Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales have been loved by generations of children. In Sweden, I grew up reading The Emperor’s New Clothes, Thumbelina, The Princess and the Pea and The Steadfast Tin Soldier. His stories – especially his technique of making inanimate objects, such as toys, come to life – laid the groundwork for children’s writers such as Lewis Carroll and Beatrix Potter.
In this interpretation by award-winning German puppet theatre company Thalias Kompagnons, Steadfast Tin Soldier becomes a dreamscape painted on a transparent screen by gifted creator Joachim Torbahn. As my seven-year old said, “He’s a good drawer” – by which he meant that Torbahn works wonders with a paintbrush.
Often the audience had to work hard until the very end to figure out what the picture would portray, but once the final strokes were done, there was never any doubt.
The tin soldier’s struggle to be with his beloved tissue paper ballerina is a story about true love, but it is also about adversity, bravery and the element that chance plays in all our lives. It did help to know the story before seeing this performance, as there was very little talking. The allure of this unusual show is in the way the children in the audience relate to the tin soldier and help him along on his journey.
If Steadfast Tin Soldier inspires small artists to take up their brushes and encourages new readers to find their way to Andersen’s fairy tales, it has achieved great success.
Steadfast Tin Soldier was performed at the Space Theatre as part of a national tour by Thalias Kompagnons.
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