Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

News Release

Contact: David W. Booth, NIU School of Theatre and Dance
(815) 753-1337

September 7, 2006

NIU presents Andrew Lang fairy tales

DeKalb, Ill. — Following its world tour, including St. Petersburg and the Moscow Art Theatre in Russia, Romania, and, finally, the New American Theater in Rockford, Northern Illinois University’s School of Theatre and Dance professional company, SummerNITE, unpacks its real and proverbial bags at its university home in DeKalb to remount its production of “Leaves from a Fairy Book.”

Opening September 21st at the O’Connell Theatre, Christopher Markle’s adaptation of three fairy tales from Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books, published between 1889 and 1910, includes East of the Sun, West of the Moon, The Grateful Beasts, and Toads and Diamonds. The fairy tales are Norse, Hungarian, and French, respectively, and represent Lang’s far-reaching search for the stories that all cultures pass from generation to generation and filled 13 volumes over a 20-year period.

In the preface of the Lilac Fairy Book, published in 1910, Lang wrote, “Nobody really wrote most of the stories. People told them in all parts of the world long before Egyptian hieroglyphics or Cretan signs or Cyprian syllabaries, or alphabets were invented. They are older than reading and writing, and arose like wild flowers before men had any education to quarrel over. The grannies told them to the grandchildren, and when the grandchildren became grannies they repeated the same old tales to the new generation.”

Markle fondly remembers his own collection of fairy books, and is a true aficionado of the fairy tales he read as a child. He made certain his adaptation was true to Lang’s published version.

“In approaching Leaves from a Fairy Book – as both adapter and director – I did not want to sanitize the stories or rob them of complexity,” Markle says. “At the same time, I did not want to turn them into Greek tragedy, to which, in some cases, fairy stories can be strikingly similar.”

Accordingly, Markle suggests the production is most appropriate for ages 8 and up. No one under the age of 5 will be admitted to the O’Connell Theatre.

Traveling to Russia on a limited budget also influenced how the production took its final form.

“Given the limits of our financial resources,” Markle explains, “we have had to function as a theatre in a suitcase, or in a number of suitcases.”

“In staging these stories, I have tried to focus on the magic of the actor: we have attempted to use a minimum of technical devices and a maximum of imagination to realize these fantastic tales. Along with the considerable aesthetic reasons for this, I was also motivated by the practical demands of touring these pieces.”

“Leaves from a Fairy Book” runs September 21 to 24, and 27 through October 1 at Northern Illinois University’s Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre. The Stevens Building and its three theatres are located directly behind the McDonald’s and Pizza Hut restaurants on west Lincoln Highway.

Weeknights and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. with Sunday performances starting at 2 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adults, $8 for seniors and $7 for students. For tickets and additional information, call the Stevens Building Box Office at (815) 753-1600 or go online at

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