Tin Soldier

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DOI: 10.5040/9781911501626.00000051

A new adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Steadfast Tin Soldier. It is essentially written as a short epic poem. The play attempts to stay true to the original, while exploring some of the hidden meanings in new sometimes provocative, frequently funny and entertaining, but always truthful ways. The original Hans Christian Andersen tale is certainly one of his lesser-known and darker pieces. The story revolves around an unwanted one-legged tin toy who spends his time staring silently at a lovely paper dancer who seems to fulfil his every need – in his mind at least. When he falls out of the nursery window, he is carried on a series of exciting and frightening adventures. Initially, abused by street urchins then menaced by a giant rat, he gets lost in a storm, swallowed by a giant fish and caught by fisherman. Finally, the tin soldier is returned to the nursery as part of a meal of cooked fish, whereupon he is carelessly thrown into a blazing fire by an unthinking child, and perishes. His only consolation is that the paper dancer joins him in a mutual consummation – or should it be conflagration? Yet steadfast he remains throughout: steadfast, silent and brave. Noël Greig was very clear in his belief that the story had enormous significance for Andersen and spoke greatly about the hidden meanings as expressed simply in that short story. For Greig, Andersen’s latent homosexuality and his difficulties in forming relationships with both men and women were key to the reading of this piece. He felt strongly that Andersen was trying to tell his readers something about himself and the dangers of unrequited love, the pain of being ‘steadfast and true’ and the seeming pointlessness of life, love and longing, all leading to a dangerous rollercoaster of a journey with the hope for salvation often dashed in the flames of disappointment. It is beautifully written, very moving and rather sad, especially relevant to the world today. The ability of our consumer society to throw away objects of great value and to reject people and their creations in a superficial and careless way, cannot have been far from Noël Greig’s mind as he wrote his final play.

From Tin Soldier and Other Plays for Children

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Aurora Metro Books

Noel Greig and David Johnston

ISBN: 9781906582197

Series: Aurora Metro Books

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