Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What this story means to me.

Why am I adapting and directing this new stage version of "The Last Unicorn?"

Time to get a little personal, and consequently maybe slightly weird.

Like so many of you, the first time I encountered the story of "The Last Unicorn" was via the animated version as a kid. I grew up in Raleigh, NC, and we'd often visit my grandparents in nearby Pinehurst. A frequent activity while visiting was heading down the street to the mom-n-pop video rental place and picking up a movie or two to watch. For a while, I would always insist on the animated version of "The Last Unicorn" being one of them- I'd watch it over and over again. When I was in my early teens, I had a life-changing moment when I found out that there was a NOVEL on which the movie was based (I was a voracious reader of fantasy novels back then; I was kind of stupefied that I had never found the novel before). So I devoured that, and it's been one of my favorite books ever since; I've owned several copies of it (including one that I loaned to a famous director...who never gave it back. She knows who she is. It's ok, I bought another copy. Eventually.) I remember being tremendously excited when, as a freshman in high school, I found a VHS copy of the movie version for sale while I was in Toronto. So the story and its characters have been with me most of my life- certainly as far back as I can remember. I really connected with a lot of the themes even as a kid- I knew a lot about what it was like to want to be spectacular but to sometimes fall short (like Schmendrick, and even poor Mommy Fortuna). I understood what it was like to feel uncomfortable in my own skin, like Amalthea. That theme of transformation has always been an important part of stories that compel me- whether The Last Unicorn, the ORIGINAL version of The Little Mermaid, Swan Lake, or even werewolf movies (which I also find awesome.) I later went on to appreciate many other works by Peter S. Beagle- but "The Last Unicorn" is special to me. It's a story that won't leave me alone- as a director I feel like it's something I almost have to get out of my system before I move on to other projects. Not that this won't be a pleasure to direct- I am obsessed with this story and can't wait to share it with everyone on stage, (i.e., on my turf as a theatre artist). Also, it's a great chance to connect with other people who love this story as much as I do- I will probably be at most of the performances, and I would love to speak with any and all of you to whom this great story means as much as it does to me.

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