Activated Stories

de Act!vated Story Theatre

Act!vated Stories - Folktales from a national touring theatre family

Episodios

The Flying Bed

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Flying Bed is a story from India that bears similarities to many other stories, including Aladdin, East Of The Sun and West Of The Moon, The Golden Pitcher, and the Aesop's Fable The Lion and the Mouse. It tells of how one good deed deserves another, and everybody can be of help to somebody, no matter the differences in size or species.

We come to you from Reno, Nevada, where we've been holed up since the pandemic hit. This is our first podcast in a couple of months, so we bring you up to date on our restricted explorations of Northern Nevada while we wait for things to change. We may not be able to go into stores very easily, but we got to pet wild horses!

Stay safe and productive. And happy listening!

Dennis (Ali, Ant, King) and Kimberly (Narrator, Ant, Lion, Fakir, Passerby, Princess Lalun)

The Golden Beetle

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Golden Beetle is a story about how a magical object comes to the aid of poor people in need, who then become careless with whom they share the secret of their good fortune. In that respect, it is somewhat like the Arabian Nights tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. But here there is an added element of an origin story, explaining why cats and dogs fight like... well, cats and dogs.

We come to you from Simi Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles. We've been doing some work in the film and TV industry, and we had some performances scheduled, but they have cancelled because of the coronavirus COIVID-19. In the meantime you can attend our daily "Theatre Camp" on Facebook and YouTube.

Your support is appreciated now more than ever https://www.patreon.com/Activated

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Son, Hermit, Mrs. Wu, Cat) and Kimberly (Narrator, Cow, Mom, Mr. Wu, Dog)

The Bamboo and the Stars

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Bamboo and the Stars is our first podcast story from the Philippines. Welcome to the family, Philippines! And it's yet another one of those celestial phenomenon stories that we seem to be uncovering quite a bit lately. (Story starts at 4:00.)

We're in Yuma, AZ, just a short hop from the Mexico border. While in town we visited The Camel Farm, where we were able to feed and pet camels, goats, sheep, a zebra, a zeedonk (half zebra and half donkey) and a hinny (half horse and half donkey).  And we held a teeny baby goat, only a week old.

We've been driving from East Coast to West coast, taking as much time as we can to see some sights along the way. This has included Saguaro National Park near Tuscon, full of cacti/cactuses/cactus (all are acceptable) that look as if they belonged in a cowboy cartoon. And we saw the Odessa Meteor Crater in Texas, made by a meteor that struck at least 10,000 years ago. So let's call it an even million.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Aponitolau, Baby, Star) and Kimberly (Narrator, Wife, Star)

Wishing On The Moon

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Wishing On The Moon is a sort of male Cinderella story from the Inuit (Eskimo) people of Alaska/Canada. We wanted to sneak in one more story about the moon before the end of this 50th anniversary year of the walk on the moon.

We're currently taking a holiday break in Atlanta, where we'll be for the end of 2019 before we start touring again in 2020.

In this story, we mention the 1922 documentary Nanook of the North by Robert J. Flaherty. You can watch it on Youtube but we should caution you to take it with a grain of salt. Flaherty took a great deal of poetic license, including making up the name Nanook for the main character, a man he falsely states died of starvation. He also staged scenes and had his subjects use antiquated tools rather than more modern things they normally used. Still, it's a fascinating cinematic and anthropological relic.

Happy watching, happy listening, happy holidays, and happy 2020.

Dennis (Nukilik, Man 1) and Kimberly (Narrator, Man 2, Man 3, Akna, Man in the Moon)

The Harpist and the Princess

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Harpist and the Princess is a story from Burma that is somewhat similar in theme to Beauty and the Beast, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Lohengrin, and a number of other stories in which a maiden falls in love with a person who has been transformed into an animal or beastly shape of some type. In many such stories, as in this one, she is asked to curb her curiosity to find out something about the beastly person -- his name, origin, appearance, or true identity.

We come to you from Marietta, GA, just outside Atlanta, where we're getting a bit of a break from our usual activities, thanks to the holiday season. We took advantage of the time to attend the Atlanta Water Lantern Festival, where people come together to celebrate their hopes and wishes and dreams by decorating a wooden lantern and giving it a symbolic launch on the water.

