Solving the riddle of Rumpelstiltskin

IMAG0876-1Allison has worked with our theatre for several years, stage managing shows and contributing her creativity to our dynamic program. She is currently assisting Theatre Artistic Director Reba Short with Playmaking: Rumpelstiltskin, a collaborative playwriting process in which young actors work together to develop a script.

One of the very first questions that came up in our first week of playmaking was, “Who is Rumpelstiltskin?” We even wondered, “What is Rumpelstiltskin?”

Those Grimm brothers are certainly mysterious about the magical little man. As we dive into playmaking, our group of young actors has made it a mission to solve these riddles for our future audiences. Reba and I posed the added challenge of thinking outside the box, encouraging these creative minds to reach beyond the original fairytale as they bring this story to life.

At our first meeting, we read through the very beginning of the story and used movement, writing prompts, and tableaux (or frozen pieces from the story) to explore the Weaver, his daughter, and the King/Prince (or as we’ve labeled him, a “Pringle”) who meets them. After only one day, we collected a rich basis for what brings this girl to the Pringle’s castle to face that seemingly impossible task of spinning straw into gold.

IMAG0861At our second meeting, our Playmakers were eager to jump into the puzzle of Rumpelstiltskin himself. Topher, a Children’s Theatre veteran, bravely volunteered to be the model for Rumpelstiltskin’s form. The group proceeded to fill in the outline of his body with words about his identity and intentions, even exploring parts of his appearance. But they were certainly not finished with just the inside!

The second stage of this project involved thinking like Rumpelstiltskin. What are his first words to the Weaver’s daughter? After all, he needs to catch her attention and convince her to trust him with just one sentence! Perhaps he is indignant -“How dare you not notice me?” wrote enthusiastic new-comer Leah.) Or perhaps he’s playful, singing “La la la, I am a man who can help you, la la la.” Or maybe those mysterious Grimm brothers were onto something: “I am as big as a shoe and I can help you,” is an intriguingly cryptic greeting contributed by actor Sydney.

We ended our first week by brainstorming answers to these four statements:

I am as big as ___

I am as small as ___

I am as kind as ___

I am as forgiving as ___


There are so many possibilities! Can you think of any?