Jack & the Beanstalk – Jan 2011

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Jack & the Beanstalk – Jan 2011

Cast List

Fleshcreep

Robert Longward

Fairy Moonbeam

Samantha Wells

Dame Dottie Trot

Andrew Mann

Jack Trot

Emily Bowers

Billy Trot

John Murphy

Jill

Emma Newsome

King Maurice

John Hanson

Grabbit

Andrew Featherstone

Daisy the Cow

Katie Ridler & Chloe Middleton

Giant Blunderbore

Ammar Hussain

Beans

Charlotte Bottomley, Livvi Ellis-Sharp, Kirsten Granger, Emily Mitchell, Lucie Mitchell, Courtney Richardson, Charlotte Tankard, Holly Tasker, Beth Thompson

Stalks

Darcy Bowers, Charlotte Copley, Imogen Gibson, Gabrielle Kent, Harriet Midgley, Olivia Midgley, Harriett Oakland, Olivia Pollard, Victoria Taylor

Senior Dancers

Charlotte Clayton, Megan Graseley, Aimee Holdsworth, Ashley Hudson, Ellie Romano, Sophie Tankard, Lauren Worley

THE ORIGINS OF JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

The Legend of ‘Jack The Giant Killer’

British legend tells of Jack, a farmer’s son who lived in Cornwall, close to Land’s End. A Giant terrorised the area, stealing cattle and carrying them away. Jack devised a trap, whereby he dug a pit, covered it with sticks, and lured the Giant to his doom- he did this by blowing his horn to attract him. After defeating this Giant, he went on to do many heroic deeds throughout Cornwall, and on occasion in Wales.

The setting for “Jack The Giant Killer” is often in the era of the legendary King Arthur, and this story possibly derived from tales dating back to the Vikings and the Norsemen.

The Giant is sometimes referred to as The Giant of Mount Cornwall, or as Cormoran. The legend continues Jack’s adventures as he fights another Giant, and gains for himself a coat that made him invisible, and “Seven League Boots” that gave him incredible speed. He often has a magic sword.

The Beanstalk does not feature in this legend- the addition of the magic beans, the hen that lays golden eggs and the singing harp were yet to be created.

The Early Creation of Jack and the Beanstalk

In their book “The Classic Fairy Tales”, Iona and Peter Opie describe the history of “Jack and the Beanstalk” as a “Skit upon the telling of the tale”, published in a facetious tract “Round About Our Coal Fire: Or Christmas Entertainments” published in London around 1730.

The tale tells of a “dirty, lazy, tatter-de-mallon” lad named Jack, who lives with his Grandmother in a hovel. The Grandmother possesses a magic bean which Jack purloins and plants. The Beanstalk grows at an incredible rate, the Grandmother turns into a Toad and chases Jack up the Beanstalk! En route to the top Jack comes across an enchanted tavern, populated by youths dressed “in green satin, laced with silver and white feathers on their caps, each of them mounted upon an Hobby Horse finely becked with ribbons..”

Jack is granted the power to to possess all the pleasures he desires, called “Invincible Champion”, and destroys the Giant GogMagog, thus releasing a number of knights and “several thousand virgins” who were being prepared for the Giant’s breakfast table!

The names of Gog and Magog of course are the legendary Giants who protected London- their effigies can be found today carved into a church front on Fleet Street, and have the hills near Cambridge named after them. Obviously these names were combined in this version to make one Giant.

Seventy years later, in 1807 the story was printed in full in “The History of Mother Twaddle and the Marvellous achievements of her Son Jack”, appearing as a sixpenny booklet., and as “The History of Jack and The Beanstalk printed from the original manuscript never before published” also in 1807.

The “Mother Twaddle” version has the Dame finding a sixpence, and sending her son to market to buy a goose. He is swindled by a pedlar, receives a “magic” bean, plants it and by the next morning the “top was not seen” it was so tall.

This version begins to look like OUR “Jack”- if you substitute a Cow for a Goose.

Jack reaches a Giant’s castle, is helped by the Giant’s servant, a pretty girl, and it is she who administers a “Knock-out” potion to the Giant, after which Jack chops his head off, sends for his Mother and marries the maiden.

The Opies point out in “Classic Fairy Tales” that legends of ascending to the sky by means of a ladder, or an enchanted tree are as old as Jacob’s ladder, or the Tower of Babel. In ancient legends an Ash Tree stretches to heaven, and a branch of the Bo-tree of Buddha reaches for the sky.

The Brothers Grimm had a tale of a peasant with a turnip seed, and, when the seed is dropped it grows into a tree that reaches into the sky, has adventures and marries the King’s daughter.

THE PANTOMIME DEBUT

The first pantomime was at Drury Lane in 1819. It was called “Jack and the Beanstalk:or, Harlequin and the Ogre” By Charles Dibdin. An actress named Eliza Povey played Jack, and, bearing in mind of the date, this fact makes her a contender for the very first “principal Boy”- even if the “pantomime” was not as we would know it today,

Theatrical legend has it that the Giant Beanstalk was so tall that Miss Povey refused point blank to climb it, as it towered over the stage at Drury Lane. This privilege went to a young boy named Sullivan. This early climb up the ladder of success enabled the lowly Sullivan to eventually become principal dancer at the Academie Royal in Paris- “an artiste of considerable merit and a highly respected member of society!”

Drury Lane again presented the pantomime, now called “Jack and the Beanstalk”-or, harlequin leap-year, and the merry pranks of the good little people” in 1859, and Dan Leno made his debut in the Surrey Theatre production of 1886 as Dame Durden..Dan Leno played Dame in “Jack and the Beanstalk” in 1889 at Drury Lane.

The 1899 pantomime at Drury Lane created a sensation with the climactic scene. The Nation was at that time engaged in the Boer War.For this production the Giant – traditional name “Blunderbore” was renamed “Blunderboer”! When the scene revealed the dead giant, the British Army (children dressed in full uniform) marched out of his pockets to wild acclaim! This was a reference to The Boer Leader’s boast “That I could put the British Army in my pocket!”

Again Dan Leno played Dame Trott (not Durden this time) in this production. The Boer War was eleven weeks old when the pantomime opened.

The pantomime concluded with a pageant of Shakespeare’s Heroines, who emerged from huge books in the Giant’s library.