Here’s the second column in my series asking why theaters dumb down their shows for kids. Since this one focuses on fairy tales, I want to share it with my readers here.
Let’s delve into a pretty common denominator in the world of theater for young audiences (TYA): fairy tales. There is no end to internet lists “revealing” or “discovering” the dark origins of fairy tales, yet it is so surprising that, once upon a time, we actually told children scary stories? Shocking!
Many of the original versions of fairy tales were told to help children and adults confront the very real dangers of their times. Hansel and Gretel is an excellent example and very likely the most well known: it’s famine and hunger that motivate the mother or stepmother (depending on the version) to convince her husband to abandon his children in the woods. Most stage productions hide that part of the tale. It is fear of the darkness inherent in the stories that can cause playwrights to move too far in the other, more saccharine direction, leading to meaningless takes on fairy tales that now feel like the norm. When we remove fear from a fairy tale — or any story — we remove its connection to our lives, and that dumbing down affects theater audiences for a lifetime. Without true connections to our own feelings, fears and joys, why bother attending?
Read more at The Clyde Fitch Report.
Caleb Foote and Angela Giarratana in “Hansel & Gretel Bluegrass” (Photo: Cooper Bates)
I got a little peek at the cover for a new YA Fantasy, The Meddlers of Moonshine by A.E. Decker. It’s the second in the Moonlight Mayhem series.
I love the synopsis (below) and description of the series by another author, Susan Sullivan:
“I’d say it’s like Shrek meets The Wizard of Oz if Dorothy were Wednesday Addams and Toto a talking cat with bat wings.”
Sounds very cool. Fairy tale mashups are an obsession of mine and after reading some more of Decker’s work, it sounds like she’s a real find for me! In fact, I would have posted this sooner but I was gobbling up her other stories.
Here’s the summary:
Ever since he snitched that avocado from Miss Ascot’s pack, things have been going wrong. Armed with a handful of memories he never realized he had, Rags-n-Bones searches for a way to put right whatever he did to Widget in the past. If only he knew what it was! Unfortunately, the only person who seems to have answers is a half-mad youth that only Rags can see.
Widget is also suffering from a ghost infestation that has the townsfolk almost as spooked of outsiders as they are of actual spooks. While Rags-n-Bones seeks answers in the past, Ascot offers the town leaders her service as an exorcist, only to be handed an ultimatum: banish the ghosts or be banished herself!
Who’s meddling with Widget? To catch the culprit, Ascot and Rags-n-Bones must match wits with a shifty sorcerer, a prissy ex-governess, and a troublingly attractive captain before the town consigns itself to the graveyard of history.
World Weaver Press online
A. E. Decker hails from Pennsylvania. A former doll-maker and ESL tutor, she earned a master’s degree in history, where she developed a love of turning old stories upside-down to see what fell out of them. This led in turn to the writing of her YA novel, The Falling of the Moon. A graduate of Odyssey 2011, her short fiction has appeared in such venues as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Fireside Magazine, and in World Weaver Press’s own Specter Spectacular. Like all writers, she is owned by three cats. Come visit her, her cats, and her fur Daleks at wordsmeetworld.com or@MoonfallMayhem.
|I had a hard time getting into Amy, the protagonist. At first, I thought it was because we
had so little in common; then I realized that I felt too close to her experiences being bullied (though my family situation is quite different). I purposely distanced myself from her pain because we had similar high school experiences.
It’s hard not to compare re-tellings, so Gregory Maguire’s Wicked kept popping into my brain. I mostly thought about it when Paige described the settings, and how differently Oz appears in both books versus THE MOVIE. They are not at all the same stories, thankfully, with Paige focusing on magic within the politics of Oz. Every character introduced keeps you guessing, and it may be the most interesting interpretation of Dorothy’s companions as I’ve ever seen. I also became interested in reading Baum’s original books, which is always a good sign in a re-telling.