This is Hannah’s packing so far…
This is Hannah’s packing so far…
There have been some lovely mentions in the press about the show already, including this (deeply charming and definitely accurate) FIVE STAR REVIEW!
There have also been mentions in Fringe institution Three Weeks -
And lovely looking new review site Fringe Biscuit -
Woop! Only 22 hours til train time! I still haven’t packed…
Rehearsals (Taken with Instagram)
MONDAY, MONDAY, THE PREVIEW IS ON MONDAY!!!
I am spending the weekend in bed, alternately trying to get the timings right on my new poemsong and catching up on The Walking Dead, to remind myself that there are scarier things in life than performing.
Actually, I can only think of one thing. Zombies. Still…
THE FRINGE GUIDE IS HERE!!!
Look look look! The trailer for the show’s up!
I’m working on a selection of teeny little books to take to Edinburgh and sell at the moment - some are going to be short stories, some poems. People ask me how to make them a lot, or say they’d love to self publish but don’t have the start up capital. Anyone can self publish little chapbook things though - you just need any old printer and a lot of patience! The instructions above show you how.
This is part of a sequence of short stories, retelling fairytales from another perspective. I think in a lot of modern fairytales, the “heroine” is so passive that you end up rooting for the baddie, because they at least do something once in a while.
I’ve always liked the stepmother from Snow White. When I was a little girl, I thought she was the most beautiful character I’d ever seen.
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful, beautiful Queen. In her younger days, this Queen was so beautiful that birds would fall out of the air ahead of her when they caught sight of her face, so taken were they with her loveliness that they fell into a dead faint.
But she is older now.
The beautiful Queen was married to a fine, handsome King. She lived with him and his little daughter, who his first wife had died bearing, and they were happy. The Queen loved her little stepdaughter, and would sit her on her knee and comb out the girl’s raven curls and tie them with ribbon and say,
“One day, little girl, when you are all grown up, you will be as beautiful as me.”
and the little girl would laugh, and say,
“Don’t be silly, Step-Mummy! I can’t ever be as beautiful as you!”
and the beautiful Queen would hug her tight to her chest. And they were happy.
One day, the beautiful Queen woke up and her King was gone. The Queen’s first thought was to fly to her little step daughter, but the girl was still there, sleeping prettily on a satin pillow. The Queen woke the girl and, together, they hunted high and low through the castle. But the King was nowhere to be found.
The Queen and the little girl went to the King’s manservant and asked what had become of him. He looked uncomfortable, but he told them.
“The King has gone, my lady. He rode out this morning. He … he said to tell you he would never be back.”
For comfort, the Queen wound her fingers into her step daughter’s soft, black hair. She could feel tears prickling in her elegant nose, but she must not cry in front of the girl.
“But … why? Where has he gone?”
The manservant would not meet her eye.
“He has gone to another woman. I’m so sorry.”
The little girl piped up.
“Why would he leave us? Doesn’t he love us anymore?”
No one said anything. The little girl continued.
“Surely the new lady isn’t as pretty as Step-Mummy?”
And the Queen could tell from the manservant’s face that she was.
With her husband gone, the Queen had to take charge of the castle. She made sure her little step daughter was fed and washed and cared for by the maids, but she no longer had time to brush the little girl’s hair. The times she did see the girl, the King’s eyes looked out of her sweet little face, and the Queen trembled to see them. So she stayed away.
She had the manservant ride out to all the wizards of the kingdom, and beyond, looking for something that would guard against a tragedy like her abandonment ever happening again. It took a year and a day, but eventually, he came back with a mirror, covered in cloth. The Queen laughed at him.
“Fool! I have plenty of mirrors!”
But the manservant smiled and uncovered the mirror. The Queen gasped to see, not her own face reflected back, but the face of an old, old man.
“Who are you?”
The man smiled, as if she had said something very funny indeed.
“I am the mirror, of course. Do you have a question for me?”
And the Queen understood why the manservant had brought her the mirror and gave him the biggest smile she could stretch her face into.
“Yes. I need to know. Who is the most beautiful in all of this kingdom?”
And the mirror closed it’s eyes for a second, like it was searching through its own brain. Eventually, it said
“You are, my Queen.”
And the Queen laughed and laughed and laughed. And she was happy.
