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Christina Beam – In the Woods

    Bringing to life a theoretical design for Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, while stuck in the Covid woods


    When the pandemic struck and I lost all of my theatre work I was at a loss for what to do. A filmmaker friend and I decided to embark on a covid-safe project to keep ourselves creatively engaged and to help us work through our fear of what would become of our artforms. We decided to do a photography series of fairy tale characters whose costumes looked like they were made from the pages of their storybooks, based on a theoretical design of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods that I had done for one of my graduate design classes. Each shoot would take place in an outdoor location with just the two of us and one actor. As the pandemic situation improved we were able to expand some of our later shoots to include a makeup artist and multiple actors, but we still kept all of the shoots outdoors. The construction of the costumes was RARE because I built all of the costumes and accessories using paper products including printer paper, Tyvek, poster board, cardstock and cardboard. Initially I considered having the text printed on fabric but the cost was prohibitive and I had to adapt. The project evolved beyond showcasing the Into the Woods characters and we began to explore our own interpretations and re-imaginings of the characters across different iterations that we had grown up with–we even added a few characters who were not in Into the Woods. The casting of this project was RARE because we felt that in reimagining these characters and in depicting a fantastical world, we had both an opportunity and a responsibility to make sure that world was an inclusive one. We cast most of the actors from within my artistic community–friends and collaborators from past projects, folks who made my heart jump when I pictured them wearing the costumes and playing the characters. We have shared the series through social media and received a positive response. Now that it feels safe to gather we hope to produce an interactive gallery/performance exhibit with some of the actors performing small vignettes alongside the photos.

    Production Credits

    Various outdoor locations in Western Massachusetts and Vermont

    Playwright – James Lapine
    Composer/Lyricist – Stephen Sondheim
    Photographer – Ben Tobin
    Makeup Artist – Sarah Talaid

    Actors featured in Photos

    Kyle Boatwright – Ugly Stepsister
    Faolain Bobersky – The Witch
    Ripley Dresser – Little Red Riding Hood
    Ethan Gourlay – Snow White
    Elizabeth Goncalves – Sleeping Beauty
    Ethan Hannon – Jack
    Julie Nelson – Witch from Hansel and Gretel
    Carolyn Parker-Fairbain – The Swan Maiden
    Gaven Trinidad – Prince Charming
    Linda Tardif – Ugly Stepsister
    Liv Taylor – Gretel
    Finn Taylor – Hansel