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 Gifts Of Wali Dad

It isn’t really a holiday story, but The Gifts Of Wali Dad from India (or is it Pakistan?) seems appropriate for the occasion, with all of its generous gift-giving. Collected by famed folklorist Andrew Lang, who heard it from a British army officer stationed in the Punjab (which was later split between India and Pakistan) who in turn heard it from a native of the region, it seems to be an absurdist cautionary tale about the consequences of being too extravagant. See if you can spot the reference to Cinderella and the (more subtle) reference to Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

We’re currently in Greenville, SC, where we’ve been selling Christmas trees as a fundraiser. We’re getting ready to make our way back west as we do at about this time every year. But first we have an exciting little detour that we’ll be telling you about later. Stay tuned.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Wali Dad, King, First Servant) and Kimberly (Narrator, Jeweler, Messenger, Queen, Peri, Second Servant)

Direct download: The_Gifts_Of_Wali_Dad.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:28pm EST

The Troll and the Shoes

The Troll and the Shoes is one of those stories about racing in which (as in The Tortoise and the Hare) the hero wins by means of some skill besides sheer speed -- i.e., determination, imagination, knowledge, and/or (as in the present case) trickery. This will be one of the stores we will be presenting next summer at libraries for the summer reading theme "Ready, Set, Read."

We come to you from Bowie, MD., having just wound up our fall stint in New England, and now beginning to migrate south for the winter. We were able to attend and perform at the New England Library Association's annual conference (this time in Manchester, NH).

On the way south, we were able to catch up with a friend who is now one of the crew for the Kalmar Nyckel, a replica of a Seventeenth Century Dutch merchant vessel. We were able to go on board and examine the incredible workmanship of the vessel up close.

We also went into New York City, and saw not one but two Broadway musicals in one day. The second was Matilda (based on the Roald Dahl book), which was merely good. The first was Allegiance, which was absolutely fantastic. A comic/tragic/poignant story about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, it featured excellent songs and choreography presented by an outstanding cast. Among them, playing two roles, was George Takei, best known for the original Star Trek series. With as much theatre as we've been exposed to, we're difficult to impress. This show really floored us.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Troll) and Kimberly (Greta, Rita)

Direct download: The_Troll_and_the_Shoes.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:46am EST

The Two Storks

The Two Storks is a transformation-into-an-animal yarn from what is now Iraq, though it hasn’t always been called that. It takes place in the city of Baghdad, which has been called that for just about as long as anyone can remember. Like certain other tales, including Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, it features a plot complication in the form of a magic spell that the person casting it is unable to reverse.

We come to you from Nickerson State Park on beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where we’ve been catching up on our biking. We’ve ridden the entire Cape Cod Rail Trail (22 miles) roundtrip, which means at least 44 miles, plus several more miles in side trips. We’ve finally concluded our summer season, our second busiest ever, and picked up a late addition of two performances at the Pawtucket Arts Festival in Rhode Island.

We’ve also managed to make it into Boston a couple of times, including an attendance of the short film session of the Boston Film Festival. One of the films we saw, A Man Wakes Up, was a hilarious film without dialogue, written by and starring Amos Glick, who happens to be one of our former cast members, way back when we were still based in San Francisco about a million years ago. He didn’t know we were coming, and the look on his face was priceless when he spotted us in the lobby and slowly figured out who we were. Just goes to show you: you’d better watch out, because you never know when we may pop in.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Prince, Omar, Guard) and Kimberly (Narrator, Adviser, Wizard, Princess)


Direct download: The_Two_Storks.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:14pm EST

Vasalisa and Baba Yaga

Vasalisa and Baba Yaga brings together two characters from Russian folklore who each appear in several other stories. Vasalisa is a sort of Russian Cinderella/ Hansel and Gretel, and Baba Yaga is the nasty old witch/ogre who lives in the deep dark forest and eats bad children.

We come to you from Dedham, Massachusetts (a suburb of Boston), where we just performed for the summer reading program. One of the stories we performed was Davy Crockett, which was appropriate, since we performed on August 17, which was David (Davy) Crockett's birthday. Three more performances after that, and our busy summer is a wrap.

