Wake Up Sleeping Beauty Revises the Fairy Tale

Centaur Theatre. Photo Rachel Levine. Centaur Theatre. Photo Rachel Levine.

As part of its Saturday morning children’s series, Centaur Theatre presents ‘Wake up Sleeping Beauty’ which is an exploration of the classic fairy tale. I had the opportunity to speak to the artists behind the production. Here’s an excerpt from our interview.

Sinj Karan (SK): Can you introduce Live Action Theatre to us and tell us what made you choose “Sleeping Beauty” for a tale to adapt?

Rosaruby Kagan/Julia Ainsworth (RK/JA): The Live Theatre Action Project (LTAP) is a collective lead by Rosaruby Kagan and Julia Ainsworth. For the past two years we have been exploring approaches to co-constructing story and experimenting with the relationship between the audience and performers. Our work is inspired by forum theatre, choose your own adventure storytelling and video game culture. We like to challenge audiences to actively participate in plot and character development within the performance. Our performance platform combines both scripted and improvisational components. We have done two previous workshop productions that dealt with adult material and found that it was great venue for eliciting conversation on important topics. We wanted to bring this format to kids as well.

We chose Sleeping Beauty because there is nothing more passive than a main character sleeping and waiting to be rescued. We wanted to play with changing those stereotypical gender roles and allowing kids to make the choice in how to change that story.

SK: Can you tell us a little about the Children’s Theatre project and how you got involved with it? Have you worked with children’s theatre before? I assume there is an educative aspect to it, so does that impact the creative process in any way?

RK/JA: The Saturday morning Children Theatre Series is an annual adjunct part if the Centaur’s programming, reaching young audiences. We were happy to be invited by the lovely Vanessa Rigaux (who curates the series) to create a show for it.

From the very start of our collective and also in creating this performance we both drew on our backgrounds, Julia in theatre education and Rosaruby in Drama Therapy. The story platform itself is meant to intimately engage people with the story. We are activating the link between action and consequence, which is definitely educational. You can see the consequences of your choices played out by the characters. It makes people think for themselves about what they want to see and why and what that means for their own life. For this show we are giving people/kids the choice between a traditional story line or an unconventional one. They choose.

SK: What flexibility/freedoms do you allow yourselves as artists when working on a classic like Sleeping Beauty?

RK/JA: As much flexibility as we want! Having those traditional characters and story lines are really fun to mess and play with. It is sleeping beauty re-mixed. Come out to the show and see <img decoding=” src=”http://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/72×72/263a.png” scale=”0″>.

SK: What’s been your experience of working with Centaur?

RK/JA: We both greatly respect the major role that the Centaur plays in the Montreal English theatre community and are very happy to be able to reach a broader audience through this production.

SK: Can you share any personal resonances that you have had with the story? Do you remember reading it as a young person and how did you respond to it then? Was it different for you, now that you have grown up?

RK: As a little girl I loved how the fairy characters in the original cartoon were so silly and clumsy – I personally was never really interested in the love story aspect of fairy tales. I always was much more drawn to the evil witches and the funny characters. I think I still feel this way and this comes out in this show.

JA: I have never been into princesses. I felt especially disconnected with the sleeping beauty princess. I always though, what is her problem.. she is just sleeping through the whole story. She is boring. Although personally on the flip side- I am not a morning person and I do enjoy a proper sleep in.

Wake Up Sleeping Beauty is at the Centaur Theatre (453 St. François Xavier) on Saturday November 28 at 10:30 a.m. Show recommended for ages 7 and up. For a full list of Children’s Theatre programming at the Centaur Theatre, click HERE. $8 adults/$6 kids.