“I think it’s funny, I think Sleeping Beauty is more about the story about the prince than it is about Sleeping Beauty,” says Emily Willson, as she picks off the blue and silver body paint that hours previously helped to transform her into a fairy in Samford University’s production of Sleeping Beauty.

“I think it’s about him overcoming his fear of being ‘utterly useless’, as his father told him he was, and proving, not only to the King and Queen and to Briar Rose, but to himself that he does have worth.”

Sleeping Beauty, which ran from October 20, 2016 to October 23, 2016 was the first show to be associated with a new major at the university: Theatre for Youth. The program, which according to Samford’s website, was approved in October of 2015, is a small one, but it has a deep impact on its participants.

Willson is one such participant. She is a sophomore who came into Samford with a theatre major, but changed to the Theatre for Youth program because, “It’s basically learning how to act, direct and teach children’s theatre.”

Willson wants to go into youth ministry, which plays a role in why learning how to do theatre for children is important. “I think an important thing that comes in youth ministry is spreading the Gospel, obviously, and we do that through telling stories, and I think theatre is a wonderful way to tell a story that engages youth specifically.”

In Sleeping Beauty, Willson had the chance to explore a story of love and friendship. Because it was a show for children, the cast spent time focusing on what the moral of their story was.

“I just love the tale of Sleeping Beauty. It’s one of my favorite fairy tales, and I think it’s because of the journey that the prince goes on,” remarked director, Laura Byland, during the talkback after the Sunday afternoon show.  “Whichever tale you read, it really is about the prince having to overcome a great deal of obstacles and growing up and learning about self-sacrifice and understanding what it means to have a friend and ultimately discovering true love.”

And what would a fairy tale be without it’s evil villain? In this production, Modron, a wise woman of the forest, did her best to bring down Briar Rose and Owain. Senior Kendra Ball talked about her character, saying “I think because she has done such things in the past that no one gives her a chance to correct her mistakes. Like at the beginning, she just wants the child to have a companion because the child does not know who she is. The child will accept her and no one else does, so when that’s, when Branwen comes in and just rips the child away, it’s ripping out my second chance, and that hardens me, and I felt very deeply for this character because when the King and Queen pick up that baby for the first time, she could have been mine.”

Even the villain has a story and a role in the narrative that points to some bigger moral: love and friendship can overcome even such obstacles as the Tylweth Teg and the Spider King.