Monday, February 16, 2015

Storytelling in other forms or... "I went to Disneyland!"

Last Saturday was my son's 30th birthday... yes, he was born on Valentine's Day and no, it wasn't planned. But it was a happy accident that we've been amused by over the years.

Since this birthday number was fairly significant, a bigger than usual celebration was needed so he opted to go to Disneyland. This is one of my favorite places so we all went, hubby and I driving down from the Bay Area to do so. We went on our favorite rides, sometimes more than once, and saw a show or two, and generally enjoyed being together and the way Disney tells a story. It is all about story there, just as it is in our writing.

Everything about the park is about story telling. Most attractions tell some kind of story, be it the pirates looking for Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, or that sinister bride with her sequence of beheaded husbands in Haunted Mansion. They even had big signs on temporary walls hiding construction that told of how Walt Disney had planned out the attraction being modified... which was odd but kind of cool.

One of the better examples of story telling was this little stage show at the Royal Theatre. For those who haven't seen this, the Royal Theatre is relatively new and is a part of Fantasyland, sitting next to the castle on the hub. Several times a day they have a short 30 to 40 minute live show featuring the story of one of the Disney princesses. I've seen them do Tangled and Beauty and the Beast in the past. This time they were doing Frozen.

The cast consists of a piano player who performs the music, a pair of comic song-and-dance men, Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones, and the princess whose story is being told. In the case of Frozen we had Queen Ilsa and Princess Anna. The princesses play themselves, Smythe and Jones do all the other characters, and there are four "damsels" dressed in medieval costumes who move stuff in and out, do props, chime in on the singing, and also work the crowd in the beginning to get the audience ready to participate, particularly the little kids sitting on large rugs in the very front, yelling huzzah or hissing the villian. If you've ever been to a show at a Renaissance Faire then this will be very familiar. Lots of interaction with the audience and participation is welcome. They even did a sing-along with the "Let it Go" song.

And that is the brilliance of it. This is a wonderful way to introduce theatre to young children. Most already know the story, they are enthralled with seeing the "real" princesses in person, and the two gentlemen are so funny with the way they shrink a 90 minute plot into a thirty minute time slot.

It was great fun and now I feel inspired to get back to finishing one of my new stories. After all, that is what a story-teller does, tell stories.

Janet Miller

1 comment:

Rolynn Anderson said...

Thanks for the post, Janet. In this day and age of video games, it's great to hear that street theatre still has appeal. I'm thinking that the young people presenting are being stretched as well to involve their audience. I love Disneyland for all the things you do.