Once Upon a Time…
By Paula Denault
… there was a group of people that dreamt of bringing stories to life in the great outdoors. They struggled, they toiled, they scrimped, they saved, they laughed and they cried. They met giants that had to be slayed and ogres that had to be defeated. Eventually their dreams were realized, and Acting Out Theatre Co. was born. They began creating beautiful stories in magical settings for all to hear. As people heard of their heroic courage, they came in droves to support their cause and to hear their stories! They waited in anticipation for the next story to come. And, alas, another story is about to unfold.
Anticipation is building! The day of auditions for Beauty and the Beast will soon be upon us. From the day this show was announced there has been a palpable energy in the air: from the staff, to the possible cast members, to the future audience. It’s so exciting!
This observation got me to wondering about Fairy Tales. Let me first make clear that I am not talking about many of the older versions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which were created for adult audiences. I’m talking about the most common Fairy Tales of our day that end with a “happily ever after.” What is it about a Fairy Tale that is so endearing? Aren’t we supposed to stop believing in Fairy Tales after a certain age? Aren’t we supposed to stop teaching our children, especially our girls, that there is no knight in shining armor that will carry them away to a happily ever after life? We want to be prepared for the hard knocks in life, after all. We want to prepare kids to stand on their own two feet and not wish for some magic solution to their problem. So why do we all love a fairy tale?
First of all, I think we love fairy tales because they speak to the familiar. It’s kind of like coming home after a long, hard day at work and watching reruns of “Friends.” It’s a story we already know, and even if we aren’t familiar with that particular fairy tale, we inherently have an understanding of the story. We can exhale and feel at home.
We love fairy tales because it is a place where good triumphs over evil. Even when the odds seem overwhelming, the unexpected can happen. Ordinary people will rise to fight, and the evil one will be defeated. Who, in this life, has not had to slay a few dragons? Our children will learn that though life may have its challenges, they can overcome. It sends young and old a message of much-needed hope.
Fairy tales teach us lessons: lessons of truth, courage, hard work, justice, sacrifice, honor, and unconditional love. We learn lessons that transcend boundaries. We are reminded that though we are different, we are the same. That “family” is not just by birth-right. We learn that looks are deceiving, and we need to discover what’s beneath. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Love covers a multitude of flaws. Love can transform the unlovable.
Fairy Tales are meant to be told and retold. They have a message for young and old. Acting Out is privileged to gather a few of the many talented people in our area, and retell a tale as old as time: Beauty and the Beast. Please, come share in our Fairy Tale!