Rachel Ann Harding | Rachel Ann Harding / Boulder, CO / Storyteller, musician, writer, explorer, ukulele trainer

Behind the Story: Crafting Snow White

rackham_snowdrop1“When Snow White was a girl, her step mother came to the castle. She brought with her a beautiful dowry; silks of every color, stones of all shapes and sizes, but the crowning piece was the mirror. It was as tall as a man with beautiful carvings around the edges, and though it was lighter than a child she had four strong men carry it to her room and place it upon her wall.”

I never thought that I would craft the story of Snow White. Everybody knows the story, and everyone knows where it is going to go. It has traveled pathways in the memory and I was not about to bore an audience with my rendition. But then, one afternoon as I was talking things over with Cooper I had a question, “What if the mirror ended up on Snow White’s wall just as we get to happily ever after?”

So began the version that I tell now.

In this version the mirror never speaks. Snow White hears her step-mother say the words “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” But I never have the mirror answer back. One could say that the mirror only speaks in the mind of the step-mother, but with many of the Grimm tales I use magic sparingly and work to find practical ways that these stories happen. Often the story is all that is needed to transport the listener. The storytelling is magic in itself and I don’t need to add anything.

As the story worked its self out I had to really tease out how Snow White ends up in a happy-ever-after situation. My first problem there was the prince. What weirdo would see a comatose girl and think “She would make a great conversation piece for my parlor…or other places in my house.” Creepy… So he had to change his approach. Thus he became a deus ex machina for the dwarves when their darling Snow White succumbs to the third murder attempt. Give that girl a Life Alert pendant! He offers the aid of his physicians, but has none with the hunting party and so they must take her to the castle.

The second problem was the death of the stepmother. How was she going to die? In the original story she is made to put on red hot slippers and dance to death in the snow. And thus we got the macarana. Kidding. Grimm humor. But the problem was either the king was the monster who murdered her, or Snow White was twisted enough to think up red hot shoes. Either one changes where I wanted Snow White to be at the end of the story. So I had to get find another way to “remove” her step-mother. When it is all said and done Cooper gave me an idea that really worked and that is something you will have to listen to the story to find out.

And so eventually I came to the end. How does the mirror end up coming back to haunt Snow White? How does any part of our childhood come back to petrify our souls? Ah, well. I cannot give away all the secrets. I recorded it and it is linked here.

“Mirror mirror, on the wall…”



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