By MIKE CHAIKEN
They were known as the Cottingley fairies.
The photographs—taken around the time of World War I in Britain— show young girls in the English countryside accompanied by fairies.
The photographs became a media sensation and no less a celebrity than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes tales, wrote about the images.
Years later, when they were well into their 80s, the two women behind the Cottlingley fairies admitted that some of the photos were indeed fakes.
But the women hedged a bit on a full-out confession, claiming that one of the photographs was not faked… leaving the door open to the possibility that fairies do indeed exist.
The play, “The Light Burns Blue,” written by Silva Semerciyan, offers a dramatic take on a story that captured the attention of the world in the early 20th century. The play will be given its American premiere starting Nov. 13 when St. Paul Performing Arts stages the show in Bristol. (The show had its world premiere back in April at the Old Vic in London.)
The play centers on a young girl, Elsie Wright, who, press materials for the show explain, “fools the world into believing she has photographed fairies in her garden.” The story proceeds as “an ambitious young reporter seeks to expose Elsie as a fraud. However, as the reporter looks at the facts she begins to think there’s more to Elsie story than a simple hoax.”
Emily Haase, a ninth grader at St. Paul, will be performing the role of Elsie in the St. Paul production.
“One of the things I enjoy most (about ‘The Light Burns Blue’) is that most of the parts are female, which is hard to find,” said Emily. “I also really like that all of the characters are so well-rounded as are their motives— and they develop very well throughout the story.”
Of her character, Emily said, “I really like Elsie. In a way, she’s extremely innocent and childlike. She means it in the purest kindest way. But there’s all this pain and struggle around her. And she kind of has to learn how to deal with that and learn how she feels about that.”
One of the underlying themes of the story is the importance of believing in magic in the world. There is always room in one’s heart for fairies.
Emily agreed that it is important to keep believing in magic. “I feel like this play points out that life is really hard and difficult and sometimes it’s dark, depressing and sad. And we all need something to believe in that’s why we need to keep magic alive.
Asked what she liked about how St. Paul has approached the story, Emily said, “As a first year student, I’m insanely impressed with how amazing a director Mr. (Mark) Mazzarella is…. He went so much deeper than I did reading through the first couple of times. He’s also putting a magical twist. He’s making sure all the magic and innocence of the story stays alive— without making Elsie looking like the villain.”
Emily said audiences will like “The Light Burns Blue” because “it’s a very interesting story. It goes from funny and light and then it goes into serious and deep. You really get to know the characters as to who they are and you feel connected to them.”
As for being part of the first ever American cast to perform this show, Emily said, “It’s really cool, and kind of nerve-racking.” Not only is the show new to America, but Emily said, “It’s only been performed only a couple of times in the U.K.”
“The Light Turns Blue” features over 40 performing arts students, stage crew and St. Paul’s student orchestra. The play has an original score written by Emmy Award-winning composer, Sean Pallatroni, director of choral and instrumentals at St. Paul Catholic High School.
St. Paul also will feature a young ballerina, Samantha Plourd, who will be performing as the young Elsie Wright through a choreographed piece from choreographer Mark Simpson, director of dance at St. Paul’s and owner of Bristol’s Dance Arts, Inc.
“The Light Turns Blue” will be performed at St. Paul, 1001 Stafford Ave., Bristol on Friday, Nov. 13 and Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. On Nov. 15, in honor of Veteran’s Day 2015, Sunday’s performance of “The Light Burns Blue” will be free for veterans, active duty military, military spouses and their families. There is a limited number of seats and will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis. Military personnel wishing to go must visit
Tickets are available at the door and online at www.spchs.com.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN