Carol Ann Duffy, the poet laureate, is to write her first ballet, based on the fairy tale Rapunzel, and has vowed to restore the production to its darker original version as told by the Brothers Grimm.
“Fairy tales are strange and familiar, frightening and reassuring, and provide a map of childhood which we can use as adults to remember who we are,” said Ms Duffy. “Their retelling and reinterpretation is part of the lifeblood of literature.”
Sadler’s Wells theatre in London has commissioned the ballet following a £600,000 grant from the Monument Trust, a charitable body set up by the Sainsbury family. The award is the largest the dance venue has received for new commissions.
Ms Duffy, who was appointed poet laureate in 2009, is known for her re-interpretations of classical myths. Her subjects have included inequality, alienation and oppression. Much of her work explores gender and the female perspective.
This production of Rapunzel will feature a cast of children on stage alongside eight professional dancers. The work will be inspired by the story’s dark central themes: a woman longing for a child; promises and deceit; sexual jealousy; loneliness; vengeance and redemption.
Rapunzel was first published in 1812 as part of a collection of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm.
Ms Duffy’s collaboration with Sadler’s Wells will include working with an array of renowned artists including the choreographer Liv Lorent and costume designer Michele Clapton who worked on the US fantasy television series Game of Thrones.
“Most of us remember Rapunzel’s hair and the tower, but we’re a bit hazy on the rest of the story,” said Ms Lorent. “It’s been told again and again. But we’re telling an older, slightly darker version, more akin to its Grimm tale origins.”
The story will be narrated by the British actress Lesley Sharp and the music will be written by the composer Murray Gold, whose credits include music for Dr Who. It will premiere at the Durham Book Festival in October, tour the UK and is set to open at Sadler’s Wells next March.