This past Tuesday at 8pm, LSA Screen Arts and Cultures Honors student Tricia Williams debuted a live reading of a draft of her script After. After, set in early 20th century London, adds modern flair to the classic fairy tale Cinderella.
Tricia’s drew inspiration from a classic, archetypal story, but her personal re-telling of the children’s story brought about many unexpected twists on the original work. Female lead Catherine, disenfranchised from her wealthy estate after her father’s death and placed under the care of a domineering step-mother, abdicates her social standing to become a rogue thief. In place of Prince Charming, two impoverished criminal siblings vie for Catherine’s affection. And Catherine’s step-sister Mildred is the sincerest and most well-meaning character in the entire story – a victim of social position and the unrealistic demands placed on women in post-Victorian society.
After alters the character archetypes and plot points of the fairy tale not only to frame a fresh narrative, but also to critique problematic representations of class and gender perpetuated throughout the literary tradition of classic children’s literature. The antagonist of the story isn’t really the evil step-mother but rather the expectations placed upon women and the exclusionary class hierarchies which inflict social violence upon the disenfranchised and well-meaning citizens. Catherine does not find solace in a magical fairy god mother, but rather in acceptance of the difficulties of making a living in the real world, among destitute migrant workers.
These thematic twists on the classic tale demonstrate the archetypal resonance of age-old literature, when contextualized to address contemporary social issues. The characters speak with authenticity and passion, motivated by the tension of social marginalization. Tricia’s script hit home not only because of its tight structure and elegant, period-specific prose, but also because of its thematic depth.