-of-war every family goes through as children grow up and yearn for independence and their parents want to protect and shelter them. This really is a snapshot of family life, though the circumstances, and stature, are truly extraordinary.”
The intersection of the little, borrowed world of the Clock Family and our own presents interesting opportunities for the production staff. “Scale is the biggest challenge in this play,” says SCT Properties Shop Manager Edie Whitsett. “So, this is where I must use my imagination. I’m envisioning using a spool of thread as a stool. I could also see them using knitting needles as spears and toothpaste caps as cups.”
Under the floor boards, as cozy as you please, Arriety Clock and her parents, Homily and Pod, live a quiet little life. Why, they just borrow whatever they may need, like a teacup from the dollhouse that is just the right size for them. Arriety longs to go upstairs, helping her father with the borrowing, but after what happened to her cousin Eggletina (an incident with a cat that no one speaks of) it is forbidden. Until the Boy who lives upstairs, so big and so lonely, sees her father. “And that’s how the whole world changes shape.”
Now, to keep Arriety safe, and to ensure they don’t have to emigrate, Pod will teach his daughter how to borrow. The amount of space above the floor is amazing! It almost overwhelms poor Arriety, who just isn’t used to so much. No sooner has Pod moved off in search of brush fibers than Arriety is spotted by a “human bean.” As if that isn’t bad enough, she and the Boy even have a conversation. Now what are the Clocks to do? Boy, however, means them no harm, even if he does pry up the floorboards (their roof!) in order to find their home. Why, he just wants to help, to give them presents. Yes, this might just be a wonderful friendship. Before they have time to get to know each other, however, Mrs. Driver stumbles across the Clock home, thinking it is a mouse nest. In her horrible agitation and fear, she asks the gardener to smoke out “the mice.” Luckily, the Clocks manage to escape the poisonous gases by jumping out the air vent. They must keep their wits about them as they venture across the orchard in search of where Eggletina’s parents live.
As Homily frets over spending the night in an old boot, Arriety wonders at the vastness of the world in front of her. Here it is—the adventure she has always dreamt of. And wouldn’t you know it, but here’s another something straight out of her dreams—another Borrower! Dreadful Spiller. He may be filthy and a little rough, but he’s a Borrower just like her. Spiller helps keep the Clocks safe, and fed, and helps the summer days pass. All summer, Pod goes in search of the other Borrowers, and every evening he returns, more exhausted, having found nothing, until one day, he collapses. Spiller sets off to find the Clocks a proper home where they can rest and be safe. As they wait for his return, snow begins to fall signaling that winter is truly upon them. Once Spiller returns, he leads the Clocks to their relatives, safe and snug behind a fireplace in a nearby cottage, where Arriety is free to go out in the sun and rain and whole wide world.
The cast of The Borrowers includes some new faces and returning favorites. Longtime SCT veterans Emily Chisholm (Peter Pan and In the Northern Lands: Nordic Myths) and Marianne Owen (last seen at SCT in I Was a Rat! and A Tale of Two Cities) are joined by SCT newcomers Ian Bell, Rio Codda, Chris Ensweiler and Zoaunne LeRoy.
The cast is supported by an excellent production team, including Set Designer Carey Wong, Costume Designer Deane Middleton, Lighting Designer Rick Paulsen, SCT Resident Sound Designer Chris R. Walker, Puppet Designer Annett Mateo, Fight Choreographer Geoffrey Alm, Puppet Coach Don Darryl Rivera and Dialect Coach Gin Hammond.
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