[ON STAGE]A New Moral for an Old Story

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[ON STAGE]A New Moral for an Old Story

"The Dwarf Who Loved Snow White" is a play within a play. This production escapes becoming a formula fairy tale, as the original "Snow White" was, and creates an entirely new moral to the story.

The play begins with seven actors in full dwarf regalia deliberating who will play the role of Snow White. Once the role is assigned to one of the female actors, the lights fade and the music begins, signaling the beginning of the play within the play.

The play follows the plot of the original "Snow White": Beautiful Snow White is lured into the forest only to be poisoned by the wicked queen. The real hero of this rendition, however, is Dopey, a quiet but sentimental dwarf who is too shy to proclaim his love for Snow White, but who relates his feelings for her through dance.

The play doesn't end with an upbeat sing-along of "Heigh Ho." Instead, the performance dwells on the psychological trauma Dopey experiences after bringing the prince to Snow White. When the prince finally kisses the girl to stir her from her slumber and Snow White accepts his marriage proposal, Dopey dies of lovesickness.

The dwarfs in the performance play multiple roles. In the beginning, they stand in as the trees from which Snow White picks the poisonous fruit. Then they play tigers which Dopey faces on his trip to the mountain to fetch a remedy for Snow White's poison. Later they pose as the lake, the wicked queen, the prince and the narrator. Their multitude of parts might suggest that the stage troupe is simply understaffed. But the casting adds a meaningful twist to the play. By allowing the same actor to play both prince and wicked queen, or dwarf and tiger, the play contradicts the polarized model of "good and evil," reflected in the original "Snow White," and suggests that nothing in life is so simple, even a fairy tale.

Often the productions of childrens' plays in Korea resemble high school workshops that offer shabby stage sets with funny props picked up from Namdaemun, a discount shopping area, five minutes before the play begins.

Though "The Dwarf Who Loved Snow White" is just as low-budget as other childrens' plays here, this work, without using fancy set decorations, is creatively uplifting and highly original.

For more information, call 02-3444-0651(English service available).

by Park Soo-mee

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