Friday, February 17, 2012

These are not the Disney fairy tales...

It seems that fairy tales are in. Lately I've been hearing so much about them: the TV shows "Grimm" and "Once upon a Time," the re-making of children's fairy tales into adult movies: "Red Riding Hood" (2011) and "Snow White and the Huntsman" (2012) with Charlize Theron as the evil queen.

the Märchenhütte
So when I heard about a small German theater that plays fairy tales--for children during the day and for adults at night--I had to go.

Tonight Michael and I saw four Märchen (fairy tales) at the Märchenhütte (fairy tale cabin). In "preparation," I've been reading the original Grimm fairy tales on the train while commuting to/from the library and the FU. They're really fun to go back to as an adult, and these Grimm versions are so violent and brutal sometimes--very different from the watered-down Disney stories. For example, did you know Rapunzel gets pregnant, and that's how the evil fairy (not a witch) knows the prince has been getting up into the tower?! And here is what happens to the evil stepmother in "The 12 brothers": Was sollten sie mit der bösen Stiefmutter anfangen; sie ward in ein Faß gesteckt von siedendem Oehl und von giftigen Schlangen angefüllt, und starb da eines bösen Todes. [she was put in a barrel with boiling oil and filled with poisonous snakes, and died there a nasty death].  Ha! Sometimes it makes me laugh out loud.

I remember reading the original Hans Christian Anderson "Little Mermaid" at my aunt Julie's house--which was a much different version than the Disney one. It also reminds me of hearing Lise Lunge-Larsen's troll stories when I was in school in Duluth. She's a local storyteller who draws upon the Norwegian tradition of telling troll stories. Here, too, kids hear somewhat brutal stories: but good always wins over evil, smart people are able to trick the dumb trolls through cunning.

And I love the patterns that emerge: don't tell a lie, good deeds will be repaid, persistence pays off...

We saw "Der Wolf & die sieben Geißlein" [The wolf and the seven little goats], "Das tapfre Schneiderlein" [the valiant little tailor] and two "Gruselmärchen" [horror stories] for adults, rated 18+. "Gevatter Tod" [Godfather Death], and "Von einem, der auszog, das Fürchten zu lernen" [The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was]. Our favorite was the Schneiderlein. They did a great job playing off of the two characters. Michael: "Hysterical." The "adult" Märchen were a bit of a disappointment. Not scary, but also not as funny as the other ones. They took "adult" to mean "vulgar" in most cases...But it was a really cool atmosphere in the "cabin", and a unique Berlin/German experience.

Have any of you seen these new movies, or the TV shows? Or re-read fairy tales recently? I'd like to know what you think about this phenomenon.

outside the "cabin" there was a campfire, another cabin, and a pizzeria


  1. IF I had only this very experience you've described, it would be enough for my whole life - truly most extraorinary to say the least!

  2. Something you can do but I couldn't... Not understanding the German:(. LOVE the Rapunzel story!

  3. Kathryn - you have always loved theater AND fairy of my favorite memories is how intense you were at the opening of "Beauty and the Beast" yep Disney version! You had to sit on my lap because you were terrified...yelled for the Beast not to hurt Gaston at the end only to watch in horror when he crept up and stabbed the Beast in the back to which you yelled - "go ahead throw him over!" :)
    If only I could sit with you and watch these...miss you lots!