By Annie Stockmal and Rebecca Amrick
On Sept. 24, Graduate Assistants Rebecca Amrick and Annie Stockmal attended a performance of Villanova Theatre’s 2023-2024 season debut, Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea, and we invite you to do the same!
Born largely out of oral storytelling tradition, fairy tales have been reimagined and retold to fit the tastes of audiences of the time. The stories written, or written down by, author Hans Christian Andersen are no exception. His tale “The Little Mermaid,” originally published in the Dutch Eventyr, Fortalte for Børn. Første Samling. or Fairy Tales Told for Children. First Collection., has inspired countless retellings, including a ballet, two Disney movies, and numerous theatrical productions.
Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea, written by Julia Izumi, is one such reimagining of Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” with a few new twists.
Here are Annie and Rebecca’s unique takes on the play:
Annie: Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea is both about reimaginings and a reimagining itself. It explores the how works can get changed and distorted from the original, but that’s not exactly a bad thing.
Rather than separating the art from the artist, Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea demonstrates how the artist is interwoven with their art. The connection between the artist and their art is, at times, thinly veiled and nearly inseparable. When their art is retold by another, another thread is woven in. In other words, Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea can be read as an ode to reimaginings. An old story gets a new ending, or perhaps circles back to the original, and that’s ultimately a beautiful thing. Artists inspire artists. It has a little bit of Hans Christian Andersen, a little bit of playwright Julia Izumi, and a little bit of the breadcrumbs left by others who have retold this classic tale.
Despite wearing masks for the performance, the actors (and, of course, Director James Ijames, Dramaturg Dory Scott, and every other artist who had a hand in this production) were truly able to bring life to this play.
Rebecca: Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea is a fun production that combines reimagining with biography. Beginning as a twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” the play soon breaks traditional storytelling format with multiple fourth-wall breaks and characters acting independently of their creator. Within the chaos of this spiraling story are snippets of Andersen’s own life and struggles. These brief scenes serve to showcase how the writer’s own life influenced his work, a theme made even more clear by direct comparisons between Andersen and “The Little Mermaid.” Overall, a humorous and thoughtful production that honors a past writer and generates excitement for the future of stories and retellings.
To learn more about Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea and its cast and crew, check out this virtual playbill.
To explore fairy tales and Hans Christian Andersen with the Dramaturgs, Emma Drennen and Dory Scott, check out the production’s Dramaturgy website.
In the education guide, you can find prompts to spark up reflection and discussion after the show.
If you want to read “The Little Mermaid” and other Hans Christian Andersen tales, check out Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen, translated by Patricia L. Conroy and Sven H. Rossel, available online through Falvey.
If you want to learn more about the man behind the fairy tales, read Andersen’s autobiography The True Story of my Life, translated by Mary Howitt, available online through Falvey.
Tickets for Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea are available for purchase here. Get yours now!
Annie Stockmal is a second-year graduate student in the Communication Department and Graduate Assistant in Falvey Library.
Rebecca Amrick is a first year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.
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