The New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC) under the direction of Stephanie Temple is renowned in San Francisco for its enchanting plays for youth. Temple’s current production, which she wrote and directed, is 'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty' and runs through October 14 at NCTC.
Temple has a wonderful ability to put together such endearing tales that her theatre pieces have become beloved by the public for many years. There is always the opportunity for a young child to audition for the program and on October 7 there were several children that looked on in reverence at the older children, most around 15 years.
This story of 'Sleeping Beauty' has been given a Bollywood twist where the young princess Sabeena has become prey to the goddess Kali. The marriage of Sabeena's parents, Queen Dalaja (Tess Greenham) and King Maandhata (Roman Blum) displeased her so much that she is bent on revenge of their first-born. Sabeena starts to fall for Prince Taj (Julian Holmes) just before this unfortunate circumstance is about to come into play.
At 15, the needle of a spinning wheel will mortally wound Sabeena, true to the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty. In Temple’s arrangement, three benevolent goddesses: Saraswati (Stella Price), Lakshimi (Rebecca Hughes), and Parvati (Lena Galinson) watch over Sabeena and arrange that she will merely fall into a deep sleep. This is a slumber not without enchantment. The goddesses create an obstacle map within Beauty’s subconscious to help get her home including the meeting of a black bearded prince, the elephant headed god Ganesha, and a white mustached prince. They are even able to arrange for Sabeena's new love Prince Taj to appear in the dream to accompany her on her journey home.
This Temple production excels in clever dance arrangements set to Bollywood music with members of the royal family and the goddesses. As in other Temple plays, the young actors double as other characters, such as some of the dream personalities. The incredibly talented Carola Anderson makes the costumes for NCTC youth theatre and in this production the garments of the Indian royalty and dream creatures are stunning.
'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty' is a visionary play that is cinematic like the Indian genre from which the name is derived. The play is an explosion of color, enchantment, dance and music in a journey that clearly appeal to all ages.
The play runs through October 14 at NCTC, 25 Van Ness in San Francisco.