KEVIN VOGEL | Arts, Etc. Editor
“A fairy tale about a mother’s love, which is able to overcome any obstacles to save her enchanted sons.” Thus begins the description of the Russian fairy tale play “The Two Maples,” from the Theatre for Young Spectators in Khabarovsk, Russia.
Here in the U.S., the story is completely unknown—for now. The Butler University theatre department is putting its finishing touches on the play, which has been adapted by Elaina Artemiev, associate professor of theatre and the director of this production.
The play opens Friday at 7 p.m. in Lilly Hall Room 168.
Artemiev said she first experienced this play as a child in Russia, on a class trip to a children’s theatre, and it was a very moving experience.
Now, she said, she is excited for an American audience to experience the play.
“It’s good literature. It’s good material,” she said. “I think it will be a good discovery for Americans.”
The humorous play follows a mother who has been seeking her sons in the woods for more than two years. The mother, Vasilisa the Hardworker, is drawn to the spot where two maples stand together, and she waits there for her sons.
“She’s very confident in herself, and she doesn’t really have any fear of being in this forest,” said senior theatre major Amanda Reid, who plays Vasilisa. “As long as she gets her sons, it’s all she cares about.”
To save her sons, Vasilisa has to deal with Baba Yaga, a traditional Russian folk character.
Artemiev said Baba Yaga is often seen as completely dark, but this play paints her as layered.
“I think this is not only my idea. I think it exists in Evgeny Shvarts’ play,” Artemiev said. “Vasilisa is able to change Baba Yaga’s chicken-leg house, this mean personage, and we can discover this completely different side.”
Artemiev also said the play speaks to a modern audience and modern society.
Junior Julia Levine, stage manager of “The Two Maples,” said her favorite part of the play is the chicken-leg house, the dwelling of Baba Yaga, which she has seen come to life over the past couple months.
Artemiev said this is one unique part of this production of “The Two Maples.” From what she said she can remember, there were no chicken-leg houses on stage during performances she has seen before.
Levine and Reid also said the play’s humor made it an enjoyable experience to work on.
“I think it’s really fun,” Reid said. “It’s a Russian fairy tale, not something we’re used to seeing. I think it would be really interesting for kids to come and see a whole different type of fairy tale, from a different country, and see how they relate to it.”
Artemiev said she hopes families will see this play together.
“I think it’s important that the whole family can be united during the show, and be a little bit closer after the show,” she said.
“The Two Maples” will be presented at 7 p.m. on April 9-12, 2 p.m. on April 13, 7 p.m. on April 17-19, and 2 p.m. on April 19.