Fairy Tales are Everywhere

As I mentioned earlier, when Jesse and I first started looking at using these exciting new fairy tales for our traveling puppet show project we got a little bit stuck because most of them were only available in German – which neither of us speak. Some very kind friends and family helped us out with the translations, but while we were waiting we decided to spend some time researching the idea of Fairy Tales in general. Where do they come from, what was their original purpose, and what role do they play in our contemporary world?

Well, not surprisingly, although we’ve come across many interesting theories and ideas, there aren’t really any definitive answers to those questions. One thing that we can say for certain though, is that fairy tales are certainly present in modern culture – once you start looking for them you find them everywhere! I’ve found references in songs, novels, news stories, tv shows, blog posts, podcasts…

fairy tale forest

One of my favourite finds has been this series of photographs by landscape photographer Kilian Schönberger. He captures the mood of 19th century fairytales in photos of German forests that somehow manage to feel both sinister and enchanting.

For any of you who are interested in jumping down the rabbit-hole of fairy tale research with us, here are a few more links to get you started:

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Ornamentation and pattern will play a big part in our puppet theatre design. Beauty is not dead! I’ve been playing with a pattern taken from a 1850s Bavarian garment, pictured below right. I love translating the 160 year old pattern through my pen because it feels akin to learning a story… Where are its twists and turns? Which elements appear, and what are their relationships to one another? What gets lost if I begin to improvise and stray from the original? Then there is the matter of medium: making my loose digital sketch is an utterly different experience than making an embroidery. Similarly, our performance will be in the medium of puppetry while the stories were recorded as a part of a shared oral literature–seeing our show will surely be different than hearing the stories by the fireside, perhaps for the 10th time! There is a lot to be learned by imagining, remembering, and investigating this gap, I think.

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The Schönwerth Collection

Erika Eichenseer discusses her discovery of the Schönwerth archive in the video below. Skip to 58:00 for her description of a dramatic scene from a fairytale puppet show she made with a group of children!

The Flying Box Theatre was encouraged by Erika’s obvious interest in puppet adaptations of the Schönwerth fairytales, and sure enough when we reached out to her we had a warm response. Hopefully we’ll get to fly over to Germany one day and show her our work!

Erika and her husband Adolf were among the founders of The Schönwerth Institute, created in 2009 to promote Schönwerth’s work and manage his estate. Her collection Prinz Roßzwifl und andere Märchen is our main source of material.

Designing our Flying Box

When Jesse and I first started talking about creating a puppet show from the exciting new fairy tales she had found, one of our first considerations was “what kind of puppets and what kind of stage will best fit these stories?” In the beginning it was a bit of a guessing game, as we only had access to three stories that had been published on the web in English. But we knew for sure that we wanted the theatre to be sturdy, beautiful and most of all PORTABLE. Our goal is to be able to perform these stories anywhere and everywhere, at festivals, in parks, schools, community centers, maybe even in the metro or on the street.

So, last January, while I had a little bit of time between other jobs, I sat down with Google Sketchup and started dreaming about a theatre in a park. Here’s what I ended up with:

Puppet Theatre Design

Of course, it’s easy to build a virtual stage – a bit harder to make it a reality! We started out making a “junk” version out of cardboard and found materials, in order to make sure that the dimensions would be right for our puppets. We’re incorporating these refinements into our revised designs, and with a little bit of help we will soon be well on our way to building the portable stage we’ve been dreaming of!

Help bring The Schönwerth Tales to life

Contribute to our August 2014 Stage-raiser!
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Goal: $ 1200.00 CAN
What’s it For? Materials and labour to construct this puppet theatre
Fundraising Deadline: September 1st 2014

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Are you as excited as we are about hearing untold Bavarian fairy tales, never before disney-fied? Do you want to support our explorations in puppetry and storytelling? Do you have a dollar in your pocket?

We are fundraising to build our beautiful, portable, FLYING BOX STAGE! Yes, the all-important frame and home to our work has been living in our minds for almost a year now, and we are ready to make it a reality. We’re working with a master set builder to create detailed construction plans, and we will begin building in early September. We’ve dreamed and planned, built models and rebuilt models, and in order to create a sturdy, functional stage we are asking for your help.

To purchase materials and fairly compensate a skilled builder, we will have to raise $1200. That’s not so bad! With a few dollars from you, we can build a long lasting, versatile puppet theatre to entertain and engage audiences for years to come. Every little bit helps and every single contributor will have their name painted on to the Flying Box Stage. All contributions above $5 will receive:

  • YOUR NAME painted on to the Flying Box Stage
  • A personalized audio recording of our favorite Schönwerth Tale.
  • An original lino-cut print
  • An invitation to an open rehearsal in Mid October – date & time TBA
  • An invitation to the full-length premiere in Late November – date & time TBA

Donate to our August 2014 Stage-raiser via co-founder Jesse Orr. Don’t wait, click the Pay pal button below!

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Coming in late August: Flying Box BBQ fundraiser with sneak-peak preview!!