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 Legend Of Slappy Hooper is an American tall tale, suitable to accompany our belated wish that you had a great observance of the American holiday Thanksgiving. You will notice certain similarities to better known American tall tales like Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill and Old Stormalong – all of whom were also men of gigantic stature and extraordinary abilities.

This tall tale, however, is of more recent vintage, apparently having originated sometime in the early Twentieth Century. It first appeared in print in 1946, in a book written by folklorist/ novelist Jack Conroy, who also wrote about (and possibly embellished) two other tall tales. His book was illustrated by Arna Bontemps. The work of Conroy and Bontemps had been funded several years earlier by the federal government, thanks to the Works Progress Administration, or WPA (later renamed the Works Projects Administration), a program designed to put Americans back to work after The (Not So) Great Depression. The WPA provided jobs in a wide variety of fields, from construction to the arts.

The story of Slappy Hooper was retold more recently (1993) in another picture book by Aaron Shepard, who added a few twists of his own devising.  Among these was the florist episode, which we have borrowed with a tip of the hat to Mr. Shepard.

We come to you from Greenville, SC, having just completed a weeklong residency at a school in Summerville, SC. Before that, we drove down from Massachusetts and along the way we dropped in at an amazing attraction in Charlotte, NC called Exit Strategy. In short, we have begun our winter migration southward.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Slappy, Narrator, Bystander 1, Jim Dandy, Uncle, Mayor) and Kimberly (Narrator, Baker, Florist, Aunt, Bystander 2)

Direct download: Slappy_Hooper.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:13 PM

A classic Greek legend/ myth about one of the most horrifying creatures of all time, arriving just in time for the haunting season. She was defeated by a hero who learned to "think outside the box" before that expression was even trendy.

We come to you from Foxboro, MA, which has more going for it than the New England Patriots. For one thing, it's the home of the incredibly cool interactive adventure 5 Wits, where our son Zephyr works. And this year, it;s the home of Beelzebub's CarnEvil, the Halloween attraction he's dreamed of opening since he was 9 years old. It's finally up and running and scaring the wits out of people.

Happy and Haunted Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, King, Perseus, Guest 1, Graeae 2) and Kimberly (Narrator, Medusa, Guest 2, Guest 3, Graeae 1, Graeae 3)

Direct download: Perseus_and_Medusa.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:49 PM

From Scotland comes The Two Sisters and the Hag, one of many versions of this story found in many countries, contrasting how good behavior is rewarded and how bad behavior is punished. We come to you from New Rochelle, NY, site of our most recent performances. We took some time to spend a day strolling in New York City, seeing the new memorial at the World Trade Center and the High Line, a former elevated train track that has now been converted into a city park. Before that, we were in Newport, Rhode Island, where we soared high over the water at Island Style Parasailing, the first time we've ever tried sky-skiing. We hope it won't be the last. And we've spent a great deal of time during the past month doing volunteer work for our son Zephyr, a former member of our theatrical troupe. who is putting the final touches on a haunted house he is opening in Foxboro, MA at the Orpheum Theatre. This fulfills a dream (read: obsession) he's had since he was nine. Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Well, Tree, Hag) and Kimberly (Narrator, Hannah 1, Hannah 2, Cow, Bag Of Gold)

Direct download: The_Two_Sisters_and_the_Hag.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:25 PM

The Monkey's Heart is a little fable from India about a crocodile that tries to trick a monkey into supplying its heart for a strange snack. There is a similar story in China in which a dragon rather than a crocodile is the villain.

We come to you from North Kingstown, RI. We recently wrapped up our summer tour, and now we'll be in New England for the next month or so. 

We recently had an opportunity to do some hiking and climbing on the amazing rock formations in Purgatory Chasm State Park in Sutton, Massachusetts. It's like having a naturally designed playground and rock climbing gym.

And we paid another visit to Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield, MA, which was the Good Doctor's hometown and inspired the imagery in many of his books. The sculptor who designed this amazingly realistic tribute happened to be Dr. Seuss' stepdaughter. 

Happy listening (and watch out for the oobleck!)

Dennis (Mr. Crocodile, Hunter, Narrator) and Kimberly (Mrs. Crocodile, Vendor, Snake, Monkey, Narrator)

Direct download: The_Monkeys_Heart.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:25 PM

"The Precious Cow" is a little-known fable from Africa about the importance of valuing strong family ties above material wealth.  As we point out, it offers a bit of a twist to the "rule of three", a common characteristic of many popular folktales.

We come to you from Chapel Hill, NC, having just completed a return engagement at the High Point Library. Among our audiences there were some regular podcast listeners, the delightful Singleton family, so we decided to let them say howdy on the next podcast – namely, this one.

