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 story and travel tales.

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

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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

The Tar Baby is a classic African-American story from slavery days, inspired by a similar story from Africa, presented especially for Black History Month (February).

Read along script

The Tar Baby is a trickster tale about the Rabbit (often called Brer Rabbit), who is a recurring character in these folktales. The story is a study in irony, because (spoiler alert) first the Rabbit gets into a jam only by putting up too much of a fuss and becoming unnecessarily angry; and then he gets out of it by pretending to fear something he really loves. It's like stepping into quicksand, getting stuck because you struggle too much, and then getting your enemy to help you out of it by convincing him you really don't want out.

We come to you from Boca Raton, Florida, as we get ready to make appearances at the Davie/Cooper City Library in Davie. (We guess Cooper City lost the coin toss.) It's one of our presentations funded by Target grants, for which we are ever grateful. And we discuss our recent adventure at the Brevard Zoo and Treetop Trek in Melbourne, FL.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Fox) and Kimberly (Narrator, Rabbit)

Direct download: Tar_Baby.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:32 PM

Winter has officially begun. And in honor of the season of Christmas trees, hot chocolate, ice skating, and heavy traffic at the mall, we bring you a story about winter – and summer – from the Acoma tribe of Native Americans in New Mexico. More specifically, it's a story about the changing seasons, and the importance of cooperation and balance.

We come to you from Greenville, SC, where we've been welcoming winter every year for the past few years. Looking forward to Florida next month and wishing you the jolliest of holidays.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Summer.Chief) and Kimberly (Narrator, Winter, Daughter)

Direct download: Acoma_Winter_and_Summer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:41 PM

"The Crocodile, The Zebras and the Hyena" is a story that we adapted from a traditional tale related by Likua Kambembe, an African storyteller. He's a member of the !Xun (We dare you to try to pronounce it) Council of Elders, and helps direct the Kulimatji Project, which preserves the tribe's folklore.

This is an origin story; i.e., a story that's intended to explain how something originated.  In this case, it's about how the crocodile came to hide in the water and ambush other animals.

We come to you from Greenville, SC, after a busy couple of weeks presenting performances and workshops for school and library residences, thanks to Target grants. And we returned for our third engagement at The National Theatre in Washington, DC.

Happy Listening and Happy Thanksgiving!
Dennis (Narrator, Crocodile, Zebra 2) and Kimberly (Narrator, Rabbit, Kangaroo, Zebra 1, Hyena)

Direct download: The_Crocodile.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:50 AM

From Uganda comes this tale about how two jungle critters who were once friends became foes, and in the process tells why frogs have no tails and why lizards have puffy cheeks. It seems appropriate because like the frog and the lizard, we recently swung on a rope from a tree when we went ziplining in the back yard of some friends near Lima, NY, where we recently performed.

We come to you from Abington, MA, where we've been geting into the fall spirit by performing at a haunted attraction, as we love to do at this time of year.  And we ask your help in finding a couple of stories requested by a young fan who left us an absolutely adorable message.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Frog) and Kimberly (Narrator, Lizard)

  • Upcoming shows in Washington D.C., Seaford DE, Wytheville and Grayson, VA
Direct download: The_Lizard_and_the_Frog.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:27 AM

"Talk", from Ghana in Africa, is a cumulative tale (meaning that phrases are repeated and added to as in "The House That Jack Built") about what happens when inanimate objects start to talk. For one thing, you feel like you're in a Disney movie. But also, this story could be considered a fable about how earth-shaking events affect everyone, no matter what their occupation or social status. Or a fable about how some people consder something weird, and others find it normal. Or just a plain fun story.

We come to you from West Warwick, Rhode Island (It's a suburb of Providence like everything else in Rhode Island), where we've been helping our son Zephyr get ready to open his own haunted house for Halloween, as he's dreamed of doing for years. We'll also be performing at this and/or another haunted house as our schedule allows.

The summer season has wound down, and now we're winding up for fall -- we have a busy scheule coming up, thanks to 12 Target grants. We hope to see you at a show.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Farmer, Net, Bather, Stool) and Kimberly (Narrator, Yam, Dog, Tree, Branch, Stone, Weaver, Fisherman, Chief)

Direct download: Pod_131.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:41 PM

From Jewish tradition somewhere in Eastern Europe comes this charming and inspiring tale about... well, charming and inspiring tradition. As popularized by the picture book of the same name by Phoebe Gilman, this story tells of a gift made by a grandfather for a grandchild (in Gilman's version, the child is a boy; in our version, she isn't) -- and subsequently remade several times. It begins as a blanket, then as it is worn out, it is transformed into smaller and smaller items. In the process, it delivers a yarn (pun intended) about preserving one's heritage and being resourceful with available resources.

We come to you from Chicopee, Masachusetts, near Springfield -- birthplace of basketball and Dr. Seuss (at nearly the same time). We wonder if Dr. Seuss was a bouncing baby boy. Anyway, we recently took a jaunt down to Connecticut, where we attended some live theatre. First, we saw the musical "LMNOP" in Chester, Connecticut. Adapted from the novel Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (a former college classmate of Dennis), the story is a sort of satirical modern fairy tale about a country where letters of the alphabet are banned one at a time, making it very hard for people to communicate. It's a fun story especially for language lovers, and the production was outstanding, with a cast of great singers.

We also attended two performances in New London by the National Theatre of the Deaf, whom we've been wanting to catch in action for years. We saw two performances of the same show so we could carefully observe the sign language used by people who use it every day. They did an entertaining presentation of fables and comic skits. Like many of us in theatre, they make something from nothing -- or at least almost nothing.

Happy Listening!
Dennis (Narrator, Grandpa) and Kimberly (Narrator, Mother, Girl)

* Read along as you listen to the story

(Photo: Nathan Hale Schoolhouse in New London, CT)

Direct download: Something_From_Nothing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:35 PM

"The Lion and the Three Cows" is a fable from Afghanistan – the first Afghani story we've ever presented – about discord and mistrust, standing together versus falling alone. We come to you from Virginia, where we're doing a return engagement at 4 libraries before moving on to North Carolina and New Jersey.

We've just finished our Midwest stint, after which we zipped across country to Baltimore to attend the annual convention of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) in order to talk to principals about our assembly programs and residencies. The convention was held right downtown, next to the waterfront berthing the historic ship USS Constellation, next to Camden Yards where the Orioles were swatting at baseballs, and near the birthplace of Babe Ruth. 

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, White Cow, Lion) and Kimberly (Narrator, Black Cow, Brown Cow)

Direct download: The_Lion_and_the_Three_Cows.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:32 AM