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The Blue Bird (Original Five Act Version) (1909) [Acting Edition] Kindle Edition
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The play’s story is about two peasant children, Tyltyl and Mytyl, who are awakened from their sleep by Berylune, a fairy who urges them to seek the blue bird of happiness. Accompanied by their faithful dog and dubious cat, and assisted by personifications of Light, Water, Fire, Sugar, and Bread, the children travel throughout a dream landscape where they meet numerous (and sometimes dangerous) creatures that include dead family members, spirits of joy and happiness, deceptive personifications of pleasure, and the spirits of children yet to be born. They capture several birds, but none of them are the blue bird, which they only find when they awaken from these vivid dreams with a greater appreciation of the world around them.
Maeterlinck endows the play with considerable stage direction and description, and what he describes is so lavish in terms of design and special effects that it is difficult to imagine how any staging of the play could live up to the script. In spite of its previous popularity, contemporary theatre regards it with a ho-hum attitude, and it is perhaps best known to film buffs as the basis for two films—a 1940 Hollywood production starring Shirley Temple and a 1976 American/Soviet production directed by George Cukor and starring the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Fonda, and Ava Gardner—that were legendary disasters. Maeterlinck received the 1911 Nobel Prize for Literature, but his fame has tarnished over the years, and even in its original form, THE BLUEBIRD has an extremely saccharine, extremely “twee” quality, and it is best read as a historical window onto the theatre of the early 20th Century. This is indeed a writer and a play whose moment has truly passed.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
There was an attempt to do this with Shirley Temple that failed miserably. I'd seen it about 12 years before reading this play. The only thing that remains true is the world of unborn children- the only scene I remembered from the movie. The Shirley Temple movie changes the lead characters and eliminates most of the supporting cast, so it doesn't feel like the same story. I chose this book because of the prestigious awards this author has won. At least half the book is worth reading. You may not want to finish it, but as it won't cost you anything to try, why not pick it up?