It’s always interesting to see how creative teams can revamp or repurpose classic Fairytales to comment on the here and now, and thanks to Laura Boone and Liv Frazer, a new fairytale-focused show is arriving at the Camden Fringe next week. “Cupid’s Arrow” takes well known fairytales and explores the relationships – bad and good – within them to reflect on concepts around romantic relationships now. The show is set to play the Etcetera Theatre 19-21 August, so I caught up with this ambitious duo to chat about all things “Cupid’s Arrow”…
So, how are you and how are things going as you prepare to bring Cupid’s Arrow to the Camden Fringe?
We are doing great and looking forward to our show and performing with a live audience again. Initially, we wrote the play for zoom, so we had to make the play more action based in preparation for the show. But we are really happy with it now. Don’t get us wrong, we have faced challenges as finding a rehearsal venue was difficult due to covid and funding the project has been very hard but we are lucky to have such a supportive network of people around us . Laura is also pregnant, so it has made preparing for a show a little tricky! But we are up for the challenge. We can’t wait to spill all our trials and tribulations of relationships.
This work aims to answer a big question: “Do fairy tales really represent modern-day relationships?” What drew you to explore fairytales in this way?
Laura: I always felt in my youth, we have grown up with fairy tales, where the beautiful girl/princess always gets the prince. This narrative of relationships has also been portrayed in classic romantic films for generations . Therefore, subconsciously society has been educating young girls that we must be “princesses”, find a man, fall in love, get married, have kids and “live happily ever after”. My Christian faith has also confirmed this narrative. However, when I started my dating journey, I soon found this narrative was incorrect, and relationships are far more complicated. Apart from the fairy tales, the only other information I had was from sex education at school which was extremely limited!
We are hoping to change this and take this play on tour to different schools to talk about emotions and the difficulties in relationships but also add a hint of humour. Only in recent years have I heard the media talking about “toxic relationships” and “red flags.” Putting a fairytale narrative to this just made sense really.
You began work on this play before the ‘our streets now’ campaign, so more specifically, what drew you to the subject matter of relationships and women who are ‘kept in the dark?
Liv: Our dating journey has never been smooth sailing, and with the lack of knowledge of what a “healthy relationship” looks like, we have not always dated the right person. For example, I ended up dating a married person because I was unaware of what the “red flags” look like. By the time, I found out I had fallen in love with him. This has made us reflect further on the roles of men and women in society. Women are often sexualised or seen as the “perfect wife” material by other men, and you can’t be both. This has also made us question why women end up in abusive relationships. As the play explores our experience with men and relationships, we hope that using our experiences will empower others to “come out of the dark” and reflect on theirs.
You’re hoping to develop Cupid’s Arrow as a TIE piece – what makes you passionate about TIE and why do you feel this piece would be valuable for young people to see?
Laura: As previously mentioned, in school we generally are taught about sex, but not the relationships themselves. We are also taught by mainstream society that looking beautiful and sexy will get you your “prince”. From my experience, I only learnt about “toxic ”, “grooming”, and “controlling” relationships when I was older. Sadly in some cases, only when I experienced these types of relationships first hand.
We feel these issues around relationships are valuable for young people to know so;
A) They can learn how to respect each other.
B) Be aware of the “red flags”.
C) Feel empowered to say no and to questions when something doesn’t feel right.
D) Not to make the other person feel pressured in the relationships, either.
We hope that using fairy tales and other people’s experiences as a vehicle to get our message across will engage young people.
True to its TIE aspirations, Cupid’s Arrow aims to be both entertaining and thought-provoking by exploring both satirical and upsetting relationship dynamics. Does the piece carry an age advisory?
The pieces are currently not suitable for under 12s. Even though there is not much explicit sexual content, we are not “sugar-coating”, bringing the stories more into the modern-day. We talk about sexual predators, stalkers and abusive patterns, so we will be adapting it before we go into schools. However, to be able to educate, the facts need to be highlighted and hope to talk about the “ugly” side of relationships. We need to talk about uncomfortable topics more to get this change happening! By performing at the fringe, we hope to gain support from others to help us develop the show into a TIE.
Can you give me a sense of how this show takes shape in terms of whether you explore a particular fairytale in-depth or a more comprehensive range of famous fairytale attachments?
Laura: We have explored six different fairy tales that we have adapted to link into our own experiences in relationships. For example, we have used Snow White to highlight the pressure women faced to look beautiful and be “the fairest of them all”. We also looked at Rapunzel and how we can become trapped mentally waiting for our “Prince” to come before realising that you can venture out of that tower yourself. Each fairytale links to an experience we have had in real life.
As a two-(wo)man venture, this must surely be a challenging undertaking. How have you gone about the creative process between the two of you?
Liv: Yes it has! We have written, directed acted and funded a lot of this play ourselves. But we wouldn’t want it any other way. We feel this play has a too powerful message not to be heard and listened to.
Laura: It has been challenging because there needs to be a mutual agreement of what story is told by whom and other discussions such as how the different characters are played, especially as the stories are so personal to us. As Liv says it’s hard when there are only two of us doing everything! As we are good friends and have been for ten years or so, we always have discussed and sought advice on our relationships with each other. It helps when you know someone that well. At the end of the day, we both have the same message we want to tell our audiences so that has helped us keep the focus and the will to carry on.
What are you most looking forward to as you return to performing for live and in-person audiences at the Camden Fringe?
Laura: I am looking forward to performing in front of a live audience. Because performing in front of this type of audience provides a new layer to the production and different energy. Taking the performance to Camden Fringe is an excellent opportunity to perform in front of strangers, as it will provide us additional feedback with new perspectives for the show’s development.
And finally, in just one sentence, why should audiences come and see Cupid’s Arrow?
Liv: This play is surprisingly funny! We have so many gags in it. It’s a laugh. But it also talks about stuff that is relevant NOW.
So there you have it! Remember: “Cupid’s Arrow” plays the Etcetera Theatre 19-21 August 2021 and you can find your tickets here.