Friday, February 21, 2014

A New Twist For the Timeless English Fairy Tale: "Jack and the Giant Beanstalk"

Mercy Vasquez believes that young playgoers are often smarter than the plays written for them.

Vasquez, who directs the upcoming Junior Players production of Jack and the Giant Beanstalk, chose the script by Linda Daugherty because it doesn’t waste time with explanation.

“I don’t like playing down to children or using a narrator to to provide clarity.  Our script begins with an exciting moment, and we burst right into the action without having to explain what’s about to happen.”

The action in this case is a shipwreck.  In a clever twist on the old English fairy tale, Jack’s father is a swashbuckling, black-eyed sea captain, whose ship is—persumably—lost in a storm.  According to Vasquez, meeting Jack’s father in the beginning opens a window into the adventurous spirit that Jack’s character embodies.

No longer only a fairy tale, Jack and the Giant Beanstalk is now a coming of age story about a boy stepping into the role of father in order to become a man and support his mother.

“Jack wants to emulate his father who, for the most part, exists only in his fertile imagination, says Vasquez.  “In this way, he keeps the sea captain alive, for himself—and for his mother, who is neither crude nor ignorant as some versions of the story suggest.  In fact, she’s a woman of dignity and grace, who came from affluence and was swept away by the handsome ship’s captain.”

For all his promise, Jack is not yet so grown up that he makes wise decisions that change the story’s plot.  He still trades the old family cow for a handful of beans, still climbs the resulting beanstalk and encounters the giant’s (nervous) Wife, the (aggravated) Chicken and the (uncooperative) Guitar.

And, of course, there’s one more character, missing from other versions—a black-eyed man held captive by the Giant, whose identity the kids in the audience will pick up on—without any help from a narrator.

Learn more and buy tickets.

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