Think of a fairy tale… Got one? Without even hearing your choice, I can probably predict that it was written by the Brothers Grimm. Cinderella, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, the list goes on and on. And what do all of these have in common, except their authorship? They have captivated readers since their publication in 1812 with their strong depictions of the struggle between good and evil. This struggle is one that has captured the minds of authors and readers alike for centuries, the general view backed up by history being that good will always triumph.
Fairy tales have been augmented and supplemented with Arthurian leg- ends, classical myths, the works of Hans Christian Anderson and others time and time again, until we all know them back to front. References to these tales fill literature and everyday culture. They even feature as the names of restaurants, and reworked versions have fuelled the entertainment industry for decades.
That is the charm of all fairy tales, the simple formulaic stories lend themselves so very well to being reimagined and that is just what Jen Grace, On the Rocks director of events did. The Saint sat down with Ms Grace prior to the performance of Mörder and discussed its origins and this year’s On the Rocks Festival.
Ms Grace recalls when she saw a multi-million pound performance of Alice in Wonderland over the summer and immediately fell for the idea of using fairy tale characters to create a centrepiece for this year’s first semester festival events. Mörder was an interactive murder mystery in which participants toured the St Andrews Castle with one of four “detectives”, in an attempt to dis- cover who murdered Hansel. The first character encountered was the victim’s sister Gretel, played in a disturbingly wonderful way by Kate Kitchens.
The victim’s father was next, a distraught Shayan Yousefi capturing this role as the darkness of the night washed over him. Rumpelstiltskin (Jack Briggs), a self-professed paedophile and Cinderella (Helena Jacques-Morton) playing the post-marriage wife with a grudge against the world, were followed by Rapunzel (Libbi Carruthers) who, thanks to being locked up for sixteen years, had missed her chance to grow up. The final character, after some harassment by the wolf and the stepmother and stepsisters of Cinderella, was Little Red Riding Hood (Hannah Ritchie) who had been reimagined as the girlfriend of Hansel. These terrifyingly real characters, the howling wind over the North Sea and the pitch black sky combined to create a truly thrilling experience.
Ms Grace praises her cast for their creative improvisation and the superb ideas that they brought to the table. The number of people who attended auditions and the quality of the improvisation pieces they performed astounded her. As ever, she says, the castle was been a wonderful venue and the staff so pleasant to work with.
In the past, the castle has been used for ceilidhs and even hosted a production of Macbeth. Ms Grace feels that the student body is so lucky to have access to such a remarkable historic landmark, which is right on our very doorstep.
Mörder was this year’s second On the Rocks event, part of the festival which out-does itself year after year. The festival hosts over 40 events annually, the majority of which are sell-out performances. The festival offers the opportunity to societies and individuals to put on arts related events, including offering those in the wider St Andrean community the chance to perform.
This, they hope creates a sense of overall community and permits people to work with those they would not normally have a chance to. With over 50 events that run over 10 days in April, the festival showcases the incredible variety of talent in St Andrews.
The prestige and success of the festival is highlighted by the fact that some of the most highly respected names in theatre, (Sean Connery, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Siobhan Redmond, Crispin Bonham Carter, Joanna Lumley, Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis) lend their patronage.
Event applications for On The Rocks 2016 are now open and the committee is looking for drama, music, photography, art, dance, fashion, comedy, spoken word, film, food, anything at all!
The final application deadline is 6 January and more details can be found at http://www.ontherocksfesti- val.com or https://www.facebook.com/ ontherocksfestival/?fref=ts