me cutting

Original photo by Andrew Valkenburg. Signature montage / still frame animation from my basic palette for theatre.

The Universal Fairytale is a storytelling project.

There is nothing original about it because it is a simple storytelling project which travels the well worn paths of any fairytale.  It’s a book, theatre, video and ultimately an addition to the world of role-playing – 21st-century style.  If there were anything new or innovative about the project it would probably ruin the fairytale’s ability to tell itself and become real in our imaginings.

Just as Theseus eventually become the Minotaur, I’ve seen the white rat slowly emerging from behind the mirror these years I’ve been working on my 7 adaptations of Henri Pourrat’s fairytale, La Rate Blanche. Before it was mine, it was clustered together within the flora and fauna of Henri Pourrat’s afternoon walks through his native Auvergne which are memorialized it within  Le Trésor Des Contes Tome I, (Gallimard, 1948).  It’s said that La Rate Blanche has been told throughout the region since The Middle Ages and I believe that it is a story for all ages which transcends culture and language.

In a world without borders there is a race for defining ourselves in ways which will not be swept away as we exchange currency and ideas across transnational borders.  On the plane from America to Europe, 13 years ago I made a statement about myself:

“We create ourselves as individuals in isolation.  We come together as groups to see what that means”

It’s a statement which sums up a lot of things but most importantly, the necessity to know where we come from and that it needs to be understood and maintained no matter where the paths of our lives lead us.  By knowing ourselves, we develop the strengths necessary to defend our precious identities as we mix with the outside world.  The Universal Fairytale is a simple platform for mutually dismantling the primary aspects of identity and culture through storytelling and reassembling the pieces in newly configured constructs – if we chose to.   How and why we are the ways we are is a question anyone should be able to answer although few know how.  To help you define who you are I’ve broken down the elements of identity into some Lego building blocks which teach the storyteller in you how to hear what the other narrators are saying with their images and references.

A better understanding of ourselves is the key to knowing others.

By firmly adhering to a strict retelling of La Rate Blanche, it becomes a map which guides the audience through the culture of the retelling. Through “the art of the account”, cultural variations allow us to dialogue within families and countries that might otherwise have their individuality overlooked as we can easily be called: American, Latin, European, Asian, African, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Agnostic, etc.  Yes, we all have our basic points of departure but what defines us are the details.