A Director’s Perspective
We asked the brilliant Rebekah Scallet, director of The Weaver’s Tales, for her insight into Act II.
I am sucker for romance. It’s been true since my childhood diet of Molly Ringwald movies and Jane Austen novels. And it’s perhaps that love of romance that drew me to weaving together these three fairy tales in a surprisingly unromantic way. Even when I am enjoying watching that first kiss over the birthday cake, I often find myself thinking, “Really, that’s it? This person’s life ends with that kiss? Or with a marriage proposal?” In Cinderella and the Devil, we go beyond the kiss at the end of the movie.
This production is based on three stories: the original Grimm’s “Cinderella,” “The Robber Bridegroom,” and “The Devil Who Married Three Sisters,” (also told as “The Fitcher’s Bird,” “Bluebeard” and in other incarnations in other cultures). “The Robber Bridegroom” and “The Devil Who Married Three Sisters” are both very dark, and tell tales of women who become entangled with men who want nothing more than to chop them up into little pieces. Cinderella is, of course, lighter, and has a happy ending with a real prince. But the original, non-Disney-ized version of the story has its darker moments too. In order to fit into that special slipper, the stepsisters actually cut off parts of their feet! This got me thinking about the lengths women (then and now) go to in order to find love.
In every classic Disney movie, there is a moment when the princess dreams of a better future, and this better future almost always involves a man. This is put rather succinctly in the song “Someday My Prince Will Come.” Snow White sings, “Some day my prince will come, Some day we’ll meet again, And away to his castle we’ll go, To be happy forever I know…And wedding bells will ring, Some day when my dreams come true.” In this Weaver’s Tale, we co-opt that idea. We have three heroines: Annabeth, Bianca, and Cinderella. Each girl lives a life with which she is dissatisified, and at the beginning of the production, each one shares with us a “Someday My Prince Will Come,” moment. In rehearsal, we improvised to discover what each girl was missing from her life and how to express that through movement. Then, as expected, a man comes along who magically fulfills each girl’s dream. Of course, our twist is that he is not a man at all, but a devil. Can a beautiful maiden find happily ever after with a devil? Will she still love him even after she’s watched him chop another girl into pieces? Does it matter if she still gets to hear wedding bells and live in the castle?
The music selected for this concert helps us explore the line between classic love story and macabre nightmare. The beautiful Beethoven Septet that begins the show is light, airy, and elegant. It easily leads our three heroines to follow their dreams and fall in love. As that love is twisted on its head, though, the music follows suit. We move into Elliot Carter’s “Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello and Harpsichord.” The harpsichord still gives the music the feeling of being something from “once upon a time,” but a time that is very frightening. It sets the stage perfectly for the mayhem and horror that the devil brings.
So once you’ve had your fill of Valentine’s Day ooey-gooey romance, head out to The Weaver’s Tale of Cinderella and the Devil. It’s ooey-gooey in a totally different way, though not entirely without romance. I never did quite outgrow it.