A sold out audience, consisting mostly of elementary school aged children, was treated to an artistically reimagined version of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale on the weekend.
Written by Amaranta Leyva and co-directed by Lourdes Pérez Gray and Kim Selody, the collaboration between Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver and Mexico’s Marionetas de la Esquina features five exquisite Mexican marionettes in starring roles, with two humans, Randi Edmundson (Mother, Princess and Fairy Godmother) and Brent Hirose (Dad, Frog and Mateo) as supporting cast. Puppeteers Tim Gosley, Linda A, Carson and Shizuka Kai round out the ensemble.
The set design is simple and effective, enhanced by occasional projections of leaves, birds and other timely effects. The fairy tale itself is sometimes narrated by the parents (who disagree about the details) and sometimes by the marionettes. During many scenes, there are two puppeteers manipulating each marionette, a primary puppeteer responsible for the head and a second person working the hands and feet. They glide almost invisibly behind the marionettes as they advance the action.
The story begins with a queen who is unable to have children and a magic frog who grants her wish for motherhood in exchange for a promise that he can be the child’s godparent. The queen does not keep her promise and the frog vows that the baby will meet with disaster. Terrified of possible misfortune, the child, called Princess, is kept sheltered in the castle, and warned about the dragon lurking just outside.
At the same time, one of the employees at the castle has a son, Mateo, who is very lonely because his mother works long hours and he is left alone. He wants to accompany his mother to the castle, but is not allowed to because, according to his mother, there is a dragon inside the castle which would do him harm.
The two children eventually meet, confront their personal fearful dragons and emerge as strong people ready to embrace what the big world has to offer. Sleeping Beauty Dreams speaks both to children and their parents about the importance of intelligent risk taking and the power of confronting fears. Interwoven in a beautifully performed puppet show, it is an easy message to hear.
Sleeping Beauty Dreams plays from January 26 – February 4, 2018 at the Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver.
Article: Judy Robb
Photos: Emily Cooper