As haunted attraction enthusiasts, we also made a mandatory stop at Netherworld, one of the most phenomenal and awe-inspiring haunts in the whole country. This attraction, located near Stone Mountain, is open until the second weekend in November, so we were able to catch the final night, and were delighted by all the detail that went into the venue.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Thi Hah, Wizard, King) and Kimberly (Narrator, Person, Yi Yi)

Ameen and the Ghoul

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Just in time for Halloween, Ameen and the Ghoul from Persia (now known as Iran) tells of a brave man who defeats a terrible monster by using his brains rather than his brawn. It's a story in the tradition of Brave Little Tailor and Dragon of Krakow.

We come to you from Warwick, RI, where we are wrapping up our annual fall jaunt in New England by spending some time scaring people at a haunted attraction in Abington, MA. And soon we being migrating south for the winter.

Happy listening,
Dennis (Ameen) and Kimberly (Narrator, Friend, Wife, Ghoul)

The Wooden Tablet

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Wooden Tablet is a simple little story from China about the importance of keeping promises and honoring your elders.

We come to you from Seekonk, Massachusetts, having just returned from spending nearly a month touring Vermont for the first time. We were amazed and impressed by the state's unspoiled beauty -- there are no billboards anywhere! We took a train ride and a boat cruise, and did a lot of hiking (and photographing wild mushrooms) and even toured Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, and Cabot Cheese Factory.

Now we're getting ready for Halloween once again!

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Father, Narrator, Grandfather) and Kimberly (Narrator, Ming, Servant)

Rabbit Sells Corn

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Rabbit Sells Corn is the first story we've presented from Canada. It originated among Native Americans up north (yes, we can call them Native Americans too, since they lived on this continent) and has undergone some modifications as it was transmitted to white settlers. And we, of course, have done some tweaking of our own. It stems from a tradition of animal stories that also seem to have much in common with African-American tales about tricky and deceptive and clever critters.

We come to you from Attleboro, Massachusetts, as we wind down our summer touring season. Recently we performed on Cape Cod, where we took advantage once again of the Cape Cod Rail Trail to do some biking. This time, we rode a tandem bike for the first time ever.

We also spent a day in Boston attending Wanderlust 108, an event that features a curious triathlon of running, yoga and meditation. And we took the “Bones and Bells” tour at King's Church, visiting a crypt in the basement of the church and then climbing up to the bell tower, which features a bell made by Paul Revere and sons.

Happy listening!
Dennis (Narrator, Farmer, Fox, Bear) and Kimberly (Rabbit, Duck)

Out Of Season

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Out Of Season is a Cinderella-type story, rather similar to the Russian Vasalisa, which is rather similar to the story of Hansel and Gretel. These stories just won't stay in their own boxes. This is a tale from what used to be called Yugoslavia, before it was chopped up into smaller nations with less humorous-sounding names.

We bring you this story from a country that no longer exists, from a town that didn't exist back then: Kill Devil Hills, NC. In fact, it didn't exist in 1903 when the Wright Brothers made history here. So the site of their experiments was recorded as Kitty Hawk, the closest town at the time.

We've been taking advantage of the great beaches in this part of this state. We've also said howdy to some wild horses on Shackleford Banks, and we spotted an even dozen wild bears at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. But we did not, alas, spot any alligators or any rare red wolves.

On the way here, we dug for diamonds (and didn't find any) at Crater Of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas and panned for gold (we found some!) at John Reed Gold Mine in North Carolina. In Atlanta we spent a day at the Center For Puppetry Arts, admiring the varied puppets, some vary old, from many cultures; marveling at the genius of Jim Henson; enjoying a thoroughly imaginative puppet theatre production of Beauty and the Beast; and (literally) making a couple of friends, whom we call Buford and Otis, to bring home with us. Watch all of the latest Act!vated Adventures on YouTube

And now, we're off again in search of strawberries, violets and apples. And maybe even some diamonds and gold.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Marta, December) and Kimberly (Anka, Gretchen, April, June, September)

The Prince and His Servant

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Prince and His Servant from Poland is one of those folk tales that sound like it actually could have happened -- or something like it. It's a tale about betrayal and trickery, with a little plug for literacy thrown in to boot.

