Skip to main content

By Nancy Koan, edited by Jim Luce

Fairy tales are not just for children.  I’ve known that ever since I fell in love with the cartoon series Fractured Fairytales, a weird and completely neurotic take on the classics.  But real fairy tales have always had meaning for me.  

At university, I was one of three students studying Russian Fairy tales.  We are all drawn to fairy tales the way we are drawn to the fire.  Our psychic history is embedded in these stories.

For a period of time, I, like many feminists bristled at the idea of princesses being saved by handsome princes.  But Johannes Galli, a German philosopher, actor and playwright sees a much different lesson.

Galli, the creator of Galli Fairy Tale Theatre, believes stories cut to the core of the unconscious
Galli, the creator of Galli Fairy Tale Theatre, believes stories cut to the core of the unconscious.

Galli, the creator of Galli Fairy Tale Theatre, believes that the stories cut to the core of the unconscious and that children can learn important lessons about self-esteem and survival from watching them in play form as well as acting in them.

His theory is what brought me to a recent performance of Cinderella at the Galli Theatre.

At a reception lecture earlier in the week, he suggested that Cinderella is really the story of the lost mother and the need and search for that maternal protection.  I always thought it was about sibling rivalry.

Children sit on the floor in front of the stage.  When the stage manager asks if they know what they are going to see, one precocious five- year old yells out "Lucifer."  This gets a big laugh from the parents.

The cast is a mixture of adults and children.  The performance can be viewed on YouTube.

Cinderella herself is played by a beautiful young woman of Indian heritage, Nishi Rajan, small and dark, in contrast to her much taller, Nordic step sisters, humorously portrayed by Petra Meussel and Inga Joanimets.

Cinderella herself is played by a beautiful young woman of Indian heritage, Nishi Rajan.
Cinderella herself is played by a beautiful young woman of Indian heritage, Nishi Rajan.

Young Lydia Batten plays the third stepsister, too young to compete for the prince, but a fun addition to the family.

The story is told in the typical manner, except that instead of Cinderella asking for help from a godmother she turns to her hazel tree.  

The tree answers her prayers in the form of helpful magical doves bringing beautiful gowns to wear to the ball.  

The prayer motif was surprising and I wondered if I had actually heard the word "God."  But it’s enchantment that is in play – and simply being good brings its own rewards.

Mr. Galli has fairy tale theatres around the world, offering plays and classes for the young.  The New York theatre is under the helm of Dr. Tatjana Maya, a physician and educator.  

She and her staff visit children’s hospitals, orphanages, and crisis centers, using fairy tales to restore physical and mental health through the magical healing power the tales.  

See their website for more details and information on where contributions can be made to this worthwhile addition to our New York theatre scene.

Contact Information:
Galli Theater
38 West 38th Street, 3rd floor
New York, N,Y, 10018
Tel 212-731-0668

Editor’s Note: As a child, my father used to read to me The Jack Tales, including of course Jack and the Bean Stalk.  These were the German Grimm Brothers’ tales re-written by Richard Chase in the mountains of Virginia.  I can attest to the magic of these stories as I spent years reading them, in my father’s voice, to my own son.  One day he will do the same with his child.  May such voices remain eternal (blog).

Other Stories Written or Edited by Jim Luce about Culture in New York City

How a Play is Born in NYC: Playsmiths Bring Drama to the World(Daily Kos)

Quarterly Arts Soiree’s Salon - At Webster Hall in NYC(Daily Kos)

Mayer Morissette: From R & B to Zouk -- in Creole -- at Nirvana(Daily Kos)

Review 79 (Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and His Legacy) Launched at the Americas Society (Daily Kos)

El Museo del Barrio: Fifth Avenue on Fire (Huffington Post)

Voces y Visiones: Four Decades of El Museo del Barrio’s Permanent Collection (Daily Kos)

Young Korean-American Hahn-Bin Wows Carnegie Hall In Debut Performance (Huffington Post)

New York Film Academy Focuses on Turkish Film (Daily Kos)

Originally posted to Thought Leaders & Global Citizens on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 04:30 PM PST.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    My web sites:,,,,,

    by jimluce on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 04:30:33 PM PST

  •  As a fan of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dkistner, denise b, cfk, millwood, tardis10

    ... and someone who does work with dreams, hypnosis, and other unconscious-using techniques ... I share the fascination.

    I recently visited Germany again, walking around the Black Forest and other forest areas, and it always amazes me how you can really feel, almost tangibly, that all of German culture (and I assume other European cultures) grew out of those dark mysterious forests.

  •  Thank you...very interesting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My six year old Haitian grandson enjoyed watching the musical of Cinderella staring Brandy as Cinderella, Whitney Houston as the fairy godmother and Whoopi Goldberg as the prince's mother.

    His sister from the US who is only two was more interested in the pumpkin turning into a coach, but she watched almost the whole thing.

