Activated Stories
Bringing you comedic folktales from somewhere on the road. Act!vated Stories is presented by Act!vated Story Theatre a national touring theatre troupe for children and their families. Join us for a family friendly story and travel tales.

Act!vated Story Theatre brings your family folktales and travel tales. Enjoy the stories!

The Frog and the Sky Princess

The Frog and the Sky Princess is a story from Angola in Africa, about a frog and a princess that involves the lead character successfully completing tasks to prove his worthiness to obtain a prize – in this case the hand of the princess in marriage. Yes, it's somewhat like the classic European tale The Frog Prince, though in this case there's no metamorphosis between species. But it's also curiously similar to an American legend.

It was immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1858 narrative poem The Courtship of Miles Standish, in which military captain Miles Standish wants to court the lady Priscilla, but is a bit too shy, so he sends his friend John Alden with messages on his behalf. Priscilla is indeed won over, but it is Alden she falls for and not Standish. The characters in the story were real people – John Alden did marry Priscilla, and Miles Standish has a state park named after him in Massachusetts (we've camped there); and Longfellow claimed the story was true. But most likely it was just a folk tradition that somehow became attached to actual people.

We come to you from Greenville, South Carolina, where we're doing our annual Christmas tree sale to benefit our company.  We hope things are really hopping for you, and you're having a hoppy holiday season.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Kimana, Hawk, Sun King) and Kimberly (Narrator, Rabbit, Sky Princess, Frog)

Direct download: Frog_Sky_Princess.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:03pm EST

Savitri

Savitri is a tale from the Mahabharata, the national epic poem of India, written about 2500 years ago. It's somewhat similar to the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, except things are reversed: it's the wife who goes to rescue her husband from death, and (spoiler alert) in this case she succeeds with her wits.

We come to you from Abington, Massachusetts, where we are performing as ghouls and zombies and other spooks in one of New England's finest haunted attractions. And we are counting the gorgeous leaves we see everywhere. Well, not really counting, but you know what we mean.

Happy haunting,
Dennis (Father, Satyavan, Yama) and Kimberly (Narrator, Savitri)

 

Direct download: Savitri.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:16pm EST

The Hen is in the Mountains

The Hen Is in the Mountains is a sibling tale, one of those in which (spoiler alert) the youngest of the brood succeeds in overcoming obstacles where his or her older siblings failed. (e.g. Cinderella or The Flying Ship) It also involves a girl marrying a beast (as in Beauty and the Beast), and the bride of a horrendous husband prowling in their home and finding horrible secrets (Bluebeard).

We come to you from Providence, RI, where we've been having a great time with Kimberly's sister Shannon, who is a guest star on this podcast. Yes, we said sister. As we explain in the podcast, Shannon is one of 5 siblings that Kimberly discovered only recently. She now has met two of them, and Shannon came out from Arizona to spend a few days with us exploring the Boston area.

We hope you find lost connections, and avoid standing on trap doors.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Ogre, Mysterious Voice), Kimberly (Ingrid, Sonia) and Shannon (Mother, Marta)

Direct download: The_Hen_is_In_the_Mountains.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:12pm EST

The Bottomless Cup

The Bottomless Cup is one of those stories about people getting gifts from elves, fairies, or other supernatural critters, and using those gifts foolishly or negligently. In some cases, the gift is a set of wishes rather than dishes – usually three of them, so that the person’s last foolish wish is to get the sausage off the end of his nose or some such. In this case the gift is more material, and the abuse of it comes in the form of neglect rather than rashness.

We bring this story from France because we recently brought ourselves from France, visiting the Eiffel Tower – which we climbed this time – and the magnificent Musee de la Musique, with 5 floors of strange and rare musical instruments as old as 2500 years. We also dropped in at the Louvre, one of the world’s greatest art museums, where we saw the Mona Lisa.

We come to you from Springfield, MA., hometown of Dr. Seuss, where we’ve just finished up our 2016 summer tour. We’ll be in New England through the end of October, after which we fly south for the winter.

