Snow business: The Snow Queen
Over the last few years, Andy Arnold’s Arches has established a tradition of putting on beautiful, immersive versions of classic children’s stories for 3-8-year-olds who might find themselves a wee bit lost in traditional panto. However, when Arnold upped sticks for the Tron earlier this year, the festive productions lost both their writer and director. Not to fret, though – the next generation of artists associated with the venue has risen to the occasion. This year, the Arches are taking on Hans Christian Andersen’s spooky, gorgeous story The Snow Queen, scripted by acclaimed young playwright Megan Barker, and directed by Al Seed, better known for his dark, very adult performance pieces.
‘We wanted to find a balance between preserving everything that was good about Andy’s shows and showing how the Arches is going to move forward,’ says Seed. ‘So, our Snow Queen is still aimed at the very teeny-tiny ones, and I’m going to preserve that very strong, magical visual element that Andy started too, so we’ll still have puppets, masks and spectacular costumes. I want to make our studio theatre into a completely encapsulating environment, so I’m working with a sound designer to create the aural effect of being inside a glacier, inside the Queen’s palace, at all times.’
The Snow Queen, the story of a magical mirror that implants shards of ice in people’s hearts and makes them cruel and selfish, is a very human fable, but, as Seed admits, it’s also a very dark story.
‘My own, more adult, work, is definitely dark, which is why I was attracted to this production – there are elements in the best stories for children which are dark and grim. But we want to create something appealing and fun, as well, find the humour in the monsters. Megan’s adaptation includes a potted history of fairy tales, too – look out for frogs turning into princes and a little cameo appearance from Sleeping Beauty.’
Seed is well aware of the challenges of this new audience and form.
‘Kids are much harsher as an audience. They don’t take any rubbish, and will let you know very quickly if you’re not hitting the right notes. Very quickly!’
The Snow Queen, the Arches, Glasgow, Wed 3 Dec–Sun 4 Jan. Call 0141 565 1000 or visit www.thearches.co.uk to book.