We come to you from Heber Springs, AR., having just started our summer season of performing at libraries across the country. We drove out from Reno, where we always put together a new show. While we were there, we did a week residency at Acro Enso, a new facility that offers training in a variety of circus arts, including juggling, tumbling and handstands. We picked up some new skills that we plan to insert into our performances.

Happy listening,
Dennis (Henrik, King) and Kimberly (Narrator, Frederick, Servant)

Saving the Snake

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Saving the Snake is a Middle Eastern fable about trickery and gratitude and learning from mistakes. It's similar to a story from the Arabian Nights, as well as to our earlier story Anansi and the Story Box; it even has some similarities to the “Brer Rabbit” stories.

We come to you from the Bay Area city of Fremont, CA., where we're in the middle of a busy April performing in several Northern California schools and libraries. While in the area, we paid a visit to our old stomping grounds in San Francisco, where we hiked across the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time.

Prior to that, we were in Southern California, where we visited some later stomping grounds in the Los Angeles area. We made this trip even more special by picking up Kimberly's birth mother and giving her a tour of La-La-Land; and we secretly arranged for our son Zephyr to fly in from the East Coast to meet his grandmother for the first time. There's only one way to celebrate such an occasion as this: we all spent a day at Disneyland.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Man, Tree) and Kimberly (Snake, Cow, Fox, Narrator)

The Drum and the Tree

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Drum and the Tree is a Nigerian fable featuring talking lions and tortoises about the dangers of keeping the wrong secrets from the wrong people, and the problems that curiosity can cause. It's thematically similar to Bluebeard, Lohengrin and Pandora.

This month finds us is Nipomo, CA., having just driven across half the country from Texas. Along the way, we stopped to explore the underground marvels of Carlsbad Caverns and the desert splendor of Joshua Tree. We also visited Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch in Arizona, where we were able to feed not only ostriches, but bunnies, goats, exotic birds, stingrays, and many other critters. (But no talking lions or tortoises.) If there's one thing funnier than feeling them lick food out of your hand, it's having a goat take food from your lips.

Now we're gearing up for our annual whirlwind tour of California and then getting another new show ready for our 32nd summer season. Hope to see you there!

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Lion King, Tortoise, Tortoise Son) and Kimberly (Narrator, Lion Queen, Cub, Mrs. Tortoise) 

How The Tiger Got Its Stripes

por Act!vated Story Theatre

How The Tiger Got Its Stripes is an "origin" story, a fable about bullying, and a trickster tale all rolled into one.

We're bringing it to you from Texas, having just driven across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama after having a great couple of weeks in Florida. We went snorkeling with manatees at Crystal River, took a a glass-bottom boat tour at Silver Springs State Park, and watched hundreds of thousands of bats take off at twilight in Gainesville.

Now we're heading west, and soon we'll be back at familiar haunts in California.

Happy Listening!
Dennis (Narrator, Tiger) and Kimberly (Narrator, Monkey, Goat, Rabbit)

Hina and the Moon

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Hina and the Moon is a nature origin myth from what is now called Hawaii. It is one of many stories about Hina, who in some cases is a goddess and in others an ordinary woman. Sometimes she is married to Maui, and others not. Sometimes she goes to the moon, and other times she doesn't. We decided to have her take a trip to the moon, because this year is the 50th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing, and libraries will be celebrating it this summer. Accordingly, we'll be having Hina take a trip to the moon on stage when we perform.

We come to you from Charleston, SC, having just performed at the Charleston Museum, the oldest museum in the country, for its 246th birthday. We've also been touring Myrtle Beach, where we learned to do an old dance called the Carolina shag. And in the town of Bishopville, we visited the amazing topiary garden that has been maintained for nearly 4 decades by a man named Pearl Fryar.

Our 2019 is off to a great start. Hope yours is too.

