Thursday, November 27, 2008

Me and the Princess and the Pea

I suppose that I have a hang up. See, I can’t even unequivocally admit it. Christine has always wanted me to accompany her to a performance of the Nutcracker. I have never seen a ballet nor desired to see one even though we hang Nutcracker soldiers as tree ornaments. Christine took my children to the show when they were younger and she took our oldest granddaughter last year. I am not uncultured in other areas. Oh no, I love classical music and prefer that genre to most others. Oh I’m cultured. As a matter of fact, Christine and I will soon sit with four of our grandchildren for the Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s Pantomime entitled The Princess and the Pea.

I am an expert. I saw one last year. A pantomime is an interesting art form. In Britain and the commonwealth countries a Pantomime was traditionally done at Christmas though unrelated to any Christmas theme. It is musical and comical theatre, incorporating song, dance, slapstick, humour and audience participation. A panto animal of some kind is one of pantomime’s traditional characters along with a “dame” played by a man, the “principal boy” played by a girl, a hero, a villainous dude or dudess and some magic. Our Princess and the Pea is an adaptation written by local artists Norma Rushton and Mike Balser and this offering will feature a flock of dancing, singing, hockey playing penguins.

Without a pantomime in mind Hans Christian Andersen wrote a story called The Princess and the Pea which tells of a handsome young prince's adventures as he searched the world for a ‘real’ princess to love and to marry. His futile search disappointed him and he returned home. A storm one evening brought a young woman to the gate looking for shelter. Bedraggled by the rain she did not look like a princess even though she purported to be one. The prince's mother decided to test the validity of the girl’s claim by placing a single pea on a bedstead and piling twenty mattresses and twenty eider-down comforters on top of it. There, the young woman spent the night. In the morning to the Prince’s delight, the princess told her hosts that it had been a sleepless night because of something hard in her bed. He rejoiced because he deduced that only a real princess could be so sensitive as to feel a pea through twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds. The two were married and lived happily ever after.

After I watch this pantomime, perhaps watching some male ballet dancers in tights acting like soldiers won’t be such a stretch after all. There I admitted my hang up.

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