Profs and Pints Online presents: “How the Nutcracker Came to Life,” with Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman, former instructors at Ohio State University and co-founders of The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic.
[This talk will remain available in recorded form at the link given here for tickets and access.]
We’ve been telling versions of the story of “The Nutcracker”for more than 200 years, and our cultural attachment to it hasn’t wavered. But many who watch it performed on stage or screen, or hear it played by a symphony, don’t really know much about how the story was originally told, or how it came into being.
Prepare to grab a bowl of chestnuts or sugar plums or whatever you’re snacking on this holiday season and let Profs and Pints Online take you on your own magical journey to learn about the origins of “The Nutcracker” and its characters. Your guides on this scholarly adventure will be Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman, whose fantastic talks on folklore, myths, and legends have earned them a big following among Profs and Pints fans.
They’ll start by looking at the life and work of E.T.A. Hoffman, the writer who started it all with his Christmas fairy tale “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.” We’ll examine what inspired him to write the story, and how he tapped into fragments of existing folklore, the spirit of German Romanticism, and a sense of the uncanny to create the tale’s sugar plum fairies and clockwork castles.
The tale begins on Christmas eve with an extravagant spread of gifts, including a nutcracker. A young girl named Marie, enchanted with the doll, begins an adventure where toys come to life, an evil Mouse King must be defeated, and good and love triumph. Christmas is a time for magic and wonder, and the story that became known simply as “The Nutcracker” joined other holiday stories that have endured in capturing a sense of imagination and whimsy. Like many of the season’s other beloved tales, it also bore a hint of danger.
Sara and Brittany will explore the history of nutcrackers and the fascination—and, sometimes, fear—that dolls inspire. They’ll show you how “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” ties into Hoffman’s other works, and they’ll lead you through some of the adaptations of the story, from theater to film to fashion. In a season when “The Nutcracker” is performed everywhere, their talk will help you derive much more enjoyment from the show.