Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Is that all there is?

“Happily Ever After?” events artfully study concept from all sides

Express Staff Writer

Artists Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz encased their study of fairy tale lore in glass, which is part of The Center’s “Happily Ever After?” exhibit now up in Ketchum. Courtesy photo

    Therapists spend hours talking women out of believing love and marriage are like the movies, where revelations are made while glancing out an airplane window and end with a reunion in the rain … waves … bathtub … whatever.
    Even through princesses are being portrayed as empowered forces, they still can be brought to their blush by a brash young lad.
    The Sun Valley Center for the Arts has dedicated its latest exhibit to “Happily Ever After?” and enjoined with other creative organizations to look at the image, from the printed word to the romanticized soundtracks and artists’ interpretations.
    From now until Nov. 30, there a multitude of ways to explore the art form that continues to enjoy a resurgence with stories being told from the darker side in movies like “Mirror Mirror” and “Snow White and the Huntsman” and television shows like “Once Upon a Time” and “Grimm.”
    In explaining the topic of choice, The Center offered in a press release that while often thought of as entertainment for children, fairy tales are among the darkest stories we tell. Wicked stepmothers abandon children deep in the forest. Babies are stolen by witches and imps. Cunning wolves impersonate helpless grandmothers. While some fairy tales have happy endings, others do not. The Matchstick Girl freezes to death, while the vain girl so enchanted with her Red Shoes loses both her feet before dying of a burst heart.
    Many classic fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen have roots in earlier stories, stories passed both orally and through the written word from generation to generation.
    We continue to tell these terrifying stories for the same reasons they have been told for centuries. They serve as cautionary tales, warning children of the consequences of immoral behavior and (perhaps especially) the perils of the natural world. The protagonist in “The Red Shoes” learns to regret her vanity. Sleeping Beauty’s evil stepmother dies of rage. Had Little Red Riding Hood listened to her mother and not spoken to the Wolf, she could have spared her grandmother the horror of being swallowed up whole.
    And poor Thumbelina, captured by frogs, engaged to a mole and finally saved by a bird.
    Rich with colorful characters, mysterious settings and wondrous events, fairy tales serve as warnings about the importance of appropriate behavior as well as the dangers that lurk in the forest. They occupy our imagination as young children; as we grow up, our understanding of them shifts and deepens.
    This project is an exploration of fairy tales’ roots, commonalities and hidden meanings.
    The exhibition features work by contemporary artists exploring the complex ideas behind storytelling and fairy tales. Some question or retell traditional cautionary tales. Others create work that draws on the fantastic imagery and powerful narrative that define the fairy tale, evoking classic stories without referring to them specifically.
    Artists with exhibits on display at the Ketchum site include Claire Cowie, Andrea Dezsö, Kent Henricksen, Erin Rachel Hudak, Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz, and Kiki Smith.
    And it doesn’t stop there. Company of Fools Core Company Artist Denise Simone is hosting a two-day workshop Saturday, Nov. 3, and Sunday, Nov. 4, at The Center’s Hailey site. “Happily Ever After Redo” will allow teens to create and write monologues from the perspective of a fairy tale character. Maybe the story ends happily ever after—and maybe it doesn’t. On day two, participants will refine and rehearse their monologues and then share them for an invited audience. The workshop will also include a chance to sit in on a rehearsal of an enchanted concert also named–“Happily Ever After?”–that will feature some of Broadway’s brightest stars and will be presented Friday, Nov. 9, and Saturday, Nov. 10. Pre-registration fee is $10.
    For more information on the workshop or exhibit, contact, call 726-9491, ext. 10 or stop by The Center in Ketchum.
    The concert will be held at 7 p.m. at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey on Nov. 9-10 and will include the music from some of Broadway’s favorite fairy tale-based musicals, including “Into the Woods,” “Cinderella,” “Once Upon a Mattress” and “The Little Mermaid.” This enchanted evening, directed by R.L. Rowsey and John Glenn, features several of Broadway’s most dynamic artists—Jana Arnold, Teri Bibb, John Mauldin, Andy Umberger and Garret Long.
    Adults and older teens are invited to join in a discussion of a writer called the “high sorceress” and “benevolent witch-queen” of English literature by no less than Salman Rushdie.
    Angela Carter was an English novelist known for her magical realist style. Teacher Ryan Waterfield will explore Carter’s classic book of short fiction, “The Bloody Chamber,” on Tuesday, Nov. 13, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
    The 10 stories in “The Bloody Chamber” are all based on fairy tales or folk tales. Waterfield has
taught this book at the Community School. This event will be held at The Center in Ketchum. Cost is $10 for Center members, $15 nonmembers.
    Fans of the “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” series by Daniel Handler will surely want to get their tickets for his presentation on Sunday, Nov. 18, at the Community Campus in Hailey. Tickets are $15 for Center members, $25 for nonmembers and $5 for students.
    Sarah Hedrick, of Iconoclast Books, who will be providing books for Handler’s post-presentation signing, collaborated with The Center to hold a fairy tale writing contest to give some kids a chance to win free tickets to see the author.
     Three age groups, 5-9, 10-13 and 14-18, will submit their stories and one winner from each age group will get to bring an adult to the Handler show for free. Three other kids, whose names and descriptions of why they love Lemony Snicket get drawn from a bowl that can be found at Iconoclast Books and Hailey’s Modern Mercantile. And libraries are hashing out details for contests as well.
    For more details, contact Hedrick at Iconoclast Books, 726-1564 or you local or school librarian.
    So it seems that one doesn’t really have to give up on a happy-ever-after after all.

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