Ravenshead Theatre Group return to Pantomime in January 2018 with that ever-popular fairytale, Cinderella. One of the UK’s most performed pantos with a ‘persecuted heroine’ storyline that is known to almost everyone. When given the task of writing an article about Cinderella, it’s very popularity made me wonder where to begin, but my curiosity about it’s heritage led me to the internet and there I found some fascinating origins that actually go back to Ancient Greece.
Folklore experts point to thousands of versions of this classic tale throughout the world, but the story of Rhodopis from 7 BC is generally considered to be the earliest known variant. Rhodopis is a Greek slave girl whose sandal is snatched by an eagle whilst she is bathing. The eagle carries the sandal to the King of Egypt who then gets his men to scour the land for the woman who wore the sandal. In true fairytale tradition the King eventually marries Rhodopis.
Several different variants appear in the medieval Tales of The Arabian Nights and all have the theme of a younger sibling harassed by two jealous elders – precursors of the Ugly Sisters. The first European version of the story was published in Italy in 1634. Giambattista Basile assembled a set of oral folk tales into a collection named The Pentamerone. His story features a wicked stepmother and evil stepsisters, magical transformations, a missing slipper and a hunt by a monarch for the owner of the slipper. In 1697, a French author, Charles Pervault, introduced the famous elements of a pumpkin, the Fairy Godmother and a glass slipper.
The debut for Cinderella as a pantomime was at the Drury Lane Theatre, London in 1904. It has been a perennial family favourite ever since. With the birth of cinema, hundreds of films have been made that are either direct adaptations from Cinderella or have plots loosely based upon the story. The famous Walt Disney animated film was released in 1950 and is considered to be one of the Disney classics.
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Tickets can also be bought directly from Adcock Financial in the Ravenshead shopping precinct, or by phone on 07742 057 153, or by email: rtgboxoffice@gmail.com.
John Birch for RTG Publicity