'Hansel & Gretel: From Stage to Page' from Simon Armitage | Video of the Week

‘Hansel & Gretel: From Stage to Page’ from Simon Armitage | Video of the Week

This is Video of the Week from Wales Arts Review. We’ll be showcasing some of the best art in Wales with a new video shared every week. From music to drama and everything in between, videos will not be limited by medium. Today’s video is ‘Hansel & Gretel: From Stage to Page’ from Simon Armitage. 

Happy Friday! This week we take a look at ‘Hansel & Gretel: From Stage to Page’, which shows the work that went into the creation of poet laureate Simon Armitage’s ‘Hansel & Gretel: a Nightmare in Eight Scenes’, which first began in 2018. His extended narrative poem uses the well-known Brothers Grimm tale as its backbone, but his work provides a more contemporary interpretation and focus. Armitage’s poem tells a darker, heavier version of Hansel & Gretel, as he incorporates themes of the 21st century, such as refugees and homelessness. He depicts a landscape of horror, but one where humanity, humour and hope exists, too. 

Armitage has teamed up with artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins, who illustrated the entire piece. He has also illustrated other works similar to this, such as Beauty and the Beast. His Hansel & Gretel characters have been made into prints, and have also been made into a Toy Theatre for Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop. The video shows his illustrations reimagined using the imagery of wooden puppets, villages and building blocks to create a contemporary landscape to accompany Armitage’s contemporary narrative poem. In 2019, Armitage’s libretto was published by Design for Today with Hicks-Jenkins’ illustrations; it won the V&A Illustrated Book Award in 2020. 

Speaking on the production, Rian Evans said

“Hansel and Gretel’s plight becomes that of child refugees, whose parents’ agonising decision is to abandon their offspring to give them their only chance of surviving war. Armitage took his cue from the darkly imaginative illustrations by artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins, who has now translated the original visions into a puppet show. Armitage’s words are the constantly shining white pebbles guiding the piece, and his final verbal riff on light and dark will be even better savoured on the published page.”

You can watch this week’s video, ‘Hansel & Gretel: From Stage to Page’, below.