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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rapunzel Kick-Off Meeting Videos

Several participants in the Rapunzel/ in perpetuum/forever collaborative residency at Queens College Art Center gathered on January 20, 2012 to discuss the significance of the story of Rapunzel (click here for video Part I)) and some ideas about process and logistics (click here for video Part II) related to the project. We started the meeting by reading one version of the story of Rapunzel out loud:

"When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut her into a tower, which lay in a forest, and had neither stairs nor door, but quite at the top was a little window.  When the enchantress wanted to go in, she placed herself beneath it and cried: 

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, 
let down your hair to me.”

Rapunzel had magnificent long hair, fine as spun gold, and when she heard the voice of the enchantress she unfastened  her braided  tresses, wound them round one of the hooks of the window above, and then the hair fell twenty ells down, and the enchantress climbed up by it. 

After a year or two, it came to pass that the king's son rode through the forest and passed by the tower. Then he heard a song, which was so charming that he stood still and listened.  This was Rapunzel, who in her solitude passed her time in letting her sweet voice resound.  The king's son wanted to climb up to her, and looked for the door of the tower, but none was to be found. He rode home, but the singing had so deeply touched his heart, that every day he went out into the forest and listened to it.  Once when he was thus standing behind a tree, he saw that an enchantress came there, and he heard how she cried: 

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
let down your hair.”

Then Rapunzel let down the braids of her hair, and the enchantress climbed up to her.  If that is the ladder by which one mounts, I too will try my fortune, said he, and the next day when it began to grow dark, he went to the tower and cried: 

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
let down your hair”. 

Immediately the hair fell down and the king's son climbed up. At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man, such as her eyes had never yet beheld, came to her.  But the king's son began to talk to her quite like a friend, and told her that his heart had been so stirred that it had let him have no rest, and he had been forced to see her.  Then Rapunzel lost her fear, and when he asked her if she would take him for her husband, and she saw that he was young and handsome, she thought, he will love me more than old dame gothel does.  And she said yes, and laid her hand in his. She said, I will willingly go away with you, but I do not know how to get down.  Bring with you a skein of silk every time that you come, and I will weave a ladder with it, and when that is ready I will descend, and you will take me on your horse.  

They agreed that until that time he should come to her every evening, for the old woman came by day.  The enchantress remarked nothing of this, until once Rapunzel said to her, tell me, dame gothel, how it happens that you are so much heavier for me to draw up than the young king's son - he is with me in a moment.  Ah. You wicked child, cried the enchantress.  What do I hear you say.  I thought I had separated you from all the world, and yet you have deceived me.  In her anger she clutched Rapunzel's beautiful tresses, wrapped them twice round her left hand, seized a pair of scissors with the right, and snip, snap, they were cut off, and the lovely braids lay on the ground. And she was so pitiless that she took poor Rapunzel into a desert where she had to live in great grief and misery. 

On the same day that she cast out Rapunzel, however, the enchantress fastened the braids of hair, which she had cut off, to the hook of the window, and when the king's son came and cried: “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair”, she let the hair down. The king's son ascended, but instead of finding his dearest Rapunzel, he found the enchantress, who gazed at him with wicked and venomous looks. Aha, she cried mockingly, you would fetch your dearest, but the beautiful bird sits no longer singing in the nest.  The cat has got it, and will scratch out your eyes as well.  Rapunzel is lost to you.  You will never see her again.  

The king's son was beside himself with pain, and in his despair he leapt down from the tower.  He escaped with his life, but the thorns into which he fell pierced his eyes.  Then he wandered quite blind about the forest, ate nothing but roots and berries, and did naught but lament and weep over the loss of his dearest wife. Thus he roamed about in misery for some years, and at length came to the desert where Rapunzel, with the twins to which she had given birth, a boy and a girl, lived in wretchedness. He heard a voice, and it seemed so familiar to him that he went towards it, and when he approached, Rapunzel knew him and fell on his neck and wept. Two of her tears wetted his eyes and they grew clear again, and he could see with them as before. He led her to his kingdom where he was joyfully received, and they lived for a long time afterwards, happy and contented."

This lead to a discussion of the story including these questions: Is the Enchantress an evil manipulator or just protecting her beautiful, innocent treasure? Does Rapunzel's mother really not want her child or to be a mother at all? Is Rapunzel a wise-ass? What does our hair style say about us? Why should you let your baby's hair grow for as long as possible? Why is hair on your head beautiful, but once it is cut or falls out almost repulsive? Why are these children's stories really so violent and frightening?

Finally, we talked over questions about the project itself: Does anyone know what they are going to do for the "Rapunzel in the Library" project? How do you get to Queens College Art Center? (you can't exactly practice, practice, practice....) Are you following "Rapunzelsays" on Twitter? Have you signed up for Googledocs, "forever"? Does anyone know any actors? Where can I rent a pink stretch Hummer?

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