Presentation House Theatre (PHT) and Mexico’s famed Marionetas de la Esquina present the Canadian premiere of Amaranta Leyva’s whimsical and enchanting puppet show, Sleeping Beauty Dreams, at Presentation House Theatre from January 25 to February 4, 2018. A princess with overprotective parents and a lonely boy whose single mother works all the time are at the heart of this international collaboration. As they embark on a journey of self-discovery, both the princess and boy learn about the power of positive risk-taking.
“We are excited to team with Presentation House Theatre to share this charming production with Vancouver audiences,” says Marionetas de la Esquina Master Puppeteer Lourdes Pérez Gay and Co-Director of Sleeping Beauty Dreams. “In reimagining this classic fairytale through the humour and honesty of puppetry, we see the princess trying to break free of her castle walls to find her true self. In essence, this is a fresh coming of age story.”
Kim Selody, Artistic Director of Presentation House Theatre and Co-Director of Sleeping Beauty Dreams, adds, “While aimed at children five years of age and up, Sleeping Beauty Dreams has much to offer today’s parents. Here we have a boy largely left to his own devices and a girl whose parents keep her within their own four walls because they have been told if she pricks her finger, she’ll die. In many ways, it’s an examination of two parenting extremes as seen through the eyes of children: latch-key kids and helicopter parents.”
Written by award-winning playwright Amaranta Leyva, Sleeping Beauty Dreams begins with a childless queen who wishes to have a baby more than anything else in the world. A magical frog appears and grants her wish as long as she promises he can be the baby’s godparent. When the queen does not keep her promise, the frog places a life-threatening curse on the princess. To protect their daughter, the king and queen prevent her from ever leaving the castle. As the years pass, the princess grows more curious and yearns to explore the world outside her window. Meanwhile, the queen’s maid has a son who wishes he could join his mother inside the castle where she works day and night. When the princess and the boy finally meet, they bravely face their fears, develop confidence to make their own decisions, and discover they are destined to be together.
Originally commissioned by Washington DC’s Kennedy Center, Sleeping Beauty Dreams has toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe. The work is directed by 72 year-old Lourdes Pérez Gay, revered in Mexico for her puppet creations, and features music by renowned composer Simon Bellefleur.
To prepare for this Canadian theatrical first, the Marionetas de la Esquina team travelled from Mexico to Vancouver to train and mentor a local cast to perform the show in English. Selody notes that part of the magic of this collaboration for his organization has been learning about the role Marionetas de la Esquina played in helping children cope with the aftermath of the recent Mexican earthquake. “It has been an enormous insight into how theatre can rebuild spirit and address real and urgent needs.” As part of this international exchange, members of the Presentation House Theatre team will visit Mexico in late 2018 to train Spanish artists to perform their signature youth production, Jack and the Bean, in their own language.
Sleeping Beauty Dreams showcases Timothy Gosley, one of Canada’s most renowned puppeteers. Gosley, who worked with Jim Henson on Fraggle Rock and whose puppetry has been featured extensively in film and television, is returning to the theatre specifically for the opportunity to work with Lourdes Pérez Gay. The local ensemble cast also includes actor and puppeteer Randi Edmundson; Jessie Award-winning actor and playwright Linda Carson; actor and improviser Brent Hirose; and multi-talented actor, set-designer, and Studio 58 graduate Shizuka Kai.
The Presentation House Theatre production is spearheaded by an esteemed creative team with puppet choreography by Lourdes Pérez Gay, set and costume design by Edyta Rzewuska, puppet design by Lucio Espindola, and lighting design by Emilano Leyva.
Sleeping Beauty Dreams runs January 25 to February 4 and you can get tickets here.