After a long summer we are finally back to continue the course at Trent. This year we have a lost going on including the idea of going on a placement, alongside multiple design projects. This term we have been asked to consider children’s plays and how design can help to engage the children with the content.
The two specific plays that we are looking at are; ‘Red Red Shoes’ by Charles Way, and ‘The Ash Girl’ by Timberlake Wertenbaker. The Idea being that we either create a speculative design scheme for either of the plays, or devise and perform a short version of Red Red shoes to local school children.
Red Red Shoes:
This play is a take on ‘The Red Shoes’ by Hans Christian Anderson. The play tells a story of a young girl named Franvera, who lives to dance. On her birthday she is given a pair of red dancing shoes to aid her dream of dancing for her country. she is unaware of the turmoil that is to unfold around her. Her village is to be ransacked and anyone who was not born in the country was to be forced out. The women, children and elderly marched across the border as the men where killed within. Franvera escapes, but is left by her mother who goes back after her father. She crosses the border with other townsfolk to face more issues.
It is important to note that the play is designed to be unfolding within Franveras mind. It is disjointed and imaginitive.
The story is one of ethnic cleansing and refugees that occur so much in our society, however Way has managed to turn it into a fairy tale; arguably making it more accessible to a younger audience.
The Ash Girl:
This play is based around the famous fairytale; ‘Cinderella. Ash Girl is the main character who lives with her step mother and two step sisters. Unlike the tale of ‘Cinderella’ Ash Girl’s step mother is not a nasty one, she does not make Ash Girl stay home from the ball or spend all her time cleaning; Ash Girl decides to do this for herself.
Within this story The Prince is Indian, and has just moved to this cold foreign land to escape the turmoil of his own. The Princes mother then holds a ball to find Prince Amir a wife, and route him to this new country. The story unfolds much like Cinderella with Ash Girls step family attending, and the fairy paying a visit. Ash Girl attends and dances, leaves her shoe etc. Much like the Grimms tale the Step Mother mutilates her daughters feet to make them fit the shoe. Amir sees through this, finds Ash Girl and the story finishes with them together.
One of the main differences between ‘Ash Girl’ and ‘Cinderella’ is that Ash Girl is more about self discovery. The fairy in the mirror cannot help Ash Girl without her defeating sadness and believing that she is pretty etc. Timberlake has also incorporated the idea of the 7 deadly sins into the play, through the parts of woodland animals, this explores the idea that we all have demons that we need to defeat in order to be happy and grounded.