The Nightingale is a re-telling of the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Emperor and the Nightingale. Written in 1844, Andersen’s story tells the story of a Chinese Emperor, a collector of exquisite objects, who is so enchanted by the song of the nightingale that he keeps it by his side at all times. However, when he is given a bejewelled mechanical replica of the bird, he becomes distracted and forgets his real nightingale.
Eventually the mechanical bird breaks and, having realised his mistake, the emperor falls into a deep despair. In his darkest hour the little nightingale returns and, through her beautiful song, convinces death to leave him alone, and the emperor awakes with a new found love for life.
In our story, the King is a little child, pampered and privileged, always wanting something new but never satisfied. It is only when the kitchen maid, Luscinia, ignored by the King during the day, magically transforms into a nightingale that the King becomes enthralled by her hauntingly beautiful song. Through time they become friends, the very thing the King has always been lacking.
Just as in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, the King’s attention is seized by fancy replica of the nightingale. Our version is informed by the myriad distractions we have in our lives today – interactive video games, Twitter and Facebook. As with all machines, the i-nightingale eventually breaks, and the King realises the mistake he has made.
Through a vision in a nightmare, the King realises that he needs to leave his protective palace, go outside and experience the world outside, and find the nightingale.