In the eyes of Amy Pinto, Hamelin—the complacent village that stiffed the Piper—looks a lot like any small town in Sonoma County’s wine country: “Small, well fed, neat lawns, everyone enterprising with high-end tourism the bread and butter of the town.” So for Pinto, artistic director of the Imaginists Theatre Collective, it wasn’t hard to empathize with the infamous Piper. “We understood the Piper, his bitterness. Not just the fact that he was not paid, but that his ‘gift’ was not valued. What happens when you lock out art? What does a society look like that places no value on what is, essentially, invaluable?”
In response to those questions, the Imaginists devised a “contemporary and timeless fairy tale”—The Ratcatcher, running through Dec. 16 at the Santa Rosa
Theatre. The play revisits Hamelin, in subsequent years, when the local tourism board and the town council have tailored the details of the original story, making “Piper Day” Hamelin’s biggest tourist event. But the truth still haunts some townspeople, including three children the Piper left behind—one blind, one lame, one deaf—who are now in their twenties. In collaboration with local band the Crux, the Imaginists have created a piece which is, as Pinto puts it, “part town council meeting, part cabaret, part pancake breakfast, part concert and part fairy-tale magic.”
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