The Middle Kingdom
The theatrical debut of The Middle Kingdom by Dalrymple had its world premier in Grass Valley, California February 19th 2015 at the Center For The Arts.
Make Believe is an archetypal fairy tale which studies the duel nature of darkness and light. It takes place in a late 19th century dilapidated orphanage run by the negligent, Agnes Pumpernickel. Within its decayed and moldering walls live six eccentric sisters, Wendel, Wanda, Winky, Florence, Fern and Fand. Little do the sisters realize they are actually otherworldly daughters of a goodly Fairy, Theodora Willowand.
Out of pure spite, Theodora’s Malevolent twin brother, Thistlethorn Witherwand, kidnaps his nieces and brings them through the veil, leaving them on the battered steps of Agnes’s orphanage. There he disguises himself as the gardener, Alfred Abernathy, keeping a scrupulous eye on the girls to ensure they never discover the true nature of their origins.
Meanwhile Theodora inadvertently sacrifices her eyesight in order to summon the mystical guardian of each daughter and one by one The Green Man, The Great God Pan, GogMagog, Willy Wonka and Baba Yaga pierce through the veil and bring the girls home. Thistlethorn’s poisonous intentions became ever more sinister as the sisters begin to disappear. By the end, Thistlethorn and Theodora succumb to their fate by drinking of each other’s tears. Each twin dies the death of one dimensionality, unashamed of the light and unafraid of the dark.
"Children grow up believing whole heartily in the most unbelievable things. So how is it we ever lose faith in the power of our imagination? My wish with Make Believe is to remind the audience, magic not only exists, it also contains an inescapable soul, which has in fact never left us. I began writing the play with its six characteristic sisters and soon after I was surprised to learn that a similar family of six sisters did in fact live next door to two of the most imminent folklorists of the 19th century; the Brothers Grimm.
From these sisters the brothers collected many of the fairy tales we know of today such as Rumpelstilzchen, The Singing Bone, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, etc. This strangely synchronistic turn of events has made me believe there is a deeper meaning guiding the Make Believe fairy tale. In a humble effort to thank these women for sharing their enduring and enchanting stories, I graciously dedicate Make Believe to The Sisters Wild."
Theodora Willowand - Represents all that is purity and goodness. She is the mother of six daughters and twin sister to Thistlethorn.
Thistlethorn Witherwand - Represents all that is poison and malevolence. Twin Brother to Theodora.
Wendel - The eldest of the six sisters, A painter and mother hen.
Wanda - The oddball whose language is one of riddles.
Winky - The prim and proper toadstool tea drinker.
Florence - The flowery footed cartwheeling dancer.
Fern - The salt pinching superstitious finger crosser.
Fand - The definition of bookworm.
Agnes Pumpernickel - The proprietor of the lonely Bird Nest Orphanage.
Alfred Abernathy - Gardner at The Lonely Bird Nest orphanage.
Willoughby Wisp - The lantern man of Wicken Fen.
The Green Man - Disgorger of Midsummer destinies.
The Great God Pan - Arcadian piper at the gates of dawn.
GogMagog - British beanstalk giants of cosmic dimensions.
Willy Wonka - The ineffable chocolate trickster ferryman.
Baba Yaga - The chicken foot dwelling mother of iron teethed witches.
THE MIDDLE KINGDOM
The Middle Kingdom takes place In the heroic age of Ireland, before the coming of Christianity. It concerns the trials and tribulations of The High King Eochaid as he searches for the one thing to make his kingdom complete, a Queen. After finding Etain, the daughter of a great chieftain, swimming with her maidens in an enchanted lake, the King is so taken by her incredible beauty and grace, he proposes to her right then and there. Although she agrees, not all is as it seems. Soon strange events unravel in a most unexpected way.
Beyond the fields we know lies Etain's true husband, the otherworldly God Midir, who has spent nearly an age searching disconsolately for his beloved. After she was cursed by Midir's first wife, Fuamnach and set adrift on the winds of ill luck, Etain was reborn a mortal maid, over a thousand years after her first birth in the otherworld. It is this mortal maid which Midir has come to claim as his own and take back with him. Etain demands proof of Midir's claim and so after completing a serious of impossible tasks set by the King, Midir uses simple trickery and outwits Eochaid into giving up Etain. The lovers are reunited at last and before anyone can stop them, Midir and Etain fly off in the form of two white swans, never to be beholden by the eyes of mortals ever again.
"The Middle Kingdom is based upon the early Irish myth, Tochmarc Étaíne, or The Wooing of Étaín. It is preserved in the 12th century Lebor na hUidre, or Book of The Dun Cow, yet was recorded in the Gaelic language roughly dating to the 8th century. I was inspired to bring this lesser known of Irish tales to light after delving into the dramatic works of of the Irish writer, W. B. Yeats. Before this I had only known of Yeats as a poet, only after I became immersed in his plays and the imagery and purpose they evoked, I set out to write my first play. At the time Yeats was writing for the stage the epic sagas of Ireland were being slowly submerged under the crippling weight of industry and so called progress. Yeats, along with his contemporaries of the time, began not only safeguarding the literary treasures of their nation, they breathed new life into the pages of history and heralded a new dawn for the Celtic spirit.
So lest these stories fall into the unintelligible fragmentary wayside of our current era, I have chosen to continue the tradition of keeping myth alive and so have dedicated my first play to the lasting memory of William Butler Yeats."
Etain - Born between two worlds, Etain is wife to both the mortal High King of Ireland, Eochaid and the otherworldly God Midhir.
Midir - An Otherworldly being of great noble bearing, son of the Dagda of the Tuatha Dé Danann.
Eochaid Feidlech - The High King of Ireland, his name translates as The enduring one. Father to Queen Medb.
Ailill - Brother to the High King Eochaid.
Fuamnach - Sorceress of The Tuatha Dé Danann. First wife of Midir and rival of Etain.
Amergin mac Eccit - Court poet & harper to the High King Eochaid.
Aos sí - The otherworldly inhabitants of Ireland who assist in various magical labors throughout the play.