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Act!vated Stories
Family friendly folktales and travel tales
Act!vated Stories is presented by Act!vated Story Theatre a national touring theatre troupe for children and their families. Since 1988, the Act!vated Actors have toured the continental US and beyond, bringing live educational theatre to students at schools and libraries. Podcasting comedic folktales to you from somewhere on the road once a month or so since 2006.

May 24, 2007

"The Snow Maiden" is a tale from Russia that symbolizes the determination to find hope and cheer in the long harsh winters. In some versions, there is an additional motif about the importance of trust and the dire consequences of not trusting - somewhat similar to the German legend of "Lohengrin", among others. It was such a version of this story that we included in one of our productions 16 years ago, when we were just touring the San Francisco Bay Area. Zephyr, of course, was a baby at the time, and we hired other performers to round out the cast. For this production, our additonal performer was 8-year-old Megan Cohen, the first homeschooled child we ever met.

Well, for this podcast, we are fortunate enough to have another very talented youngster fill the role: Devon Wood, a 10-year-old Iowan whom we met last year when we did a residency at her school. She and her mother and aunt drove many miles to see us perform this week at a school in Altoona, Iowa. We wanted so much to use Devon's talents on our podcast that we recorded it ahead of schedule, before we'd even outlined a script. No problem: she can improvise with the best of us, and everything you hear her say just came off the top of her head. 

Bicycling Capital
We also discuss our recent visit to Sparta, Wisconsin, which bills itself the Bicycling Capital of America. In addition to being the home of the world's largest bicycle, the town is the site of the intriguing Deke Slayton Memorial Space and Bike Museum. Space and bicycles in the same facility?? Hey, why not. Weren't Wilbur and Orville bicycle mechanics?

Deke Slayton, one of the Mercury 7 astronauts, grew up in Sparta and attended Sparta High School. Alongside memorabilia of his distingusihed career, you can view some really incredible speicmens of bicycle design from the entire history of the critter, including some about which very little is known. See an ice skating bike with a blade insted of a front wheel, a lawnmower bike with mower blades up front (the Huffy), a velocipede, a Draisine, and other contraptions too numerous to mention. (And this is only half the museum's collection--the others are in storage!)

Oh yes, and there's a delightfully dreadful bike safety film from 1963 called "One Got Fat", which has kids riding bikes wearing hokey monkey masks and tails, and meeting their demise one by one when they ignore various safety rules. (The tenth rider in the group, the only human, follows the rules and survives, and is therefore able to gorge on the lunches of everyone else--thus the title.) It's amazing to think this film - narrated by the superannuated Edward Everett Horton, who among other things narrated the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons - was actually shown to school students, some of whom it may have traumatized for life. But as a kitschy relic, it alone is worth a visit to the museum.

And we mustn't forget the gift shop, in which you can purchase bicycle-shaped pasta. How could we possibly pass that up!

Happy Listening!
Dennis (the narrator), Kimberly (Marfa) and Zephyr (Vasili) Goza
with Devon Wood as the Snow Maiden

P.S. You can now find us at Odeo (odeo/24cd4db7aea23f13)