Twisted Tales is a transmedia take one the familiar fairy tales told through a webisode (6 x 12’), an animated TV series (26 x 12’), an educational story apps and an AR experience.
Through a selection of six fairy tales (Twisted Tales), our intent is to tackle six different stigmas (physical, mental, racial, sexual, social status, gender identity). Each fairy tale episode is a stand-alone story, re-telling a familiar fairy tale through the prism of a stigma. The first tale in the series of Twisted Tales is Cinda Real (our take on Cinderella), a story about a girl who is stigmatized for having only one leg. Cinda Real offers a new and empowering perspective on the well-known story by introducing the stigma of physical disability into the narrative. Sexual stigma is told through the story of a Sleeping Girls (our take on Sleeping Beauty). Mental disability is explored in the new version of Rapunzel called Real Punzel, and racial stigma is woven into the story of The Not So Ugly Duckling (our take on Ugly Duckling).
Social status stigma is problematized in the re-imagined Midas Touch our Golden Touch, and gender identity stigma becomes the subject of The Princess and the Real Frog.
The reason we are choosing well-known fairy tales and characters rather than telling new stories in order to explore these stigmas is to provide a familiar entry point for the child watching/interacting with it, which then helps in the navigation of this world which is at the same time familiar and yet has new and unexpected narrative developments.
By presenting the stigmas within the familiar narratives of fairy tales, we raise the awareness for the stigma in question and educate children and parents on how to ‘de-stigmatise’ the stigma. This way, both those that witness someone being stigmatized and those who have suffered from being stigmatized will be able to recognize first the stigma and its harmful effect and secondly, they will be shown ways to overcome the stigma (from within as well as socially).
The project started in 2014 with a participatory exhibition called Stigmarella – The Story about a Girl and a Shoe. The exhibition took place in the Monument Protection Center in Ljubljana, Slovenia, as part of BIO50, Biennale of Design, Ljubljana and was accompanied by several roundtable events. A parallel research showed that the majority of parents and nursery teachers were impressed by the quality of the educational approach and requested the full version of the animated fairytale that was an integral part of the exhibition. Based on the research data and local appreciation we have reinvented the project and designed Twisted Tales as a transmedia story told through the medium of animated webisodes and TV fairytale format (6x24min), an educational story apps and a VR exhibition.
We believe that for a transmedia project to succeed, it has to be participatory, with the participation meaningful for everyone involved, which is why the project was, from the outset, developed and executed through contributions, from both children and their parents.
The animation process started with a series of workshop in which children created illustrations, sound, and animation. Children in different age groups, varying from 2 to 10, were inspired to visualize a princess, a castle, animals and a prince that is as childish as they are and is allowed to be dirty or have a hole in their pants. Separate parts of the body, objects or the environment were taken out from various children’s illustrations and merged into one single character or object. This approach means the end users – the children – have a co-creative and participatory role from the very outset of the project. So from an early age, they are shown the value of teamwork and co-creation as opposed to solitary creation.
The main goal of this approach is to foster creativity through the transmedia platforms – whether at a visual level, through drawing, or at a narrative level, through storytelling. And at the same time, both interactive experiences have as their aim to educate and engage with the latest technology. For the animated Twisted Tales series, a new aesthetics is researched by combining 2D animation with stop motion of real objects, props, and sets co-created by children. The animation is intended to be playful and dynamic with vivid colors thus giving the animation a childlike quality.