Faerie Tale, keeper of the stories of the wood, begins this classic tale, retold with a bit of an Irish twist. It’s the beloved story of a kind-hearted prince, cursed to live as a beast, and the girl who comes to love him. Due to the scheming by the family business manager, a devoted father believes he and his three daughters are destitute and move to a rundown cottage. They are unaware that the land is under an enchantment until Father encounters the Beast nearby. For having picked a rose from the Beast’s garden, Father is forced to make a promise to return. One daughter, Keala, decides to go in his place, and over the following weeks, befriends the lonely Beast. With some help from the good faeries, they are able to overcome the evil Faerie Una and find a friendship that transcends every boundary and a love that breaks every curse.
PLAYWRIGHT KRISTI CUNNINGHAM TALKS ABOUT
“BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A FAERIETALE”
Q: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OR LINE IN THE PLAY? WHY?
A: I think my favorite lines come from the character FaeriebTale. “Welcome to the Enchanted Wood, from the smell of ye, I kin tell ye’ve not been here before.” And later, “Bless my soul but I smell the want of a story in ye.” I love the idea that, as the narrator, the character isn’t just all knowing, but that he/she can smell things in the air. For me, it is this sense of smell that provides the unspoken dialogue from the audience making them a part of the story and enveloping them in the fantasy atmosphere. As for my favorite part? Being a die-hard romantic, I love the scene where Beast and Keala meet for the first time. He is hidden in the shadows, and then he steps into the light, she faints, and he catches her in his arms. There is something very fortuitous and romantic about that moment.
Q: WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART IN CREATING THIS ADAPTATION?
A: Everything. At first I was excited at the prospect of putting my twist on this classic tale, but as I was reading all of the stories I could find, (almost every culture has a Beauty and the Beast tale) I found that most of them were little more than a few facts and a moral. They were one or two paragraphs at the most, so it was up to me to create a back story, a reason and motivation for the characters. And although the story has been told many times, I found it extremely difficult to create on paper what I saw in my head. I knew I wanted it to have an Irish feel and I knew there needed to be faeries, but creating a well-developed storyline and characters in a timely manner proved incredibly difficult. The whole process was quite painful, but after a little over a year, I finally finished the play. As a result of the blood, sweat, and tears, I’m a little more sensitive about this script and I hold it very close to my heart.
Q: WHAT DID YOU TRY TO ACHIEVE THROUGH THIS ADAPTATION?
A: My goal was to create a freshness, if you will, to the story while retaining a classic feel along with a great sense of fun, romance, and adventure. I wanted to create memorable characters that haven’t been seen before in other adaptations or stories and make them come alive and seem as though they had been there the whole time. It also seemed important to create a beast who was never a beast in the beginning. For me, he needed to be someone with a kind heart and a sense of fairness and integrity, which makes his imprisonment in a beast’s body all the more tragic.