Happy listening,

Dennis (Narrator, Man, Maui, Moon) and Kimberly (Hina, Woman, Narrator) 

How a Bundle of Straw Became a Fortune

por Act!vated Story Theatre

How a Bundle of Straw Became a Fortune is the Japanese take on the “exchange” type of story, which we could also call the “pay it forward” type. In it, an individual does a good deed by giving away something, and receives a gift in return; this gift is then given to someone else who needs it, and the hero then receives another “white elephant” in return, which is then passed on to someone else, etc. Finally, our hero receives his ultimate good fortune. We are currently performing a story of this type, The Boy Who Wanted a Drum (India) in our live stage production. It seems like a rather appropriate choice for a holiday season in which so many people give gifts and think about those less fortunate.

By the way, we named the character in our version of the story Keisuke, after a young man we know in Japan. And you may catch the subtle reference to the classic Japanese animated film, Kiki's Delivery Service.

We come to you from Simpsonville, SC, near Greenville. We are taking a bit of a holiday break between our stage performances and our offstage explorations that provide the fodder for our Act!vated Adventures videos. Have a peek at them!

Happy holidays and happy listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Charcoal Maker, Blacksmith, Samurai) and Kimberly (Keisuke, Narrator)

Tug Of War

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Tug Of War comes from the Island of Andros in The Bahamas, and continues the tradition of a clever trickster animal getting the best of bigger and brawnier bully beasts. Our monkey is named Timmy, thanks to a listener and Patreon named Caleb.

We come to you from Jamestown, Virginia, where we've just toured Jamestown Settlement, an amazing museum complex featuring meticulous recreations of a Powhatan Indian village, a colonial fort, and three ships that brought settlers over in 1607 -- among them Captain John Smith.

In recent days, we've also toured Thomas Edison's old laboratories in West Orange, NJ, with tools and equipment still almost as he left them. We took a beautiful helicopter tour over Newport, Rhode Island. And we tried our hand at throwing hatchets at targets at Bury the Hatchet in Cherry Hill, NJ. Just another typical month in the lives of touring thespians.

Follow all of the Activated Adventures on our new site for off stage shenanigans.

We hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

Happy listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Elephant) and Kimberly (Timmy, Whale)

Boots and the Troll

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Boots and the Troll is a tale that has many elements in common with other folk and fairy tales, including Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk, as well as countless others about siblings setting out to find their fortunes.

We come to you from Abington, MA., where we've been performing as ghouls and goblins and other fearsome creatures in a Halloween attraction, which is something we like to do every year about this time. 

Happy listening,
Dennis (Michael, King, Troll) and Kimberly (Narrator, Boots, Lars)

The Chinese Mirror

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Yes, The Chinese Mirror is indeed a Korean story, a tale about fools and about how the introduction of something new often leads to comical results.

We come to you from Scarsdale, NY, just north of New York City, which we just took a walking tour of. Since our last podcast, we've been to Maine, including Acadia National Park; we've been sailing and taking a high-speed "Eco Adventure Cruise" off the Maine coast; we've been challenging ourselves at Monkey C Monkey D obstacle course; we've been taking a nostalgic stroll (and train ride) at Boothbay Railway Village; we've attended the annual WaterFire event in Providence, RI; and we've even (ho-hum) worked in some skydiving in Connecticut.

Here's hoping your coming month will also be eventful.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Merchant, Mother-in-Law, Neighbor) and Kimberly (Narrator, Vendor, Wife, Daughter)

The Monkey Husband

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Monkey Husband from Japan is one of those many stories about a girl from a poor family marrying a beast of some sort or other -- including, of course, one of the best known, Beauty and the Beast. This one also seems to be related to a legend that Shakespeare borrowed for King Lear: a father with three daughters, of whom the oldest two are selfish and ungrateful, and the youngest is loving and loyal. Our monkey husband's name, Misue, was supplied by Elizabeth McFarland, who is one of our patrons on Patreon.

We come to you from Mashpee, Massachusetts, on beautiful Cape Cod. Since we last spoke to you, we have traveled all the way from North Carolina, and had quite a few adventures along the way. We have documented these in our series of YouTube videos, Gozas on the Go; Act!vated Adventures. They include the Salty Pirate water park and the Wright Brothers flight site in North Carolina; the Virginia Aquarium, the Virginia Musical Museum, Warehouse 29 escape room and the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Virginia; Gettysburg, Hershey Chocolate World and Lost River Caverns in Pennsylvania; and Purgatory Chasm State Park, Art's Dune Tours and Hyannis Whale Watching in Massachusetts. Phew!

