Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Theater Group Explores Diversity through Fairy Tales Actors Weave Together Stories from Their Own Heritage to Create 'Fables'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Theater Group Explores Diversity through Fairy Tales Actors Weave Together Stories from Their Own Heritage to Create 'Fables'

Article excerpt

Czech director Pavel Dobrusky and Norwegian director Per-Olav Sorensen frequently collaborate, and when they do, lightning strikes.

Their productions feature fantastic special effects (they are both set designers as well), caustic social commentary, and dynamic performances. They can be outrageous, even offensive, but they are never boring.

They divide their time between Europe and America, and have produced three distinctive pieces for the Denver Center Theatre Company (DCTC), and this year's offering is a multicultural exploration of folk tales. "Fables" takes its cue from folklorist Joseph Campbell, finding connections among these stories that are sometimes poetic, and sometimes too weird for words. A fine cast with a multicultural heritage (Americans all) and multifaceted talents interpret the stories creatively without sentimentalizing them. Part of the magic Mr. Dobrusky and Mr. Sorensen make arises from their different approach to the theater and to rehearsal - an approach best described, perhaps, as "process theater." "Fables" began as commission to do an experimental piece for the DCTC's family series. After collecting 200 fables, folk tales, and fairy tales, they auditioned actors in New York, and acquired three classically-trained singers (two of whom are Asian-Americans and one African-American), a professional clown, a gymnast, a European-American proficient in Japanese and in marital arts, an acrobat, an East Indian actress accomplished in storytelling, and dancers from a variety of traditions (14 performers plus a musician expert in a variety of ethnic instruments) - all of whom are also highly skilled actors. Every continent of the world is represented except Australia. Of the original 200, 35 stories were selected for performance, classified according to theme (all the creation tales together, all the lion stories, etc.), and dramatized - each actor taking stories from his or her own heritage and other favorites, and, using their peculiar talents to help tell the tales, began to create the "script." "The goal is to tell the fables," says Sorensen, "and where you bring people with different talents and different cultural {backgrounds}, you have to find a new way of telling, a new language of telling." Dobrusky points out that Michelangelo would feel the stone before he carved it, looking for its "heart" and believed that he was releasing the form from the stone, rather than imposing a form on it. …

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