The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood


“The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods” by Collective Unconscious Performance. Photo by Chris Holden.

Collective Unconscious Performance is a local company that is quite small, fairly new, and quite ambitious. They take as their goal “to re-imagine stories from our ‘collective unconscious’ (such as fairy tales or myth) with a bold, contemporary perspective.” With the world premiere of their latest show, The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, they show that they take this goal very seriously.

The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood is a short, fast-paced show. It runs 75 minutes and boasts 8 performers, most of whom go through many rapid role and costume changes. In a flurry of tulle, the players take the audience through a new interpretation of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. Exploring what the titular may have dreamed during her 100-year slumber and what the story looks like if our princess wasn’t exactly thrilled with her prince or her wake-up call. Using dance, song, puppets, and movement, the characters travel through flashbacks, dream worlds, and fantasy to explore Beauty’s mind.

It’s not for everyone, certainly; if you cringe at the words “dance” or “movement”, you should probably look elsewhere. But if, like me, you enjoy something a little unusual and fantastical, something that is alternately funny and serious, ridiculous, decadent, and fabulous (and especially if you like something “magical” but aren’t impressed by the season’s offering of Christmas-related shows) — get thee to Red Eye Theater and give yourself over to the magic.

This world premiere, conceived by Collective Unconscious founers David Hanzal and Kaharine Sherman, feels self-indulgent. It seems like it may all be an excuse for Justin Leaf (Beauty) and friends to dance and swirl around in fun costumes (Fishnets! Tulle! Lingerie! Platinum blond wigs! Corsets!) and be ridiculous. Except that isn’t a criticism; it may be self-indulgent, but Leaf et all are talented performers who are riveting to watch, the costumes are deliciously quirky, and the story is intriguing. If the structure of the show feels a little uneven, it’s hardly noticeable behind the whirlwind pace and dreamy feel of the show.

All in all, The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood feels like a mix of the gender-bending, slightly surrealist feel of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the elegance of a ballet, the raunchy fun of cabaret show, and the magic of a fairy tale.

Personally, I look forward to seeing what else Collective Unconscious Performance comes up with, and I think that the people who read the Rocky Horror/ballet/cabaret/fairy tale description and perked up will LOVE this show.

The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, conceived by David Hanzal & Katharine Sherman, presented by Collective Unconscious Performance, runs December 2-11, 2016 at Red Eye Theater, 15 W 14th St, Minneapolis, MN. Tickets are $15-25 on a sliding scale, with student and senior discounts available. Tickets at the door or at 


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