Tam Lin and Other Journeys

Written by Taylor Rasmussen (COL ‘16)

Directed by Mar Cox (COL ‘16)

She confronts the Queen of the fairies.

He watches the ghostly ravens circle overhead.

They wait to be rescued at sea.

Cast (in order of appearance)

Joshua Street (COL '15) as Willie of Winsbury

Lisette Gabrielle (COL '17) as Janet

Kellan Oelkers (COL '21) as Tam Lin

Thomas Schuman (COL '17) as The Mortal King

Michaela Farrell (COL '18) as Sir Patrick Spens

Kate Clark (COL '21) as Raven William

Caleb Lewis (COL '16) as Raven Margaret

Thea Belle Flanzer (COL '24) as The Cabin Kid

Nora Elena Genster (SFS '16) as The Fairy Queen

Hannah Walker (COL '12) as Raven Brand

Caitlin Frazier (COL '23) as The Ferry King

Creative Team

Written by Taylor Rasmussen (COL ‘16)

Directed by Mar Cox (COL ‘16)

Dramaturgy by Kathryn de la Rosa and Marion Cassidy (COL '23)

Stage Management by Michael Donnay (COL '16)

Content Warnings: Internalized homophobia, internalized transphobia, misgendering, deadnaming, discussion of death, mention of suicide, mention of Christianity, mention of paganism, physical transformation, fear

Audience Guide

What are the Child Ballads?

Francis James Child (1825 - 1896) was an American scholar, historian, educator, and folklorist. He is best known for his collected anthology of traditional English and Scottish ballads. Child defined the “popular ballad” as a form of ancient folk poetry, composed within the oral tradition and bearing the stamp of the preliterate peoples of the British Isles.

Despite having been anthologized in his lifetime, these "Child Ballads," as they are called today, may date back to the sixteenth century or before. Popular folk ballads generally weren't thought important enough to write down, and as literacy rates rose within Britain, oral traditions began to fall out of favor. Child, for that reason, was one of the first to create a written record of these songs.

 

Because of their rich oral histories, most of the Child Ballads exist in several iterations. Lyrics, names, relationships, and even endings can vary from version to version. 

Our Journeys

Language and Identity 

The ways in which we discuss identity today differ greatly from the ways in which personhood was conceptualized during Child's lifetime and before. Until recently, our actions were simply our actions, and they didn't reflect "who we were" in any meaningful way. In other words, the notion of "having" an identity is relatively new.

Sometimes, giving names to our identities - e.g., queer, transgender, straight, cisgender, person of Color, etc. - is productive, and fulfilling, and can help us discover both ourselves and our communities. Sometimes, by contrast, labeling ourselves and others in these ways can create unhelpful divides. Regardless, it's true that when these popular ballads were first passed down in Britain, the concept of queer identity didn't exist. There was no underlying identity attached to the the king in the ballad Willie of Winsbury, for example, even when the king says "...if I was a woman, as I am a man /
My bedfellow you would have been."

While Tam Lin and Other Journeys does not seek to prescribe identity where originally there was none, it does seek to ask questions about our collective history, and about those who came before; after all, people on the margins and people caught in-between have always existed.

Further Reading

"Hundreds Of Years Old, These Songs Tour Like New" (NPR, 2013) - An audio story and interview with Anais Mitchell (of Hadestown acclaim) and Jefferson Hamer about their collaborative, contemporary album of Child Ballads.

https://www.childballadrecordings.com/ - An extensive database including hundreds of recordings from across the entire catalog of Child Ballads.

The Modern Fairies Podcast - A release from the University of Oxford, in which scholars Carolyne Larrington and Fay Hield introduce the themes of traditional British tales about fairies - such as the Other World, fairy lovers, fairies and children, helpful fairies, monsters, alternative time and space, and magical transformation. The podcast is "a unique collaboration between leading songwriters, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers and researchers to develop exciting new work, presenting fresh perspectives on what folklore means to us in the modern world."

Watch this space for more!