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The Many Incarnations of Maurice Maeterlinck’s “The Blue Bird”


Holiday GUIDE #1 By Kim Taylor


SSU Theatre Publicist


taken on a magical journey to fi nd true meaning of happiness. The 1940 fi lm was a colossal


failure, critically and at the box of- fi ce. The only “happiness” for 20th Century Fox executives were the two Academy Awards nominations the fi lm received for Best Cinema- tography and Best Visual Effects. “The Blue Bird” was retold again in an animated fi lm in 1970; and a joint Soviet-American 1976 fi lm production, directed by George Cukor and starring Elizabeth Tay- lor; and a Japanese television se- ries presented in 1980. Other adaptations include a bal-


(SSU Student Carlos Rodriguez as TYLER with dog TYLO; Photo By David Papas


Cotati, CA. ~ For more than 100 years Maurice Maeterlinck’s fai- rytale “The Blue Bird,” has in- spired generations with its virtues and messages about the true mean- ing of happiness. The story has been retold again and again with various incarnations in several me- diums and translations. Maeterlinck’s allegorical story


follows the magical adventures Mytyl and her brother Tyltyl. Taken on a journey by a good fairy named Berylune, the siblings fi nd a new understanding about compassion and generosity and learn that real happiness is found in simple things and with the contentment of fam- ily love. An award-winning Bel- gian poet, author and playwright, Maeterlinck wrote the children’s play about the pursuit of true hap- piness in 1908. “L’Oiseau bleu” premiered in Moscow in 1908. Translated versions were also pre- sented in England, 1909; in New York, 1910; and in Paris, 1911. After its immediate success, the


play was rewritten in story form and published as a children’s book and is still in print today in several versions and languages. Over the years Maeterlinck’s


fairytale has been translated and produced for large screen presenta- tions including two silent fi lms in 1910 and in 1918. The 1918 silent fi lm version, “The Blue Bird,” di- rected by Maurice Tourneur and produced by Adolf Zukor is still


regarded for its visual and special effects and in 2004 was selected for preservation by the United States Library of Congress and its National Film Registry. In 1939, a special Christmas


Eve presentation of “The Blue Bird,” was presented as a radio play by The Screen Guild Theatre. The broadcast, featuring Shirley Temple and Nelson Eddy, was pro- duced to promote the fi lm debut of the 1940 fantasy fi lm version of “The Blue Bird.” Intended as the 20th Century Fox


box offi ce piggy-back to MGM’s box offi ce hit “The Wizard of Oz,” this black and white and Technicol- or version featured child star Shir- ley Temple as a petulant little girl


let and opera. An operatic version, entitled “L’oiseau blue,” was fi rst performed at the New York Metro- politan Opera in 1919. It was writ- ten by Albert Wolff, and featured a libretto by Maurice Maeterlinck, based on his play. A musical stage version entitled “The Bluebird of Happiness,” premiered in 2013 at the Meralco Theater in Pasig, Phil- ippines. In 2016, the Fitzwilliam Mu-


seum in Cambridge, England pre- sented an exhibit entitled “Chasing Happiness: Maurice Maeterlinck, The Blue Bird and England.” The exhibit featured a display of stage sets created by Frederick Cayley Robinson and Sidney Sime for the 1909 production of the “The Blue Bird,” presented at the Theatre ... continued on page 26


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