You’ve probably heard of The Little Prince. It’s one of the most beloved works of children’s literature ever written; but it’s more of an adult fable than a kids’ story. The fanciful French tale was written by poet and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and it’s about the loss of childhood innocence and the pain and beauty of growing up. In the book, a young prince (nothing more than a little boy with superior wisdom) meets a pilot who has crash-landed in a desert on Earth. The prince himself hails from another planet – asteroid B-612, to be exact – and tells the aviator all about his recent intergalactic adventures. The aviator narrates the story in past-tense recollection, lamenting the lack of creative understanding and imagination exhibited by most adults – but recognizing how the mysterious little prince helped him, reminding the aviator to look at the world with a child’s sense of wonder. The Little Prince has been adapted countless times; into films, television, ballet, operatic works, and of course, stage plays.
Genoa Martin, a sophomore at Fort Lewis College, will be playing the lead in the Theatre Department’s production of “The Little Prince,” adapted for the stage by Rick Cummins and John Scoullar, and directed by Ginny Davis, FLC Associate Professor of Theatre. A technical theater major, Martin was also in “Spring Awakening” last semester; but other than that, she’s a college theater novice. We spoke about the unique challenges of adapting “The Little Prince” for the stage, and why adults will love it. “The Little Prince” shows at Fort Lewis College MainStage Theatre on Feb. 19, 20, 21, 25, 26 and 27; all shows start at 7:30 p.m. except for Sunday performances at 3 p.m.
“The Little Prince” seems like a hard book to adapt. Have you read the original? Are there any changes made?
I have; it’s one of my favorite books. In the book version, there’s a couple characters who aren’t in the play, like the drunk guy. It’s a children’s play, obviously.
Is the Little Prince role always played by a girl in the theater version?
No, it’s just something we’re doing. It’s usually an 8- to 12-year-old boy, or sometimes a girl. But I happened to be there. I have to wear a wig and a chest binder, and I have to contour my jaw to make me look more like a 10-year-old boy.
What do you love about this play?
It’s so sweet. “Spring Awakening” was really heavy, emotional, where everything is terrible and everyone dies. This is light-hearted; you can bring your kids to come see it. Both parents and kids will get something out of it. It’s meaningful to everyone who sees it or reads it, there’s something for everyone.
Why do you think adults will like it?
There’s a lot of hidden symbolism. It’s about an aviator who crashes, and the Little Prince is there to help him rediscover his inner child. A lot of grownups lose that. And when they bring their kids to see this, they’re like “awwww.” They get that lost feeling back. Plus, the show is visually stimulating; our tech, the lights, costumes. There’s a 7-yard snake puppet – even if you don’t like anything else, you’ll probably enjoy the light-up snake puppet.
How do you convey the visual, illustrated parts of the book, like when the narrator draws a sheep or the elephant inside a snake?
We have a projection screen, so as the aviator is drawing, the projections are being drawn behind him. That’s really cool.
What were the challenges of the role?
Being a little kid. It’s hard. I slip back into the things I do, which aren’t necessarily what a 10-year-old boy would do. I have to jump around, get impatient, make noises, wiggle. Finding those mannerisms, and always running around and keeping that energy waaaaay above where it needs to be, was really hard. I get tired.
What’s your favorite part about the role?
I get to laugh a lot. It’s not something I have to take seriously or internalize the emotions and really “feel” it, you know? I don’t have to hold a skull. I can just kind of giggle and run around and be goofy. I don’t really get to be goofy a lot anymore.
Anya Jaremko-Greenwold DGO Staff Writer