We spoke to playwrite Finegan Kruckemeyer about writing original fairy tales.
* Tell us about your original fairy tale This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing.
the play follows triplet sisters who (in homage to the archetypes of fairytale) are left in the forest by a woodcutter father, at the behest of a not-nice stepmother. but from here i tried to subvert the form and separate the trio, so that one girl walks one way around the globe, one the other, and the third stays where she is. in this manner, they topple lighthouses, lead armies, both befriend and eat woodland animals, and fall in and out of love – before twenty years have passed and the two travelling sisters have circumnavigated the globe and finally meet up once again with their waiting sister, as women.
* You’re a prolific playwrite. Are there other fairy tales among your many plays?
altogether i’ve written 70 commissioned works, with the majority being for children. and of these, a large number have paid respect to the tropes or symbols of fairytale, whether intentionally or merely as a reader of these stories while a child, and now a celebrator of these stories as an adult writing for children (and families – i don’t like to curtail the top age of an audience). basically, magical realism is of great appeal to me, in that it allows a reflection of basic existential truths that are relatable to any audience, while marrying this with the permission of the fantastical. fairytale gives the same permission.
* What is it about the fairy tale genre that attracted you to write this/these plays?
sorry, i’ve accidentally answered that above a little. in truth, i don’t know that the particular genre is the hook, but rather some of its stylistic and symbolic elements, those times when fairytale content can nicely replicate human truths and hurdles and achievements. so the fantastical is for me more of a conduit – and the empathetic sharing of human ordeals is the real objective.
* Were you told fairy tales as a child? If so, by whom? Or did you read them yourself?
absolutely. having an english mum, a german dad and being born and raised in ireland, i was privy to three cultures rich with story and fairytale. both read to me often, and then i inherited that love of reading and took up the mantle myself. to this day (as my profession would suggest) a great great love of words and stories endures.
* What is your favourite fairy tale, and why?
sorry but i can’t name one. i haven’t really read any for a long time, so think that instead of one, i actually prefer the amalgam that’s formed in my memory – i like all the symbols of breadcrumbs and long hair and dark woods and child heroes battling human-sized odds combined.
* Do you think fairy tales are for adults as well as children?
absolutely. when watching companies present my works, time and again i bear witness to adults who are chaperoning their kids falling back into the nostalgia of fairytale motifs themselves. the analogies never really change, and being able to view the symbols of fairytales from the perspective of a life now somewhat more lived, i think is an engaging and healthy thing.
* Are there other original fairy tales on the cards?
yes. i’m currently writing a few commissions which honour the form, and each is an excitement.
Finegan has had 70 commissioned plays performed on five continents, and was an inaugural recipient of the Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship. In 2014, 18 works are presented in seven countries. His plays have been in: over 50 international festivals; six US national tours; five UK national tours; and at the Sydney Opera House (six works), New York’s New Victory Theater (three), Dublin’s Abbey Theatre and Shanghai’s Malan Flower Theatre. Finegan’s works have received at least one award each year since 2004. He was Keynote Speaker at the 2013 One Theatre World North American Conference, with previous presentations in nine countries, essays published, and plays studied at various US universities and the subjects of various academic papers.