A big thank you to a family of longtime podcast listeners who traveled a great distance and even got a hotel room so they could see us perform in Williamsport, PA. It really made our day.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Stepmother, Kookla) and Kimberly (Vasalisa, Mother, Baba Yaga)

Direct download: Vasalisa.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:02am EST

The Fairy Palace

The Fairy Palace, a story from China, is one of those quest stories about going on a trek to retrieve or obtain something of great value. It also features another common motif: someone with extraordinary skill in weaving, spinning, or sewing. And it really does involve fairies. And a palace. In our case, it also contains a few references to other stories, including Jack and the Beanstalk, The Emperor's New Clothes, Harry Potter, and the film Casablanca.

We come to you from Delaware Seashore State Park, as we take a rare 4-day break in the middle of this, our second-busiest summer ever. We're wrapping up our July appearances at 33 Delaware libraries and 5 Maryland libraries, before going on to New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

On the way out here from Arkansas, we were able to stop at a log cabin in Tennessee that we've mentioned many times over the years in our popular story about the legendary hero who was born there: David ("Davy") Crockett. It looked very much as we'd pictured it, only more so. It really is right beside the Nolichucky River, which really does exist.

We then spent Independence Day at Kiptopeke State Park on Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, hiking and kayaking and exploring the terrain in quest of something else that rhymes with those two things – a futile quest since we don't have bikes at the moment. But we did discover a fleet of concrete ships (we'll pause for a moment while that sinks in) that served during World War II when steel was hard to come by. Evidently they worked okay, because they're still afloat now, just waiting for double-takes.

We've also been on a mission to put our feet on almost every board on almost every boardwalk on the East Coast, including those in Ocean City MD, Rehoboth Beach DE, and Bethany Beach DE. We especially enjoyed Ocean City because of Trimper's Rides, an old-fashioned amusement arcade that's been a fixture since before your grandfather was a grandfather.

We hope the rest of your summer is as charming and memorable as a boardwalk (not a bored walk).

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Merchant, Son, Passerby, Second Fairy, Third Fairy) and Kimberly (Narrator, Mother, Old Woman, First Fairy)

Direct download: The_Fairy_Palace.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:25pm EST

The Tortoise and the Hare

The summer is racing along at a rabbit's pace, so it's a good time to bring you "The Tortoise and the Hare", popularized by the Greek slave Aesop, who told a great many fabulous fables. In later centuries, many similar stories sprang up in many cultures around the world. This is a sort of sneak preview of the story for our audiences, as next summer we'll be unveiling a stage version of the tale that will incorporate some of the elements we've put into this podcast. By the way, do you recognize the references to other stories and songs we sneak into this story? (If you don't see the answers below.)

We come to you from a sizzling Hot Springs, Arkansas, where we're delighted to be performing at the library once again. It's a pretty busy month, but since we have much more free time this month than we will have next month, we've been trying to play tourist while we can. We have seen dinosaur footprints in New Mexico, explored a cave and hiking trail near a waterfall in Oklahoma, and went swimming in crystal clear water in Blanchard Springs, Arkansas.

And now the marathon summer is officially underway! Hope to see you in one of our pit stops.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Narrator, Tortoise, Hare 2, Girl) and Kimberly (Hare, Hare 3) 

(ANSWERS: The Wizard Of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, The Tar Baby, Bfer Rabbit and the Briar Patch; and the songs "The Battle Of New Orleans", "The Caisson Song" and "Into The Woods".)

Direct download: The_Tortoise_and_the_Hare.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:48pm EST

The Story Spirits

It's just like our last story, only very different. "The Story Spirits", from Korea, examines the traditional theme of an individual who wants to keep stories all for himself—and thereby demonstrates how important it is to share them with everyone.

We come to you from Santa Fe, rich in art, history and Native American culture. We've also spent time recently in Albuquerque, and at the Grand Canyon. We took a train ride there from Williams, AZ (the last town on the old Route 66 to be bypassed by the new freeway, Interstate 40), an experience which included a theatrical encounter with some Wild West hombres.

We also spent a couple of days hiking and exploring t Bandelier National Monument, an archaeological site where you can view the remnants of cliff dwellings once occupied by the Anansazi for centuries.  What stories they must have had to tell!

Happy (Santa Fe and other) trails to you. And happy listening.

