As a kid of the 80’s, I’m pretty sure I wore out at least one VHS copy of Disney’s The Little Mermaid during my childhood. However, the cultural impact of Ariel and her crew is not limited to my generation—the fact is it’s nearly impossible to have had/been a child in the past 3 decades and not know The Little Mermaid.
That’s because, amidst the catchy songs and ground-breaking visuals, the story of The Little Mermaid revolves around ideas that resonate with all of us—meeting strangers and new ideas not with hostility but curiosity, striving to measure up to our parent’s expectations while expressing ourselves in our own unique ways, being an active in defining what our happiness looks like and not letting others do it for us, but most importantly, finding a place where we truly belong.
Ariel and imaginative understanding of “the world above,” its inhabitants, and their “human stuff” in part inspired me to find the place where I belonged—the theatre, a place where the imagination reigns. If Ariel can reimagine a fork as a dinglehopper, a pipe as a snarfblatt, and herself as a human, what can we do with our imaginations? So, for our production, my cast, designers, and I tried to harness the limitless possibilities the theatre—to make a piece of Total Theatre in which we see the world through Ariel’s eyes.
Photo Credit: Aaron Street and Aaron Wallis, Southern Arkansas University.