Was glass slipper really a slip-up?
THE world of theatre is steeped in superstitions, mythologies and magic. Nowhere is this truer than in the wonderful, quintessentially English tradition of pantomime.
The origins of this year’s spectacular SDC family panto, Cinderella, right, can be traced back to 7BC when the philosopher Strabo recounted the story of Rhodopis, a Greek slave girl who marries the Egyptian King.
The story was popularised in literary form by the Brothers Grimm’s Aschenputtel, which featured in their iconic anthology of Fairy Tales in 1812.
An adaptation of the tale was brought to the big screen by Disney in a classic animated feature of 1950 and a modernised live action version in 2015 was directed by Little Theatre Guild patron Kenneth Branagh.
The notion of the glass slipper was introduced in the 1697 story of Cendrillion, by French writer Charles Perrault.
This version also notable for the inclusion of a pumpkin and a fairy godmother.
But, did he intend the slipper to be glass?
There is great debate and, of the various theories, four stand out.
In Perrault’s story the text refers to a “pantoufle de verre”, which translates as glass slipper, but some claim this is a misprint or a mishearing.
“Verre”, meaning “glass”, sounds similar to both “vert”, French for the colour “green” and “vair”, meaning “fur”.
A green silk slipper is certainly more practical, but a squirrel fur slipper is arguably more credible, as this is a luxury item of the time and an indication of prestige.
A third theory is found further back in time where earlier stories of the slave girl wooing Royalty at an opulent dance feature an amber slipper.
Roman authors Pliny and Tacitus both use the word “glaesum” to refer to amber.
Could it be that Perrault mistook this for a reference to glass and subsequently mistranslated it himself?
The final theory is that Perraut intentionally introduced glass in his story; a useful ploy so one could shatter, leaving a solitary slipper for the Prince’s hunt for his mysterious maiden.
Which is your favourite theory – should Cinderella’s shoe be made of green silk, squirrel fur, amber or finest crystal glass?
Let us know by visiting our Facebook page – facebook. com/SouthportLittleTheatre and checking out the pinned post.
One person who comments, chosen at random, will win tickets for a family of four for the performance on New Year’s Day!
See Facebook for further information and details on how to enter!
Cinderella opens on Thursday, December 20 and runs until Sunday, January 6.
Contact the box office on 01704 530 521/530 460 to buy tickets and for any further details.
The Cinderella cast in rehearsal, with Molly Wilkinson as Cinderella