Saturday, September 17, 2016

Theater: "The Handless Maiden" by Art House Productions

"Follow me down to the old stone mill, where the river has forgotten how to run..."

A dark, immersive fairy tale

Looks like immersive theater is the new trend!

This new theatrical version of Grimm's The Handless Maiden takes the audience throughout a theater which is, we assume, filled with the sets you can see in this post. The stage is set in Jersey City, NJ and it is recommended that this production is not for children under 13. The environment may be too creepy for sensitive or young children, violence is implied (per the title and tale source) and there is one non-graphic sexual situation.

Here's the press release:
The spooky stage is set for Art House Productions' immersive, Brothers Grimm-inspired play.  
"The Handless Maiden" is the non-profit's main stage production. The 50 minute play takes a feminist twist on the the German fairy tale. In the original production, a young maiden flees into the woods after an evil force descends on her village.  
Playgoers will follow the seven-person cast throughout the theater while the production is underway. 
Art House posted a mini-interview about the show's inspiration and experience on their Facebook page, which I have re-posted below:
Art House had a conversation with one of our show's creators, Shayfer James, to talk about the upcoming production of THE HANDLESS MAIDEN: 
- What is the inspiration behind this play?
Director Mason Beggs and I have wanted to create something together from the ground up since meeting last year. We are both fascinated with Grimm's fairy tales and Mason suggested we start there. Our desire was to retell an old story in our shared creative language through original music and movement without using any dialogue. One of the most exciting things for me is that the piece was literally created from root to leaf in only two months. I'm a big advocate for capturing art spontaneously and from the gut. With a creative team like the one involved in this, that process has been fun, seamless, and incredibly rewarding. I must mention also that the lighting design by Lance Michel and set design by Andrea McKenna are absolutely stunning.
- Why "The Handless Maiden"?
The fairy tale on which the piece is based, "The Maiden Without Hands" is rather obscure, which offered us a lot of freedom to re-imagine the story. It is important to us that the main female character has a strong arc that isn't dependent on "damsel in distress" nonsense. This story in particular gave us the opportunity to make that happen. Not to get too serious here, but for me "happily ever after" is a phrase that has done more damage than good through the ages, especially in regard to gender roles. It's also one of the darker tales. It really digs into horror a bit, which I love.
- What can one expect from this "immersive" experience? What does that mean?
You can expect to be absorbed into a beautifully twisted world and become part of the story as it unfolds. It's a world of magic and horror, and beauty.

Shows are scheduled for Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, today (September 15th) through Sept. 24, at 8 p.m. An afternoon showing will be on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 4 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased in advance for $18 on Art House's website or at the door for $20.  

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