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24 september 2021

Critique of the play SLEEPING BEAUTY

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Critique of the play SLEEPING BEAUTY

Sleeping Beauty, an awakened teenager

author: Divna Stojanov

The puppet show, by director Jakub Vašíček and playwright Tomáš Jarkovský, Sleeping Beauty is a dramatization of the homonymous fairy tale staged at the DRAK Theater, Czech Republic. Unlike other stagings of this famous fairy tale, first written by Giambattista Basile in 1634 under the title Sun, Moon and Talia, the Czech version is based on the theory of psychologist Bruno Bettelheim that the story of the princess and her centennial dream should be interpreted as the story of entering the puberty.

An American psychologist of Austrian descent interpreted the princess's blood from the sting on a thorn as the teenager's first menstrual blood; he presented the fence around the castle, which was then erected by the king, as the protector father to his adolescent daughter, and he wrote many other parables in his book The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. Apart from the fact that the name of the psychologist is mentioned in the poster and that it was written he significantly influenced the director's concept, no other influence of this psycho-analytical theory can be seen on the scene. Why the authors insisted on that is not clear even after the performance.

But, both with and without a psychological review, Sleeping Beauty caused laughter, told a story and enchanted us with scenography and puppets (Tereza Vašičkova). With the lighting of the first spotlights, the girl from the audience exclaimed loudly: well, this will be a beautiful show. And she was absolutely right! In the middle of the stage was a castle that spun, opening its doors, windows and allowing us to peek into the rooms. Wooden puppets in royal uniforms walked lithely, dug tunnels, lit matches, fell from the top of the castle, climbed, fired cannons, danced, sang, played hide-and-seek, hugged... (Pavla Lustyková, Jan Popela, Milan Žďárský, Jan Čipčala, Petr Seiner, Pavel Černík)

Another level of excitement of the show was created by musicians (music by Daniel Čamski), a drummer and a violinist placed to the right and left of the castle, producing live foil effects and playing background music. At the top of the castle, a small canvas was placed on which scenes were projected - a celebration of the Princess's birthday, the Prince's entry into the castle and a kiss of awakening. This solution is justified due to the need to show the events in close-up. In the first scene, the actors were puppets, and in the second puppeteers. The appearance of people near the end of the puppet show did not confuse the audience. Where the puppets stopped, the actor in the video continued.

The play is a good example of how with original scenography, thoughtful directing, knowledgeable and skilful acting, even a well-known and often set fairy tale can be staged, and surely it would be even more interesting for older children if Bethelheim's ideas could actually be recognized.

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Subotica International Festival of Children's Theatres