The Ice Maiden

It’s about time I reveal the detail of our major new project – The Ice Maiden, inspired from the original short story by Hans Christian Anderson, a strange little fairy tale that will work as the source for a very SourDough adaptation.

Following on from the previous blog, I’ll summarise how we came across this relatively-unknown tale. Having decided that we wanted to do an adaptation of a pre-existing text, probably an archaic one with a nice mythological flavour, we ended up looking at a wide variety of classic stories from around the world, eventually narrowing it down to 2 possiblities – The Ice Maiden and The Odyssey. We were quite split over which one to do, but ultimately decided that while we had a lot of ideas for The Odyssey they were logistically and financially too ambitious right now – and so we came to The Ice Maiden.

Anderson’s story is pretty dark, a tale about a young man in Switzerland called Rudy, whose life is beset by an evil being, the queen of the glaciers, a force of icey rage from the natural world, the titular Ice Maiden. Its translated, archaic dialogue gives you a gothic richness, while also leaving room for our own writing to fill in the gaps inevitably left by the novel-play transisition. If you glance through the original text you can see the sort of thing many theatre companies would do with it, it would really work as a folksy, whimsical piece for children – Theatre Alibi would love to do this play.

But we wanted to do something a little more interesting. Family-orientated theatre has never been our thing and we saw a lot more potential in the story. Our version would be ‘multi-old-media’, deeply immersed in a morbid fairy-tale atmosphere, a world both beautiful and grotesque, illustrated with many of our favourite devices; shadows, projection and live music. If you’ve seen our previous productions the most similar we can compare it to is A Christmas Carol, at least in it’s more theatrical parts where we used several set devices to create the effects we wanted. We should be able to make this quite a fascinating performative journey though a dark little world.
We’ve been working on it for a few weeks now and are making steady progress. We started by repeatedly running through the text, working out how to change the structure, narrowing down the characters and gathering more and more ideas of what we wanted to try. A list of conventions was made – shadow puppets for animals, wooden puppets for children for instance – and gradually a script started taking form. It was a tricky one to write, mostly because we end up changing style so frequently; it is hard to change your mindset from planning a part-live, part-projected video dream sequence, to writing naturalistic dialogue for an awkward dinner scene. But we now have a working script and are beginning to create and experiment, bit-by-bit.

From now on we’ll try and keep this blog a little more updated, and give you all the latest news on the high and lows of making such a changeable, complex piece.

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