And during all of that we managed to work in some performances. And we have more coming up. We hope to see you at one of them, if not on a whale watching boat.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Farmer, Middle Daughter) and Kimberly (Misue, Oldest Daughter, Youngest Daughter)

The Magic Pear Tree

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Magic Pear Tree is a strange little tale about greed, generosity, paying it forward, and poetic justice. It comes from ancient China, showing that these concepts are not just modern. It's somewhat similar to the stories about someone getting three wishes, and becoming so overwhelmed with greed that they end up with nothing.

We come to you from Raleigh, NC. Since we last approached your ears, we went to Memphis, where we stopped by the pop music landmarks of Graceland and Sun Studios. We also visited a considerably older historic locale, Chucalissa Indian Village, an archaeological site that was home to a settlement of Mississippian Culture natives many centuries ago.

From there we went to Chattanooga for the Fourth Of July and then Pigeon Forge, where we rode the thrilling Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, a hilltop coaster that zooms down and down and around and around and then down some more.

Then we drove through the Smoky Mountains themselves, into North Carolina for our shows at the High Point Library. (A big howdy and thank you to podcast listeners the Singletons for coming to the show again.) While in High Point, we had to pay our respects to the world's largest chest of drawers. 

On to Greensboro, and a repeat visit to Elsewhere, a truly fascinating art museum and play space that features shelves and shelves of old toys, books, appliances, tools and various other items left over from the days when the building was the home of a surplus and knickknack store.

And finally, our travels brought us here to Raleigh, where we went ape at Go Ape, a treetop canopy course with zip lines, tricky bridges, and the really fun Tarzan vine.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Farmer, Onlooker) and Kimberly (Narrator, Beggar, Customer, Onlooker)

Common Sense

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Common Sense is a story from Jamaica with roots in Africa that involves the legendary trickster man-spider, Anansi. Many tales are told about Anansi not only in Africa, but in America and nearby islands. He seems to have come to the New World along with the slaves, which is hardly surprising. This particular story is rather similar to Anansi and the Story Box, a tale from Ghana that we have performed on stage.

We come to you from Jonesboro, Arkansas, where we are in the middle of our summer season, which we kicked off with 17 performances at libraries in Los Angeles County. In the midst of it all, we've managed to find time to take a float down the Buffalo River, as we try to do almost every year. And we're constantly on the lookout for bits of that common sense.

Happy listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Old Man 1, Old Man 3) and Kimberly (Anansi, Old Man 2, Owl, Little Girl)

Kaguya Hime

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Kaguya Hime is a Japanese tale in the tradition of the stories about a childless couple who find a child of supernatural origin, and adopt her/ him as their own. (See, for example, The Snow Maiden from Russia.) It doubles as a nature myth, as some versions of it are intended to explain a full moon, and some versions explain the smoke arising from Mount Fuji (Fujiyama). This story was requested by podcast listeners in Tokyo, Japan, Sakura and George.

We come to you from Reno, NV, which is our base of operations every May as we frantically put a new show together. We're getting ready to head to Los Angeles to open up a busy stand of 17 performances May 24th-31st for the Los Angeles County Library system.

We're very happy to have with us a special guest, an old friend from -- would you believe -- Japan! Yukari is visiting us at Kimberly's parents in Reno this month, and she insisted on helping us work on the props and costumes for our new production. If you've been listening to our podcasts from the beginning, you may remember that we visited Yukari and her family in Japan in 2006.

Now if you'll excuse us, we'll get back to rehearsing while you listen to the podcast. Happy listening!

Act!vatedly Yours,
Dennis (Bamboo Cutter, Suitor 2, Suitor 3), Kimberly (Narrator, Wife, Kaguya Hime, Suitor 1, Soldier 1) and Yukari (Soldier 2)

The Fly

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Fly is a trickster tale about a boy who is wise beyond his years and gets the better of his elders. He is part of a long tradition of clever "fools" who are really not so foolish, but save the day in the end. We previously performed, for example, The Boy Who Listened to Birds from Russia.

