Happily Ever After by Action Transport Theatre: an article for children (5+) by Northern Soul’s Cathy Crabb
When you make a story up there are no rules at all – you can write whatever you want.
If you want to make believe that a dish ran away with a spoon you can. You can have toys that talk and houses that fly. And in fairy stories princesses fall in love with frogs and princes fall in love with poor girls in carriages made out of pumpkins. But there is a kind of story that we didn’t get to hear about when I was a little girl. And that is a story about a girl falling in love with a girl or a boy falling in love with a boy. Even though that actually happens in real life all the time. And it happens a lot more than frogs turning into princes does!
But there is now a play called Happily Ever After. This is a story about a boy who likes a boy and has been adapted from the book King & King by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland. It is a play for anyone who loves stories, and you can watch it whether you are five or 105. I hope you get to see it because it is so exciting to watch a story you have never seen or heard of before.
The theatre is my favourite way of storytelling because lots of people help to ell the story – so you make a lots of friends if you write plays. You need actors to tell the story, people to make the costumes they wear, people to draw what the story will look like, and then people to build that drawing into a set on the stage. And that’s just for starters.
When you have the job of a director you can look at a story on the page, think about what it might look like and then ask people to act it out in front of you. Nina Hajiyianni is the director of the play Happily Ever After.
Nina said to me: “It is fun to be a director, it’s like painting pictures but with people, you get to move people around. But sometimes you get stuck and you can’t quite work out what the ending should be or what the middle is and you have to think really hard about what the best way to tell the story is.”
I worry about when people can go for a wee so I asked her if actors can go to the toilet anytime they like. She said: “The actors can’t go to the toilet if they’re in the middle of a performance, if the audience is watching. They have to go to the toilet before the audience is there. They can’t nip off the stage because that would interrupt the story.” Well, she is the director after all.
She said something that I thought was amazing about going to the theatre: “I love going to the theatre because you never quite know what to expect and I love being surprised and I love feeling that even if it is a story I already know, I don’t quite know how they are going to tell it, so a magic happens when things start to appear suddenly before your eyes. I think it is magical that actors are real and standing right in front of you. Everything is alive!”
All the pictures of Happily Ever After look so fun – it looks a bit like a cartoon came to life and I think it is really special to see a story that hardly ever gets told, and I’m really excited about seeing it. I hope you get to see it too.