Happy listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Elf, Captain, Neighbor) and Kimberly (Woman)

Direct download: The_Bottomless_Cup.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:21pm EST

The Lady Of Stavoren

The Lady Of Stavoren is a tale that has been told for centuries, in dozens of variations. Stavoren, on the coast of The Netherlands, is now a village of fewer than 1000 people. But 1000 years ago, it was a major seaport. Then during the Middle Ages, a sand bar formed in the harbor that made it impossible for ships to get in and out. As a result, the city fell into decline. This story, probably entirely fictitious, was created to explain how the sand bar got there. In 1969, a statue of the Lady Of Stavoren looking out onto the harbor was erected in the town.

You might notice that like our story of The Krakow Pigeons, this story explains how something originated as a result of someone’s rash, foolish, extravagant actions.

We come to you from Hackettstown, NJ, where we are in town to return to the Northeast Branch of the Warren County Library. We’ve concluded our tour of the southern states, and next we’ll be headed to Pennsylvania and New England to conclude the summer. With any luck, it will be a little cooler. Hope to see you at a show!

Happy listening!
Dennis (Narrator, Stefan) and Kimberly (Magrit, Servant)

Direct download: Lady_Of_Stavoren.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:50pm EST

The Krakow Pigeons

The Krakow Pigeons is a story from Poland that supposedly explains why the people of the city of Krakow have so much respect for pigeons, those nasty, pesky, obnoxious little -- oops, those birds which many people revile. It tells how a medieval prince named Henryk tried to unite Poland, which had been divided into five kingdoms. He failed, and the country remained divided until 1333 when King Casimir III took the throne.

We come to you from Jonesboro, AR in the middle of our summer tour. It's the 20th anniversary of our first yearly performance for the Jonesboro library.

We continue telling about our travels in Europe, this time focusing on Krakow, which was our favorite city. Old Town Krakow has the look of a fairy tale city, with many structures well preserved for centuries. We were able to see the fire-breathing statue of the famous dragon and Wawel Hill (which we climbed, just like the boys in our story). We mention that the famed astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) studied at the University Of Krakow (now called Jagiellonian University), which was founded in 1364-- by King Casimir III. Krakow was also home of Oskar Schindler's enamelware factory, now the site of two museums.

Happy Listening!
Dennis (Henryk, First Prince) and Kimberly (Narrator, Hans, Witch, Second Prince)

Direct download: The_Krakow_Pigeons.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:02pm EST

The Three Heirs

The Three Heirs is a tale from Germany, in the tradition of worldwide sibling rivalry yarns. As usual in these stories, the youngest brother gets the best of his older siblings; even though they are older, bigger and stronger, and consider him a simpleton, he triumphs with his honesty and wits. Compare the Russian story The Flying Ship and the Fool of the World and the Hispanic tale Juan Bobo. The latter even involves a door and a tree like the present story.

We come to you from Reno, Nevada, where we are in the midst of putting together our new production, Tales Afoot, which opens next month at libraries in Arkansas. The four stories included in this production are The Tortoise and the Hare, The Gingerbread Man, Racing the Troll, and Old Stormalong Races the Steamship.

We tell you more about out trip to Europe, this time discussing Vienna and Berlin. Vienna is home of one of the world’s greatest opera houses, one of the world’s tallest churches, and quite simply the world’s best chocolate cake (at Sacher Café). It also features the Stock im Eisen, a tree dating back to about 1400, full of nails that people once drove into it for good luck.  And oh yes, there are plenty of horse-drawn carriages around.

Berlin is the most modern city we visited in Europe, as so much of the old Berlin was destroyed in World War II.  We examined artwork on the remaining portions of the Berlin Wall and took our picture at Checkpoint Charlie, a legendary entry and exit point where the wall once stood. And we also saw many Buddy Bears, those distinctive fiberglass sculptures promoting peace.