Dennis (Young Jin-Sun, Adult Jin-Sun, Spirit 1, Spirit 3, Spirit 5, Spirit 7) and Kimberly (Narrator, Byung-Ho, Spirit 2, Spirit 4, Spirit 6, Screaming Bride)

Direct download: The_Story_Spirits.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:17pm EST

Anansi and the Story Box

Anansi and the Story Box is a tale from Ghana in Africa, about the legendary spider-man hero of the Ashanti tribe, and how he brought stories to the world. It bears certain similarities to the Greek myths of Pandora and Prometheus, and includes a plot point similar to The Tar Baby, which made its way from Africa to America.

We come to you from Reno, NV, where we are putting together our new show that will premiere this summer.  We recently returned to our roots in the San Francisco Bay Area, where we hiked a trail at Land's End, near The Golden Gate. We also took a ride on the Niles Canyon Railway, a vintage train line that runs between the Bay Area towns of Sunol and Fremont.  The Fremont station is located in an area known as Niles, which was the early home of silent movie-making before it was relocated to Hollywood.

We hope you will enjoy this story, and the great lengths to which our resident arachnid went to get it.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Minor God, Nyame, Python, Lion, Fairy) and Kimberly (Narrator, Anansi)

Direct download: Anansi_and_the_Story_Box.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:46am EST

The Four Puppets

The Four Puppets is a story from the country traditionally called Burma, but now known as Myanmar. We bring it to you from Dublin, just in time for St. Patrick's Day. Okay, so it's not Dublin in Ireland, but Dublin in California, back in the San Francisco Bay Area where we got our start almost 27 years ago. But this Dublin seems just as serious about St. Patrick's Day as the other one.

Since we last saw you, we performed in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. And we visited three fascinating attractions in Arkansas.

The first was the Jerome-Rohwer Interpretative Center in McGehee, a museum preserving the experiences of the thousands of Japanese-Americans who were interned (a fancy word for imprisoned) at the Jerome and Rohwer camps, which stood nearby. Among the prisoners was 5-year-old George Takei, a future star of Star Trek.

Then in North Little Rock, we toured a submarine. That's right, a submarine on the Arkansas River. And equally surprising, it flies a Turkish flag as well as the American flag. You'd be right if you guessed that there's a colorful history there. The USS Razorback was commissioned in World War II and served the U.S. Navy for many years before being sold to Turkey, where it served the Turkish navy for many more years, under the name TCG Muratreis. Now it's the USS Razorback again, and it's back in the U.S., and you can go aboard.

Then we were off to Hurricane River Cave, where we were not content to take the regular tour like normal people, but opted for the 4-hour extreme tour, which involved climbing, crawling through tight spots (if you think a submarine is close quarters, you should try this), wading in a river, and getting cold and covered with clay. We loved it!

Here's hoping you have a month of adventures.

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Ang, Father) and Kimberly (everyone else)

Direct download: The_Four_Puppets.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:44pm EST

The Snake and the Frog

The Snake and the Frog is a trickster tale from the Island of Andros in the Bahamas. It's similar to many Anansi stories, and for good reason: Anansai the spiderman, according to legend, made his way from Africa to the New World to comfort and inspire slaves. Thus, we have many Anansi stories in the U.S., as well as in these islands just offshore.

We chose this story because we recently returned from a 4-day trip to The Bahamas, visiting the cities of Freeport and Nassau. At Lucaya Marketplace in Freeport, we encountered a colorful character dressed in traditional costume, who told us about the Bahamian festival of Junkanoo (he believed the name to be derived from John Canoe), which unfortunately we'd just missed. It's a time of great revelry celebrating, he told us, freedom, peace, love and other good things. (Or good "tings", as the locals would say.) The dancing is accompanied by percussive music they call Kalik, apparently from the word click.

We also enjoyed a couple of the wonderful beaches for which these islands are noted, including one called Junkanoo. This was in the city of Nassau, which we found a fun and colorful place to stroll around. We were able to watch artisans make and sell their crafts at the famous Straw Market, and visited the curious Nassau Library, which was formerly a jail, and the Queen's Staircase, built by newly freed slaves as a token of thanks.

And we had a wonderful time just being on the cruise ship, enjoying the atmosphere and the entertainment and the great food and the fellow passengers. We're ready to do it again!

Happy Listening,
Dennis (Frog, Goat, Rooster) and Kimberly (Narrator, Snake, Owl)

Direct download: The_Snake_and_the_Frog.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:35pm EST