Subscribe to EcoJustice Radio:
Ballet Meets Battle: A Nutcracker Story
On this show, Solstice Celebration Story: Nutcracker and the Shape Shifter. Co-host and Producer Jack Eidt, in his role as a Literary Fiction writer, reads an excerpt of his short story based on The Nutcracker, a two-act ballet, with an 1892 score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The ballet libretto was adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1816 story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Here we present Jack’s own pro-peace-environmental re-imagining of that story, called The Nutcracker and the Shape Shifter, published in 2022 in the Fifth Fedora Anthology of Weird Noir and Stranger Tales, Published by Borda Books.
We also feature excerpts of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, the Nutcracker, Opus 71, recorded by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nezet-Seguin, featuring Boys’ Choirs Rijnmond, Rivierenland and Waterland conducted by Arie Hoek.
The Fifth Fedora Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Fifth-Fedora-Weird-Stranger-Tales-ebook/dp/B0BFFTG13D
Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker – Rotterdam’s Philharmonisch Orkest – Complete concert in HD:
Watch this video on YouTube
For an extended interview and other benefits, become an EcoJustice Radio patron at https://www.patreon.com/ecojusticeradio
Excerpt from Nutcracker and the Shape Shifter
When Susana delivered the drink, she rang a bell, that sprung the children running toward a table arranged with wrapped presents before the window that opened to the sea. They yearned to discover what Uncle had brought them.
When Rolf, the blond-blue-eyed son, tore apart the old maps Uncle used as wrapping paper, they could see his creation, a statue or doll three feet tall with a round head, grotesque face, goggle eyes, and a red mouth with razor teeth. The children gasped when they saw it.
“This doll is something else, Uncle,” said Gundert. He knew his wife was not thrilled with the gift.
“What is it?” asked Rolf, standing back from it. He did not seem impressed either.
“Rolf,” said Uncle, “this chap will be leading the revolution.”
“What sort of revolution?” countered Susana, an émigré from Cuba who did not approve of revolutions, generally, though her family stuck it out for decades.
“I think young Rolf is more about tactics,” added Uncle, with a wide smile as he pronounced his words almost toward the living room ocean view picture window, the invisible audience of the beyond, where the sun would shortly begin to gain strength and take back the balance of light in the world. “This celebratory fellow, he is called Kugelkopf. He is a sort of clown, a trickster, and his spherical head is a nod to the entire planet. He is among us to upend established orders that must be overcome.”
“Does this come from a tradition?” asked Gundert, humored. “Who gives it such meaning?”
Uncle only nodded and did not respond.
Susana did not hide her disapproval, running her hands through her long black curly hair, a familiar gesture for her when agitated. “I’m not sure we are about upending any established orders in our house, Uncle.”
Uncle smiled, but did not acknowledge her derision, as his usual response to her skepticism was to smile through it. “The thing we must grapple with is our seriousness. Every day we assume tomorrow will be like yesterday. What happens when we do not recognize tomorrow? This is where we turn to Kugelkopf for answers.”
“Why is he dressed in women’s clothing?” asked Rolf.
“He is a dancer, and his clothing is androgynous, not a woman’s or a man’s.” Uncle had draped a colorful hat with ribbons over the bare-ball-head. “He is a warrior, disguised in bright flowery colors and has mirrors dangling at his arms.”
Rolf was looking at other presents that might interest him. “He’s no warrior. Where are his weapons? How can he defend himself from attacks with bullets and knives? I want to see how fast that painted head would melt when the rains fall. He would blow over in the winds that whip off the ocean this time of year. And what happens when the fires come down from the hills in summer? He would burn to a crisp. He needs a metal shield. That’s not a recipe for winning a revolution.”
Rolf picked up his favorite armored toy who carried a rifle, the Nutcracker soldier. “Commander Nutcracker will kill that ball-head in a blink of the eye.”
Kugelkopf had a droll look on his spherical head. He did not cast his eyes toward any of them. Nutcracker, on the other hand, seemed ready to take him on, just waiting for the word from Rolf.
“Rolf has a point,” added Susana, which only made Uncle smile wider. “It seems like a random talisman you have gifted my children. It just doesn’t seem appropriate.”
“I like Kugelkopf,” daughter Alisa spoke up. At nine, she was three years younger than Rolf, and had a more giving, let’s say indulgent nature. “He is very cute. Though, I should say, something about him reminds me of you, Uncle. As if he could go out in the world and do anything he wanted. But you don’t wear ribbons.”
Jack Eidt is an urban planner, environmental journalist, and climate organizer, as well as award-winning fiction writer. He is Co-Founder of SoCal 350 Climate Action and Executive Producer of EcoJustice Radio. He is also Founder and Publisher of WilderUtopia, a website dedicated to the question of Earth sustainability, finding society-level solutions to environmental, community, economic, transportation and energy needs.
View this post on Instagram
Podcast Website: http://ecojusticeradio.org/
Podcast Blog: https://www.wilderutopia.com/category/ecojustice-radio/
Support the Podcast: Patreon https://www.patreon.com/ecojusticeradio
Story by Jack Eidt
Background Music: The Nutcracker, Opus 71, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performance by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nezet-Seguin, featuring Boys’ Choirs Rijnmond, Rivierenland and Waterland conducted by Arie Hoek
Executive Producer and Host: Jack Eidt
Engineer and Original Music: Blake Quake Beats
Published 18 December 2023, Updated 25 December 2023