A her saving her own self, defying
A whimsical twist from the original “Cinderella” story, “The Ash Girl” emphasises self-actualisation through emotional turmoil on the part of Ashgirl. Therefore, I chose excerpts from Act II Scene 2, where Ashgirl falls prey to Sadness and the Seven Sins, and Act II Scene 10, where she comes to her true self to defeat her most feared monster. I aimed to portray the powerful turn in Ashgirl’s attitude towards Sadness which results in her saving her own self, defying the archetype of fairy tale heroine and zooming into the central theme of self-contentment. Performing Ashgirl has given me more insight of her character’s mindset and internal conflict.
Our play began with the “dark and threatening” (Wertenbaker 52) forest, whose ominosity foreshadows imminent mishaps to the heroine. In European literature, the forest is a metaphorical image of the uncharted where monsters and beastly creatures thrive alongside with human beings. “The Ash Girl” is not any exception. For the stage set, we used two boards draped with black cloth with gloomy lighting to create the hidden and ominous atmosphere.
Using only these two items, we wished to stimulate the audience’s curiosity about the play since it is difficult to speculate about possible scenarios with such a lack of elaborated props. The boards were located downstage where lighting was the dimmest in order to add to sinister vibe of the forest. Our minimalistic setting aimed not only to reflect the mystery of the place but also the mystery of Ashgirl’s psyche. We thought that the forest, besides its significance as potential danger, could also represent her inner mind, where Ashgirl suppresses all her fears and hides in the ashes. The black boards signified her suppression, so they were put behind her. Later on in the play, the monsters would creep out from the boards, further implying that the real horror lies within her own mind. For the entrance of the monsters, we made use of leverage in which Sadness crawled out from below the board, Angerbird approached from the right and Pridefly hovered above to signify that Ashgirl’s nightmares were prowling from all directions with no control. This breach in the heroine’s mentality aimed to highlight her instability and a need for self-actualisation.