We hope to catch you at a show this summer.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Father, Broderick, Farmer 1, Farmer 2, and Goblin 1) and Kimberly (Narrator, Peter, Hans, Goblin 2)

Direct download: The_Three_Heirs.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:25pm EST

The Crab Prince

The Crab Prince is a little-known story from Venice that has many similarities to the better-known Frog Prince. Like that story, it makes use of two themes common to many folktales: transformation of humans into animals (a tradition dating back at least to the Odyssey, in which Circe transforms men into swine) and the power of love to overcome evil -- i.e., break a curse. This includes Sleeping Beauty, among others.

We come to you from Sacramento, California, after wrapping up two very busy weeks in our old stomping grounds of the San Francisco Bay Area and just beyond, doing shows and workshops at schools and libraries every day.

We continue our account of our recent trip to Europe, with some details of Pompeii, an ancient city devastated by a volcano in the year 79; Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance; and Venice, the waterbound city where our story originated.

We're getting ready to head to Washington and Idaho for the final performances of our current production, and then we'll head to Reno to finish getting our new production together. Looking forward to bringing our new stories to a venue near you.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Fisherman, King, Beggar, Crab Prince) and Kimberly (Narrator, Griselda, Fairy Princess)

Direct download: The_Crab_Prince.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:23pm EST

The King's Ring

The King’s Ring is a story from Italy, which we’re not coming to you from, but would have been a couple of months ago. So before telling you the story, we’re telling you about half of our time in Italy (we’ll do the other half next time). This includes Pisa, with its famous leaning tower, Rome with its Forum and Colosseum and many other ruins, and Cinque Terra, a set of 5 colorful little seaside villages dating back about 1000 years.

In the story we meet a King who has lost his ring. A peasant posing as an astrologer comes to the rescue, but not in the manner you might expect.

We come to you from Los Angeles, where we’re meeting up with old friends (meaning friends we’ve known a long time, not friends who have advanced in years) and getting back on track after an accident that destroyed our old trailer. We have a new trailer, and we’re back on the road.

In Los Angeles, we have some performances at schools and a two-day theatrical residency at the Asian Youth Center, sponsored by International Paper. Then we’re headed north to San Francisco for several public performances at libraries. We hope to see you somewhere along the way.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Herald, Bystander, Antonio, Servant 2) and Kimberly (Narrator, King, Servant 1, Servant 3)

Upcoming Shows this April in the San Francisco Bay area - You are invited to free children's theatre at local libraries.

Direct download: The_Kings_Ring.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:30pm EST

The Quackling

The Quackling, from France, is an odd fable in which not only is the main character a talking animal, but it's taken for granted that inanimate objects can talk as well. It involves quite a suspension of disbelief, even to the point that in the original story there is no explanation given for why the duck doesn't just fly or swim to solve his problems. This story is of the type in which the main character makes clever use of what appear to be useless objects in order to get out of a jam, and win fame and fortune. This motif occurs not only in folktales, but also in other types of fiction. As we mention, it was used with a great deal of originality in the science fiction film Paycheck. This is yet another illustration of how even the most inventive modern stories are derived from folktales many centuries old.

We come to you from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, having just driven from Atlanta, where we landed after a monthlong tour of Europe. This included 6 days in Paris, where we not only visited the Eiffel Tower, but climbed it. We also toured the magnificent Palace Of Versailles, former home to royalty, luxury and historic events (it was built in the 17th Century, not the 18th as we say in the podcast). We went underneath the city streets in the Paris Catacombs, which are many miles of tunnels that have served as an ossiary (a place where bones are stored) for centuries. We visited a museum of musical instruments, viewing thousands of old, modern, curious and wonderful. And we toured the legendary Notre Dame Cathedral, which has been wowing people for 800 years.

Next month, Italy.

Happy listening,
Dennis (Narrator, The River, The Hive, King, Citizen 2) and Kimberly (Quackling, The Ladder, Citizen 1

Direct download: The_Quackling.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:21pm EST