The phrase “Cinderella story” tells us immediately that it’s a narrative about someone in unfortunate circumstance who rises to to unexpected success, just as Cinderella won the glass slipper. But where did the story first come from?
No, it wasn’t first told by the Disney film in the ‘50s, or even by the Brothers Grimm in the 19th century fairy tale. According to UWM theater professor Robin Mello, this story has been retold for millennia, rising (like Cinderella herself) from humble beginnings as a story from pre-literate times that became a fable independently springing up across diverse cultures and told in varying ways. You might say the story of Cinderella is itself a Cinderella Story
Mello will explore that evolution alongside her students in Cinderella: The First 30,000 Years, a theatrical work they’ve developed from scratch. It begins in perhaps one of the most self-aware ways possible for a university production – as the presentation of a doctoral dissertation about the Cinderella myth that gives the audience some historical information and analysis – and quickly transitions into a Brechtian, episodic retelling of five variations on the myth, from ancient Egyptian, Asian, Russian, Germanic and contemporary Disney perspectives.
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