We come to you from Dublin, the shamrock city in the San Francisco Bay Area, where we are wrapping up our Northern California tour and finishing our run of our production Hammer, Nail, Tell a Tale. And we are getting ready to buckle down to readying our new production, Tuneful Tales.

Meanwhile, we took the time to celebrate Earth Day in Yosemite by making a brutal hike up a mountain to get a good view of a magnificent waterfall.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Banker, Father, Judge) and Kimberly (Narrator, Boy, Mother) 

The White Snake

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The White Snake is one of the lesser known folktales collected by the Brothers Grim; it's one of those stories in which the hero is able to talk to animals, a story motif that was around long before Dr. Dolittle. It may seem strange to name a story after a reptile that makes only the briefest appearance in it, but the snake is still the one driving the action -- working undercover, as it were.

We come to you from Turlock, California, where we're beginning a series of performances for the Stanislaus County Library system, as well as several school and library performances in the San Francisco Bay Area.

We've finished our journey from sea to shining sea, and recent stops along the way include Quartzsite, AZ, where we saw the monument to Hi Jolly, a Middle Eastern immigrant who was hired by the U.S. Army to drive camels across the desert in the 1850s; Robolights, a fascinating collection of sculpture made from recycled objects in Palm Springs, CA; the BAPS Mandir, a magnificent Hindu temple in Chino Hills, CA; Hsi Lai, a magnificent Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights, CA; and the "fork in the road" in Pasadena.

Hoping you have a great spring, and if you see a magical white snake, let us know.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Jack, King) and Kimberly (Narrator, Fish, Ant, Bird, Princess)

Hop in My Sack

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Hop in My Sack is an Italian story collected by the Italian writer Italo Calvino. The version he published was considerably longer, featuring a few more (mis)adventures for the young hero; we streamlined it for our podcast, which was already running long enough.

Because we have come all the way from Alabama to California in the last month, and although we didn't bring a banjo on our knee, we did do a lot of other fun things.

There was Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham (a gigantic abandoned steel mill that you can tour); the birthplace of Elvis in Tupelo, MS; Beale Street and the pyramid in Memphis; Pioneer Village in Searcy, AR; the National Weather Center in Norman, OK; the Land Run Monument in Oklahoma City; the Slug Bug Ranch near Amarillo (it's a Volkswagen version of the Cadillac Ranch); Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque; the Petrified Forest in Arizona; and Goldfield in Arizona (a restored mining ghost town).

And at the same time we managed to brave some incredibly chilly weather almost everywhere; buy a new RV, move into it and sell the old one; and continue our daily dance steps in our Dance Across the Nation. Meanwhile, we also met up with Kimberly's two sisters and brother and an aunt and some nieces and nephews that we met previously; and she met another brother for the first time.

Enjoy the podcast while we catch our breath.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Father, Lorenzo) and Kimberly (First Son, Second Son, Fairy, Boy, Doctor, Robber, Death, Townspeople)

Li Chi and the Serpent

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Li Chi and the Serpent is, like the better known Mu Lan, an old story of girl power from China. In this case, the hero(ine) is not battling an army, but a person-eating creature. But as in the story of Mu Lan, (spoiler alert) she succeeds where the men folk fail. We present this story especially for Chinese New Year, which comes up on February 16 to start the Year Of The Dog.

We come to you from Prattville, Alabama, a suburb of Montgomery, as we dodge the cold as much as possible while making our way west. We've just come from Myrtle Beach, which was unusually chilly, and stopped in Atlanta, where we visited the birth place of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. just in time for his birthday. And along the way, we tested our wits at a couple of escape rooms.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Dennis (First Traveler, Second Traveler, Mayor, Dad, Villager) and Kimberly (Narrator, Villager, Serpent, Mayor's Assistant, Li Chi, Mom)

 

The Man Who Had No Story

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Man Who Had No Story is one of those stories about stories. Many times, they depict not only the origin of a particular story, but of all stories everywhere. (As it happens, we're currently performing one of these, Anansi and the Story Box, live on stage.) Others, like this one, show how you find amazing stories in places where you might least expect them.

And this being Christmas time, it's altogether appropriate that this story features elves. And hey, do you notice certainly similarities to a well-known children's story that was made into a Hollywood musical starring Judy Garland in 1939?

