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'Beanstalk Variations': Family Fun in a New Take on an Old Tale

KEENE, NH, 3/17/03 - Figures of Speech Theatre will present its own interpretation of the Jack and the Beanstalk tale when it performs The Beanstalk Variations at Keene State College’s Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond. Scheduled for two performances on April 5 at 2 and 7:00 p.m., Beanstalk Variations is recommended for ages eight and older.

Actors Michael Rafkin and John Farrell, joined on stage by a cast of puppets, provide a fresh perspective on the traditional fairy tale of Jack’s encounter with a most unfriendly giant. Direction by Avner “The Eccentric” Eisenberg of Broadway fame insures that the performance will be full of physical comedy for all ages.

Farrell, the co-director of the company, explains, “When we embarked on creating the script for Beanstalk Variations it was our intention that it would also be appealing to adults. Much of the humor is directed to adults as well as children.”

In Beanstalk Variations Jack has a problem - a “Giant” problem. Every night he dreams he’s on stage playing a harp when suddenly an enormous hand crashes through the ceiling and snatches him away. What can that possibly mean? Guided by the eccentric psychiatrist Dr. Blaukopf, Jack gives reality the Freudian slip and discovers that he can live in a fairy tale; all you have to do is trade in your cow for five magic beans.

Never satisfied with a surface treatment, Figures of Speech uncovers the real meat on the bones of this story. Approaching Jack’s three ascents to the land of the giants as an empowering spirit journey, they treat his victory over the giant as a victory over one’s own greed. This is accomplished with the addition of several songs including “FeeFiFoFum Means I Love You” and Jack’s cowboy-style “Lament for Milky White.”

Tickets for Beanstalk Variations are $10 for the general public, $7 for seniors, KSC faculty and staff, $7 for youth 17 and younger, and $5 for KSC students with ID. Tickets may be obtained by calling the Brickyard Pond box office, 603-358-2171 or on the web at Call the box office for special group rates for parties of 10 or more.

The performance is made possible through funding from the New England Foundation for the Arts, with additional support from the six New England State arts agencies, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Figures of Speech is an internationally acclaimed touring theater based in Freeport, Maine. The company had a 24-show run at the Smithsonian Institution last year, and has just returned from a six-month residency in Japan. In 2001, following its successful run at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., The Beanstalk Variations was awarded the UNIMA Citation of Excellence, the highest award given in American puppet theater.

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