The Queen was so happy that she went to see her little step daughter. She picked up the hairbrush and went over to her. But instead of climbing into her lap, the way she always had in the past, the girl sat there, not moving, on her window seat. The Queen went over to her and started brushing out her curls. The girl did not resist, but she did not say anything either.
As she worked, the Queen studied the girl’s reflection in the glass. She had not been around to notice, but she saw now that in the last year her step daughter had stopped being a little girl. She was well on her way to being a woman.
The Queen finished brushing the hair and tied it, carefully, off the girl’s face, using the fattest, reddest ribbon in the box. She smiled at the girl.
“There now! So pretty! One day, when you grow up, you’ll be as beautiful as me!”
And the girl did not laugh and say that no one could ever be as beautiful as her step-mummy. A sly, secret smile crept across her face, and she did not say anything at all.
A year passed, maybe two, and the Queen was uneasy. Her step daughter, once so loving and kind, had withdrawn from her more and more. The Queen spent her days looking for a new King, but she had no luck. No one ever came by the castle to call on her. The Queen became lonely, and cold. Every night she would go to her mirror and ask who the most beautiful one was in the whole kingdom, and every night the mirror would say that it was her. Until the night that it didn’t.
The Queen touched up her lipstick, ran her fingers through her hair and uncovered the mirror, just as she did every night.
“Who is the most beautiful in all of this kingdom, my mirror?”
And the mirror closed its eyes for a second, like it was searching through its own brain. Eventually, it said
“Your step daughter is. She has been getting lovelier by the day these last three years, and now it is she who is the fairest in all the land.”
And the Queen screamed and screamed, so hard that the King’s old manservant came running to her.
The Queen was sobbing. All the pain of losing her husband was as fresh and new as the day when he had broken her heart. The Beautiful Queen was not the most beautiful anymore, and if she was not the most beautiful then she knew she was nothing. Now, if a King were to come to the castle, it would not be her he would marry, it would be the girl. It was too late for the Queen. Her time was over and all that was left for her was to fade, greyer and greyer, and then to die. But, through the pain, an idea shone to her like the rising dawn. She turned to the servant.
“Take the girl. Take her to the forest and kill her. Bring me back her heart.”
The servant left and, little by little, the Queen’s breathing returned to normal, and she was able to cover the mirror back up, wash her face and go to bed. But she did not sleep.
The next day, the manservant bought the Queen a bloodied heart. She took the heart, and wrapped it in her own silken handkerchief, and buried it under a rose bush. She said a little prayer for her stepdaughter, and then she went inside for breakfast, her heart lighter than it had been in a long, long time.
That evening, the Queen touched up her lipstick, ran her fingers through her hair and uncovered the mirror.
“Who is the most beautiful in all of this kingdom, my mirror?”
And the mirror closed it’s eyes for a second, like it was searching through it’s own brain. Eventually, it said
“Your step daughter is. I told you.”
And the Queen felt a shard of ice in her heart and said,
“No. I had her killed. I had her heart.”
“That was a deer. Or a hart, if you will. The heart of a hart.”
And the mirror laughed to itself, a sound like shattering glass, until the Queen pulled the cloth over it once more.
Again, she had trusted a man, and again he had betrayed her. The Queen knew then that the only person she could ever trust was herself. She set to planning.
Eventually, the Queen was ready. She was wearing a disguise, a glamour cast to make her look like an old hag, and she was nearing the cottage Snow White was staying in, deep in the heart of the woods. She had poisoned an apple the night before, and left it on a ledge to gather moonlight all night, for that is how you made the most potent of poisons.
As the Queen’s young step daughter opened the door, she felt a pang, but she swallowed it down. She smiled at the girl, for the last time, and said,
“Care for an apple, deary?”
And the girl smiled at her, and took the biggest and the reddest in the basket, just as she was meant to. And she ate the apple all up and bid the old woman on her way. The Queen smiled, and left, and sat on a rock not far from the little cottage and cried and cried and cried.
I found these roses made out of old books at an event last night. They smell of stories.
A lot of the show is about my feelings about fairy tales and feminism - how the stories that mothers used to tell their kids to explain the way the world works have been appropriated by men and used to shore up a very different agenda.
Feminism isn’t fashionable. It’s not something you always get a good response from when you talk about. I think that some people think that feminists are only interested in tearing down men, which they’re doing just because they hate them, plus possibly because they’re a lesbian or something. This poem is my response to that.
I’m getting a print of the Sleeping Beauty one to hang above my bed.