The 62nd Bonstelle Theatre season continues this December with an imaginative retelling of the classic fairy tale The Snow Queen, by Hans C. Andersen,adapted by Tyler Monroe. The WSU production will be directed by guest artist Allegra Libonati of the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA. We took a moment to get a closer look at this upcoming show with Allegra. Here’s what she had to say:
Q:Have you directed The Snow Queen before? If so, what has drawn you to direct it again?
A: I directed The Snow Queen at the American Repertory Theater last winter. I adapted the show from the fairy tale with the playwright, Tyler Monroe. There are many elements of The Snow Queen that I found deeply compelling. I was drawn to the incredible landscapes where the story takes place. We travel from a tiny rose garden, all the way to the snow queen palace at the North Pole, surrounded by the Northern Lights. This captured my imagination. I was also really moved by Hans Christian Andersen’s life story. He was told by his mother, after his father died, that the Snow Queen had taken his father away. Later in his life, he created a story of two best friends who are separated by The Snow Queen. We watch as little Gerda, through her blind faith and deep devotion, is able to find Kai at the end of the earth, and save his life. I think there is a deep message in this show, embedded in a fantastical and spectacular world.
The show also provided excellent opportunities for creative production and physical theater. Animals, natural elements, and forces of nature all need to be brought to life on stage. I found all this very exciting.
Q:What is your vision for this particular production?
A: My vision for this production was inspired by the experience of listening to a story, and allowing it to transform the world around you. The show begins in a magical attic where a group of children have gathered to hear a story. As the story unfolds, beds become snow drifts, sheets become blizzards, a wagon becomes the boat. The world around you transforms into the locations and characters of the story. The audience is integral to the show. When you arrive, you create a paper rose and a snow flake, and are asked to help Gerda along the way using these elements.
Q:What were some of the challenges in directing this play?
A: This is an ensemble-based show, which is always both rewarding and challenging. We have an enormous Snow Queen puppet that takes multiple performers to bring to life. We are extending the Snow Queen for this production to include six further performers, creating the swirling snow around her with poles and fabric. This playful and theatrical style of storytelling makes for incredibly sensitive work. Every actor has to be entirely aware of each other, generous, engaged, and focused on the same goal. It takes tremendous energy, but also creates the shifting and transforming world of the show and the power of the characters. By the time you see the show, you won’t see any of the effort, but just be able to get caught up in the illusion and magic an ensemble of actors can create.
Q:What would you like children and families to take away from this production?
A: I would love children and families to have a wonderful theatrical experience together. It is an adventure story where you watch Gerda take on the Snow Queen, to save her loved friend. It is a show where you can bring family members of all ages and everyone can take away a part of the story. If they can all be swept away in this fairytale, go on a journey together, and be inspired by the strength of a little girl alone in the North Pole, that would be a wonderful thing.
The Bonstelle Theatre will open The Snow Queen, just in time for the holiday season. It runs from November 30 to December 9, 2012, and children get a special ticket price of only $6. This classic children’s fairytale is a holiday treat, and the Bonstelle Theatre’s production will include a preshow craft activity with cast members for children starting 45 minutes prior to curtain time. Paper roses and snowflakes will be made in the upstairs lobby and used by children in the audience to interact with the show.
Click HERE to check out the Facebook event.