Fairy Tales 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Collision Course

This might be a little bit of a non-sequitur comment, however, what interests me is how the two pieces play with both what is known about fairy tales and also edits how it ends. Both are based on a very basic assumption that anyone reading the comic or viewing the play knows fairy tales, to some extent or another. Sondheim does provide an very, very basic overview that more or less lays out the plot of the play, not the plots of the fairy tales. There is this basic assumption that people know who the characters are, just by their names alone, and this is particularly the casein Willingham's Fables. This produces an interesting dynamic, for both "into the woods" and Fables, we know the character's back stories, we have a sense of what the arc of their stories should look like, and then both pieces undermine those original story lines. The major difference is that each fairy tale, as they are contained in the Grimm's work, is separate, unique, maybe with overlapping motifs, but there is never a temporal or spatial placement of the characters or events. Both these pieces assume that all the fairy tales happened in the same place at roughly the same time. Fables is a bit different, since there seems to be the implication that the fairy tales as we (or the creators) know them happened "once upon a time", but in both pieces there is this wild collision of multitudes of fairy tale characters that allows the creators to subvert, or just generally play with the original story lines in a serious manner, because the result is somewhat humorous, but at the same time you are watching lives of "real" people collide, not the lives of one-dimensional fairy tales. The advantage of the fairy tale is the fact that there is almost no need for the set up the characters, but there is plenty of room to explore the ins and outs of the characters. This is because we know the plot, we know the general arc of all the characters lives from our own readings of fairy tales, but there is simply not enough psychological development in fairy tales that authors who want to flesh out the characters have to contend with. The fun becomes how one interprets the characters, and what they actually make the characters into, and how that affects their interaction with the other characters.

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