Jul 31, 2008
"Stone Soup" is not only a popular folk tale with variants in many cultures and countries, it's also become a proverbial expression of sorts -- not to mention the name of a popular magazine for children. In some versions of the tale, the cornucopian object might be a nail, a button, or even an axe. And in some versions there is only one miserly individual involved, as opposed to a whole village. But there is something particularly resonant about the image of getting nourishment from a stone, and even more so about being able to feed an entire community, even if it involves a little deception.
One reason for the story's endurance is that it can be interpreted in a number of ways. There's the concept, for instance, of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. There's the importance of pitching in to help your neighbors -- it takes a village to feed a village. There's the principle of making something from nothing, or at least being productive in difficult times. And of course there's the motif of applying psychology to encourage cooperation -- prompting people to contribute by appealing to their pride in creating a desirable outcome, rather than just telling them their efforts are needed (somewhat similar to Tom Sawyer's trick with the fence.) We come to you from the outskirts of Philadelphia, where we've returned to perform again at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Zephyr rejoins us after spending a couple of weeks in Winston-Salem, while Dennis and Kimberly report on their recent visit to Pennsylvania's capital city, Harrisburg, where they took a pleasant bike ride on a 20-mile loop that took them one of the finest nature preserves they've ever seen.
Dennis (Soldier, villagers), Kimberly (Narrator, Villagers), Zephyr (Villagers, including the Joker)