Fairy Tales in New York
Re-imagining of classic fairy stories are the starting off points for these set design/illustration projects
The Three Little Pigs
Three greedy and corrupt brothers (a Republican Congressmen, a member of the City Planning Commission and an Attorney in the Justice Department) are determined to get rich in public service in NYC. Having been encouraged to move from upstate New York by their pushy/ambitious mother (their long suffering father long dead).
The brothers build their houses of straw, sticks and bricks in the Meat Packing District and Lower West Side. The straw is collected from an abandoned upholstering warehouse; the sticks (and other flotsam) caught in the Hudson River; and the bricks salvaged from an apartment building, recently destroyed in a suspicious gas explosion.
In the re-telling of the story, the wolf is replaced by discontented and rioting New Yorkers. The first pig’s house of straw, located on the flat roof of a meatpacking warehouse, is raised to the ground following an arson attack. The second pig’s house of sticks, located on Pier 51, is tethered to a haulage truck and is pulled down. The third pig’s brick house, at the corner of 42nd Street and Tenth Avenue, nestles securely within the metal frame structure of a billboard and survives attacks by rocket launchers, a small bomb, and an attempt to undermine the billboard’s support legs and foundations.
Eight prostitutes, illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe, are imprisoned in converted water towers on the roofs of three adjacent tall buildings in the Theatre District. Rapunzel and each of the other girls are installed in their own tower, accessed by its own ladder from a private underground car park. When occupied, the tanks glow red/pink. Rapunzel has been resident for six years. The madam in charge of brothel no.4 is Irma, a 72-year-old Russian émigré. She has remained captive in the tallest of the towers. Irma is an employee of a large crime syndicate and is responsible for two other nearby brothels (nos. 6 and 9). She monitors the activities in her girls’ cells and her voice can be heard permeating the tanks through a crude public address system.
Jack and the Beanstalk
Jack and his mother were dairy farmers in upstate New York until foreclosure forced them to relocate to the City with their prize winning cow. Soon after they arrive and with nowhere to live, Jack is forced to sell their cow. In return he receives six months free rental on a shop with a small parcel of land. This is located on the perimeter of Harlem’s North River Waste Treatment Plant. Three years on, Jack is a Florist who runs a successful shop with a nursery located behind, Jack lives with his elderly mother in the small, three-roomed apartment over the shop. Frequent power outages have resulted in the Plant discharging the sewage into the Hudson River, adjacent to Jack’s nursery. The plants, fruit and vegetables thrive on the effluent spillage and are out of control. The most aggressive of the plants can be seen climbing the cooling towers of the Treatment Plant. Their root systems enter the City’s sewerage system as far south as the Financial District. At night, Jack follows the roots and gains access to bank vaults, slowly emptying them. The losses are being investigated and time appears to be running out for Jack and his mother.
Hansel and Gretel
Starving due to crop failure on their father’s farm in the Mid-West, brother and sister, Hansel and Gretel are forced by their stepmother to abandon the dust bowl. The siblings are on the run from the law following a crime spree across the States, and are currently to be found on Coney Island, having joined a run down travelling circus. Hansel is now part of trapeze act following the recent suspicious death of Amerio (the troupe’s volatile but talented performer). Gretel helps to tend the animals and finds whatever temporary work she can in the area (she is currently a waitress in Nathan’s Clam Bar). They live in a stolen RV with illegal licence plates, which is located in a car park beneath The Cyclone roller coaster ride. The circus has been in town for three weeks and is due to move on in two more. The circus is operated by a human trafficker who has shown an unhealthy interest in Hansel and Gretel.
Tiffany is originally from Reno, Nevada and is a cocaine-addicted, aspiring model living alone in a two-roomed apartment in a largely derelict and abandoned tenement building on the Lower East Side. A serious fire eighteen months ago badly damaged the lobby and stairwell of the building making it unsafe to use. Access to the six apartments that remain occupied (all are on the top two floors) is restricted to the external fire escape stair on the west facing elevation. Tiffany, until six months ago, had been working as a cloakroom attendant in the Starlight Nightclub. Since losing her job, Tiffany hasn’t been seen out of her apartment. The alarm is raised and Jose, a NYC paramedic and his partner Johnny, attend and rescue Tiffany.
Little Red Riding Hood
Ruth Eleanor Downey is a private nurse who works for some of New York’s wealthiest elderly men and women. Ruth travels about the city on her blue Honda PC50 moped. Ruth’s brother Jeffrey, unbeknown to her, is a serial killer who has been preying on the elderly in the Tri-State (NY, NJ and CT) area.
Jeffrey’s body count to date is 19 (2 of which have been patients of Ruth) and he has now identified his latest victim. Widow Elizabeth Tanner, has been one of Ruth’s patients for four months. She is a lonely nonagenarian who lives in a small ex gardener’s cottage on the edge of Central Park.