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 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.
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.
38 West 38th Street, 3rd floor
New York, N,Y, 10018
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
El Museo del Barrio: Fifth Avenue on Fire (Huffington Post)
Young Korean-American Hahn-Bin Wows Carnegie Hall In Debut Performance (Huffington Post)
New York Film Academy Focuses on Turkish Film (Daily Kos)