We also discuss our adventures climbing Pilot Mountain in North Carolina, and zip lining in North Carolina and Arkansas.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Father, Oldest Son, Middle Son) and Kimberly (Narrator, Youngest Son, Cow)

Direct download: The_Precious_Cow.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:42 PM

The Golden Spinning Wheel is a story from the country formerly known as Bohemia, and then Czechoslovakia, and now The Czech Republic. The story is the subject of a picture book by Lisl Weil in which musical notes are printed across the page along with illustrations of the story. The musical notes are from a piece of music inspired by the story, composed by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904), who was fascinated by the folklore and folk music of his country, and infused much of his music with the flavor of both. He did the same for American folk music after spending 3 years here, and his masterpiece, the symphony called "From the New World", has been featured in Hollywood westerns. (The snippet of his music we use during the spinning wheel scene is from "Songs My Mother Taught Me".)

We come to you from Heber Springs, AR, after making our annual trek across the country to begin our summer tour – which commenced this time in Fayetteville, AR. We had time along the way to see some interesting sights, including the Omaha Zoo, the Buffalo National River in Arkansas and Bluff Dwellers Cavern in Missouri. Are we having fun yet? Czech!

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, King, Dwarf, Guard) and Kimberly (Narrator, Dornischka, Stepmother, Stepsister)

Direct download: The_Golden_Spinning_Wheel.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:23 PM

"The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies" from Scotland is a sort of trickster tale, a type of story in which a seemingly helpless individual triumphs by his (or in this case her) wits. It's also a cumulative story, meaning that it involves repetition, as new elements are added to the plot – somewhat like baking a cake, as our heroine does.

We come to you from Reno Nevada, our annual pit stop where we put an old show into storage and whip up a new one in our theatrical kitchen. We think of the month of May as an excuse for Kimberly to sew new costumes and Dennis to write new scripts and music. We hope you can sample the end result of our recipes in the near future.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Fair Judge, Fairy King) and Kimberly (Margaret, Tea Kettle, Cat, Dog, Baby, Narrator)

Direct download: The_Woman_Who_Flummoxed_the_Fairies.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:13 PM

Our story this month is "How the Kangaroo Got Its Pouch",  an Australian nature myth. Since it deals with kangaroo mothers and how they acquired the ability to carry their young around easily, we thought it would be a suitable story for Mothers' Day, which is hopping up in May.

We're coming to you this time from Reno, NV, where we made a brief detour to buy a new touring vehicle. We bought it and got it ready in about 3 days, during which time we were able to spend Easter with Kimberly's parents.  Now we're headed back to the San Francisco Bay Area, where we have a few more performances before we start gearing up for the summer season and our annual trek across the continent. We hope to catch up with you somewhere in the Outback.

Happy Listening, Mate
Dennis (Narrator, Hunter, Byarnee, Kangaroo 2) and Kimberly (Mama, Joey, Wombat, Kangaroo 1)

Direct download: How_the_Kangaroo_Got_Its_Pouch.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:52 AM

From Norway comes this classic story about a princess who was very charming except that she had no sense of humor.  This tale is rather unusual in that it's both a Rule Of Three story and a cumulative story.

Rule Of Three refers to the three-part structure that many stories (and jokes) have: The Three Little Pigs, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, etc. In this case, there are three brothers who each undertake a task in turn.

A cumulative story (sometimes called a chain story) involves a series of actions in which something is repeated -- in this case, the actions all involve the goose. For additional examples of cumultive stories we have done, see Simple Ivan, The Drum, The Gingerbread Man and Something From Nothing -- as well as the familiar nursery rhyme "The House That Jack Built".

We come to you from Needles, California, having driven across country as we do at this time every year. In just a few days, we have endured sub-zero termperatures and monstrous sandstorms, and now we're in beach weather again. Whatever the weather where you are, we hope your day will be brightened by this story.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, King, Funny Man, Peter, Hans, Man, Blacksmith) and Kimberly (Narrator, Princess, Herald, Paul, Cook, Goose Woman, Seamstress)

Direct download: The_Princess_Who_Couldnt_Laugh.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:17 AM

The Tichborne Dole is a legend from England that may be true or based on true events. It supposedly occurred around 1150, and may explain the origin of a yearly custom in Hampshire, England, in which the aristocratic Tichborne family gives flour to the poor every March 25.  The custom supposedly follows the last wishes of Lady Maybela Tichborne, who was very charitable and also, apparently, very tough and determined. She was reputed to be such a heroic figure that even the wind, normally very blustery in March, cooperated in securing her legacy.

We come to you from the very windy Oklahoma, having just driven from Jacksonville, Florida to Albuquerque, and then made our way back east toward Memphis. Phew! With all of our driving and residencies at schools and libraries, we still managed to drop in for a "spell" at The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando, and take a leisurely train ride from Albuquerque to the colorful and historic little city of Santa Fe, where we indulged in a walking tour.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Roger, Servant 2) and Kimberly (Narrator, Maybela, Doctor, Servant 1)

Direct download: The_Tichborne_Dole.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:27 PM