TV star Mina Anwar joins Sheffield Crucible cast of 'astonishing and spectacular' Life of Pi

Thin Blue Line star Mina Anwar is combining her talents for acting, movement and puppetry for an innovative new production of Life of Pi at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

By Julia Armstrong
Monday, 24th June 2019, 2:18 pm
Updated Monday, 24th June 2019, 6:11 pm
Mina Anwar in rehearsals for Life of Pi
Mina Anwar in rehearsals for Life of Pi

Life of Pi is based on Yann Martell’s best-selling book about an Indian zoo owner’s son called Pi who finds himself trapped on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger after his family’s sea voyage to a new life in Canada goes tragically wrong.

The book was also made into a 2012 movie by director Ang Lee.

The show uses amazing puppets created by a team whose members have worked on the iconic War Horse and on Running Wild at the Lyceum.

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Mina said: “I play Pi’s mother but this is an ensemble piece and we all play quite a lot of things. 

“We all play lots of different elements. It’s not only his relationships to human beings, there’s puppetry with three professional puppeteers playing some of the animals, and I operate the head of an orang utan, who represents the mother.

“We also play his environment – so on the water we play debris on the water and fish.”

The show presents a lot of challenges for the performers, said Mina: “There’s lot so of elements which I’ve done and been trained for. 

“I’m trained in contemporary dance and physical theatre and I worked at the Bubble in London years ago, doing puppetry, movement and dance and physical theatre.”

Mina said that Pi’s relationship with his mum is a normal, loving one. “There’s nothing remarkable. They’re living in remarkable times of political turmoil. 

“It’s extraordinary, them moving lock, stock and barrel with their zoo.”

Mina has read the book and seen the movie. She said: “The book was extraordinary. It’s quite a tense book with no through narrative and quite a sensual piece of art.

“It’s a privilege to be asked to do the first theatrical study of it.”

Mina has enjoyed brushing off her puppetry skills. “Puppetry has moved along. It’s not Punch and Judy, it’s moved into an extraordinary feat of artistry and skill. 

“When you come and see it, there's a clear story and it’s magical. We want the audience to be inside the story and enthralled and enraptured and believe eveything around you.

“It’s an extraordinary 3D theatrical experience, especially in this space where an audience are all around the action.

“It will be astonishing in some bits, spectacular in other bits.

“It’s a remarkable story about man and the elements and his connection with the animals, and the animal within him.”

Mina knows the Crucible stage well from her appearance in the original production of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. The show, which became a huge West End hit, is currently being filmed in Sheffield by city-based Warp Films for release on the big screen.

Mina said: “The original cast have all gone now. It’s quite a long time since I left. I created that role and went to the West End and was in it this time last year in the West End. Everyone who follows you has to follow your brief.”

Mina, known for a huge range of TV appearances, has fond memories of The Thin Blue Line, but is currently concentrating on stage work, directing and acting.

Life of Pi is at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield from June 28 to July 20. Tickets: