1 Short Stories Live

“Folk and Literary Fairy Tales” set the theme for this edition of Short Stories Live, directed by Kurt Beattie and performed by a roster of his ACT talent. On the traditional side of the menu are three works by the Brothers Grimm. On the literary side is “The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde, an 1888 parable that has a migratory swallow help a benevolent statue redistribute wealth in a town riven with economic inequality. (Beneath his witty, pleasure-seeking persona, Wilde was a committed socialist.) Covered with gilt and jewels, the statue asks the swallow to fly out and survey the once happy town he once ruled. At each report of suffering, he commands the bird to pluck out a ruby, or peel away a gold leaf, to aid those in need. But their philanthropy comes at a cost: The tired, dutiful swallow needs to winter in Egypt to survive; and the statuary prince is soon stripped of all ornament. Down below, selfish civic leaders complain, “How shabby the Happy Prince looks!” and—note the Wildean irony—“As he is no longer beautiful, he is no longer useful.” So how does the story end? Is altruism rewarded or punished? You’ll have to go to find out. T. BOND

Sun., March 28, 4 p.m., 2010

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