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Youth Theatre Director Tim Howe tells all about The Wind in the Willows

There’s a lot of talk and whispering going on in Pembrokeshire and beyond about the Torch Youth Theatre’s summer production of Wind in the Willows. As a huge fan of Ratty, Badger, Mole and the delightful Toad, Anwen quizzed the director of the production to find out more …..

Tim Howe, Senior Manager Youth and Community at the Torch is under the spotlight and discusses Wind in the Willows that will appear on the Torch Theatre stage from 22 – 24 of July!


Tell us why you chose Wind in the Willows as the play for this year’s Youth Theatre production.

The Wind in the Willows is one of those stories that has a version which belongs to each generation. The moment you mention it to a group of people, they’ll say, “Oh yes, when I was growing up, we used to watch the one where Toad was played by David Jason”. And isn’t that the best thing? We all have a connection with this story, and I thought it’s time that Torch Youth Theatre created a version for their generation.

We all love Wind in the Willows, why do you think the story has such an appeal?

The story has a huge amount of appeal to everyone, and its themes are so familiar to all of us. We all recognise the friendship, loyalty, and the need for adventure that the story presents through such lovable characters as Mole and Ratty, and those we can’t help but love despite their faults like Toad. Overall, though there’s a reason it’s described as a timeless classic, beyond these universal ideas, it’s a story of heroes and villains, where we know that someway, somehow, good will always triumph! Isn’t that everyone’s hope?

We’ll obviously add our own Torch Theatre twist to the play – can you let us know what these twists are?

Ooo… well now you’re asking for spoilers! All I will give away is that there is a mysterious yellow monster that keeps making its presence felt in the wood, and Weasel claims to be in control of it, but is she?

For those who aren’t familiar with the storyline, give us a quick overview.

Mole is bored of spring cleaning and decides to leave her house and explore the world. Getting lost she seeks out some help from a friendly Water Rat who takes her under his wing. The two set out to explore the river and are soon interrupted by a loud, obnoxious and strangely interesting Toad. Toad possesses large amounts of money and loves spending it on the latest exciting trends – right now he’s into speedboats! Having disturbed the peace, Toad speeds off. Meanwhile the dastardly Weasel has been recruiting Ferrets and Stoats to join her gang who are trying to take over the Wild Wood and then Toad Hall itself. Mole and Ratty later go to the Wild Wood to visit the kind and responsible Badger to get her advice on getting Mole home and what to do about Toad. Badger decides that the three friends must attempt an intervention, to prevent Toad from throwing away even more money. However, Toad escapes, and, when he encounters a car, he steals it. Inevitably, he is caught and sent to prison. However, the jailer’s daughter takes pity on him and helps him escape. After many further adventures, Toad is at last rescued by the three friends. He learns that in his absence, Toad Hall has been taken over by weasels and stoats, but the villainous Wild Wooders are evicted in a climactic battle, and Mole finally gets to go home.

And what about the main characters – Ratty, Mole, Badger and of course Toad! Tell us a bit about them.

Mole (Moley, or Molly) normally lives underground but spends the story discovering the joys of life above ground. She is a bit of a nervous creature, who can get over excited and this sometimes leads her into trouble. She is a loyal and helpful friend.

The Water Rat (Ratty or Ratster) lives on the river and is devoted to finding adventure. Ratty is the first creature to meet the Mole and he is far more aware of the world than his underground friend. Ratty also dreams of the sea and the wider world beyond the river.

Badger is a wise and knowledgeable undergrounder. Her thoughtful speeches mean a lot to her friends, but she is also able to scare the other Wild Wooders when she needs to. She never does anything without thoroughly thinking it through first, but when she does act, it’s firm.  

The world-famous Toad of Toad Hall is one of those people who everyone could hate but secretly we all wish we were him! He has lots of money and loves the most expensive and up to date toys! He gets bored of thing very quickly and moves on to the next exciting thing… which often leads to adventure and danger!

And who, or what on earth is the Slurpex? Should we be afraid, very afraid?

The Slurpex? Well, we’ve all seen one lurking around roadworks and building sites, but in the play, we hear it roaring into life and roaming around the Wild Wood. The Weasel claims to be in charge of it, but it doesn’t always listen to her, and it’s slowly running over everything in the Wild Wood and forcing the animals out of their homes. We can’t promise the Weasel will keep it under control….

The rehearsals are in full swing and youngsters eight to 18 are attending. Tell us a bit about the Youth Theatre and how can people get involved.

Torch Youth Theatre is a safe creative space for all young people to learn about themselves, other people and the world around us. Our sessions are not just about acting and theatre; we ensure that our young people learn about social skills, problem-solving, and teamwork. Most importantly our young people have fun and make new friends. We run four age-appropriate groups on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and more details can be found here.

To finish – in three words (no more), describe our production of Wind in the Willows.

Big, Fun, Heartfelt.


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