We're currently in Simpsonville, a suburb of Greenville, SC. Next stop Myrtle Beach. May you days be merry and bright for this holiday season, the year to come, and on and on.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Jamie, elves, Thingamabob) and Kimberly (Narrator, Old Man, Old Woman, elves)

Lazy Hans and Gretchen

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Lazy Hans and Gretchen, from Germany, is about two very lazy people, and of course it's a moralistic tale about how being lazy leads to ruin. But it's also one of the "don't count your chickens before they hatch" stories that go all the way back to ancient times -- the story about the milkmaid spilling her pail of milk while daydreaming about the money she's going to make from it supposedly dates back to Aesop. Other popular variations include The Brahman Who Built Air Castles from India, and The Barber's Fifth Tale from 1001 Nights.

We come to you from Pasadena, MD., as we make our annual trek southward in time to avoid the chill of New England, where we have been for the past couple of months. We discuss our visit to 5 Wits near Philadelphia, a company for which our son Zephyr works, and which provides some fantastic puzzle-solving indoor adventures in several locations.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Hans, Bystander) and Kimberly (Narrator, Gretchen)

The Goblin's Bridge

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Goblin's Bridge is one of those stories about someone making a bad deal with a supernatural being. They (the stories, not necessarily the beings) are especially common in Germany and Scandinavia and sometimes involve a person making a deal for his soul with the devil. (The type has come to America in the form of The Devil and Daniel Webster by Stephen Vincent Benet and The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving. ) Sometimes, as in the present tale, the deal is broken by resorting to trickery. We presented another variation of this motif last year in our production of Racing the Troll.

We come to you from Foxboro (also spelled Foxborough), Massachusetts (also spelled in many other ways, but not correctly) where we are in the middle of haunting season. And as usual this time of year, we are working as actors at a "haunted" attraction when we can fit it into our schedule.

Kimberly just returned from a little trip to California, where she celebrated a very big birthday by spending it with both of her moms -- her adopted mom and her recently discovered birth mom, with whom she was spending a birthday for the first time.

Also especially for her birthday, she participated in a Color Run in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. A color run means running through the streets and having people throw colored corn starch all over you. Hey, don't knock it if you haven't tried it.

Happy Listening,

Dennis (Narrator, Hans) and Kimberly (Goblin, Griselda)

The Three Advices

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Three Advices is a story of the prescient type; quite often, in such stories the main character has a number of odd items which happen to be exactly what he or she needs to solve problems that come up. In this case, the items are not physical objects, but pieces of advice that help the hero avoid danger for himself and others. And in the process he learns that patience and humility pay off in the end.

We come to you from Attleboro, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston -- which has a very large population of descendants from Irish immigrants. We recently went into Boston to attend and participate in the Boston Dance Mile, a day of dance and fitness related activities culminating in a dance parade through the streets of the city. And we went whale watching off the coast of Plymouth with Captain John's Boats. We saw about a dozen whales, along with some other large fish and even a couple of huge leatherback turtles. That's something we don't spot every day out the window of our RV!

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Owen, Old Man, Servant, Sheriff) and Kimberly (Narrator, Kate, Finn, Tom, and Young Wife)

The Monkey and the Boar

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Monkey and the Boar is a tale from Japan about two animal chums who outwit the humans who pose a problem for them. It uses the motif of the staged rescue, which has been used a number of times in movies and TV shows. This story appealed to us in part because when we visited Japan in 2006, we saw a young man with a monkey doing tricks in a busy plaza in Tokyo.

We come to you from Wompatuck State Park in Massachusetts, where we are camping and preparing for the end of our 2017 summer tour. The park was the site of a naval ammunition depot from 1941 to 1965, and a few remnants of this history can still be found. There's also a spring in the park where you can fill water jugs free.

We talk about our travels from West Virginia through Pennsylvania (where we stopped at the Strasburg Railroad and Pennsylvania Railroad Museum, which our son Zephyr loved to visit when he was about 2) and Albany, NY, where we caught up with Zephyr at his current job of managing 5Wits. We also spent some time in Binghamton, NY, where the annual Spiedie Fest and Hot Air Balloon Rally was in progress.