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 04:54:08 PM PST

    •  You know, I just have to wonder ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If the name of the girl who cleaned out the cinders from the fireplace was "Cinderella", what was the name of the girl who cleaned out the stables?  

      You never hear her story!

  •  Lived my life in Fairy Tale limbo. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    niemann, marina, cfk, bmcphail

    Not to put too fine a point on it, my stepmother was crazy.
    And there were no other kids around.  Think I read every fairy tale written in books from Andrew Lang to Oscar Wilde to the collections of the Bros. Grimm.  Favorite was Anderson.  The way I see the world is based in those tales from "The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf" to "The Angel."
    Though the tales are often very dark, they are also transcendent.
    Wasn't Cinderella based on the older tale of "The Little Nut Tree?"
    The older, deeper tales have been replaced by the Disney versions with the same saccharine repetitive characters year after year.  
    Wonder how today's children will turn out? If life were simple we wouldn't need our stories at all.
    Am Jung fan, too.

    •  Crazy stepmother? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Maybe, but was she Wicked?

      Did she make you clean out the fireplace on your hands and knees while spending your rightful inheritance on her ignorant, flippant, spiteful daughters?

      Was she actually a sorceress in disguise, who tried to poison your food and drink, so that her son could usurp your right to the throne?

      Did she fall under a curse so that toads leaped from her mouth every time she opened it to talk?

      Disclaimer: The above remarks are intended as humor and are not meant to disparage healthy and happy stepfamilial relations, which I sincerely hope are the normal state of affairs.

    •  Do you know George MacDonald too? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AbsurdEyes, cfk

      Favorite was Anderson.  The way I see the world is based in those tales from "The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf" to "The Angel."

      I love Hans Christian Andersen too.  Boy, talk about dark ...  Some of his short stories, like "The Shadow" and "The Story of a Mother" (I believe that's the title) are almost Kafka-esque.

      I think Andersen was influenced by -- or was of the same school as -- the same Germanic fantasy writers who strongly influenced George MacDonald in his adult fairy tale novels Phantastes, Lilith, and so on -- Hoffman, Novalis, etc.  Great stuff, those.

      The way you describe seeing the world reminded me of MacDonald, of whom it was said that he really saw the world as a fairy tale, with the ordinary people he met really being princesses, trolls, etc. in disguise.  I can relate.

      I'm actually a fan of Disney, and the fairy tale films he did actually had some very dark, scary moments too.  Snow White and Pinocchio can still creep me out.  It's only later on, after his death, that they became offensively "safe" and formula.

      •  I like the old Disney, too. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It's a shame that so many tales were oversimplified and will never be known by people who don't read.
        The Jungle Book comes to mind as the most egregious example.

        •  Yes, I'm mixed about this. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I like the films, as they are, but also regret that more people don't read the originals.

          But on the other hand, I guess people who wouldn't read the originals wouldn't read them in any case, even if there weren't Disney films.  They just wouldn't read them at all.  

          And at least the films keep the stories in people's awareness and can point people to the originals.  I can attest to this because in just the last year I read The One Hundred and One Dalmatians, by Dodie Smith, and have Bambi and The Jungle Book on my stack to get to.  If not for Disney, I wouldn't have even known those books existed, and they might have gone out-of-print long ago.  It was also Disney that started my love for the original Winnie-the-Pooh and The Wind in the Willows when I was little.

          As a big Lewis Carroll fan, I'm hoping the new Tim Burton movie pushes more kids toward the original in the same way.

          (And another George MacDonald shout-out:  If it hadn't been for MacDonald, we would have no Alice at all today, for Lewis Carroll lent the manuscript to MacDonald's family, and his children all insisted that it should be published.)

      •  Thanks about MacDonald. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        niemann, AbsurdEyes

        Love that mannered kind of writing. (Scots changed the world.)

  •  I took a short course on fairy tales (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    niemann, AbsurdEyes, cfk

    The prof. said that fairy tales often have characters who represent two sides of a person. Usually it's your civilized nature vs. your animal nature. Part of growing up is finding a stable balance between these two instincts. So, for example, a fairy tale may involve a brother and a sister, the brother is turned into a fox and the sister must break the enchantment. Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Rumplestilkskin, etc. all can be viewed as allegories of becoming a whole person by overcoming adversity.

    In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

    by Lefty Mama on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 05:47:25 PM PST

  •  If you read the original fairy tales, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    niemann, AbsurdEyes

    and not the "cleaned-up" versions most of us know, there is an entirely different aspect to them. For example, in the original Cinderella, the story ends with the wedding reception, where the stepmother and the 2 stepsisters are forced to dance all night in red-hot lead slippers until they die of exhaustion as punishment for their treatment of Cinderella.

    "Truth never damages a cause that is just."~~~Mohandas K. Gandhi -9.38/-6.26

    by LynneK on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 05:51:43 PM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site