And how as your month?

Happy listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Man, Boar) and Kimberly (Narrator, Woman, Baby, Monkey)

The Blind Beggar Of Baghdad

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Blind Beggar Of Baghdad is a story within a story, like many tales in the famous collection in which it can be found, and indeed like the entire collection itself, a group of stories spun by Scheherazade to forestall her doom. This story involves a beggar, a caliph (the head official of Islam) and a dervish (a sort of monk famous for their whirling dance of devotion). It's a cautionary tale about greed, and being blind to one's blessings.

We're in Charleston, WV to perform for 6 libraries in the Kanawha County Library system. We're winding down a busy summer, having just finished libraries in VA and NC, where we at least were able to work in a day at the beach.

Kimberly has met two cousins she didn't know she had (one of them is a librarian here; and she has another librarian cousin here that she hasn't met yet) and she recently met another cousin in VA that she'd been in touch with online. This is all because of her recent detective work on her family tree.

We now head to the Northeast and, we hope, cooler weather. And maybe we'll encounter more lost relatives.

Happy Listening,

Dennis (Beggar) and Kimberly (Narrator, Caliph, Dervish) 

Why Frogs Croak

por Act!vated Story Theatre

Why Frogs Croak is an origin myth that explains why a certain animal makes a certain noise, though it also delves into the sleeping habits of bears, the length of days and nights, the importance of democracy, and other such profound matters.

We come to you from Heber Springs, Arkansas in the middle of a very busy summer tour. We discuss our recent visits to the escape room called Lockdown in Jonesboro and to the Ozark Folklife Center in Mountain View.

Here's hoping that the summer keeps you hopping with joy!

Happy listening,
Dennis (Frog, Bear, Sun) and Kimberly (Narrator, Eagle, Mayfly, Owl)

The Shadow Builders

por Act!vated Story Theatre

The Shadow Builders is one version of the legend of Karagöz and Hacivat (pronounced KAR-a-gerz and HA-jee-vaht), the beloved characters of Turkish shadow puppet plays, supposedly based on real individuals. According to this version of the story, they were masons who loved storytelling and merriment, and paid a price for being a bit too cheerful on the job. The tradition of these puppet characters being based on actual historical figures seems to have originated around the Turkish city of Bursa, which has a museum and an annual festival to honor shadow puppetry.

This is a sneak peek of one of the four brand new stories that we'll be including this summer in our production Hammer, Nail, Tell a Tale that is designed to fit the library consortium's summer reading theme, Build A Better World. (Well, the stories are not literally new; like the other folk tales we perform, they're very old stories. They're just new to us. Well, no, they're not really new to us, either; they're just new in the sense that we've never performed any of them before. Well, at least not live. We've performed most of them in podcasts, but not on stage. There, we hope that's all cleared up now.) The stories we have chosen will reflect this theme not only in a literal sense – involving masons, a carpenter and a do-it-yourself trio of pigs – but also will deal on another level with the concept of making the world a better place and improving the lives of the people in it.

We come to you from the “biggest little city in the world”: Reno, Nevada, where we always hole up every May to put together a new production. It's an especially big job this time , because we're doing four new stories, and – well, they're not really new – oh, you know what we mean.

We hope to see you in person at one of our 50-something performances this summer.

Happy listening,
Dennis (Narrator,
Karagöz, Sultan) and Kimberly (Narrator, Hacivat, Worker, Servant)

 

The Further Adventures of the Third Little Pig and the Big Bad Wolf

por Act!vated Story Theatre

No, it's not a sequel. It's not a fractured fairy tale. It's not something that we just made up. It's part of the original Three Little Pigs that normally gets omitted -- you might say that people are accustomed to hearing the Reader's Digest version. This "lost" segment features another example of the rule of three, with three additional desperate efforts by the wolf to lure the third little pig onto his plate.

We come to you from Modesto, California, in the middle of an extremely busy April featuring 26 performances, as well as a photography session for our publicity shots, and frenzied preparations for our new production, our most demanding yet. But we're never too busy to stop and say howdy, either in a podcast or when you drop in at one of our live performances.

Happy listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Wolf, Churn Vendor) and Kimberly (Pig)