Oral folklore is by nature not a gentle package. There are high stakes, sometimes death, trickery, characters who are greedy, selfish and others who are kind, gentle and generous. Folklore, put simply, is human nature. Every culture has its tie to oral storytelling. Since the invention of the printing press, we have had the unique opportunity to distribute world stories from different cultures, in print. This of course, is a condensed explanation.
Since folklore has so many dangerous story elements, it doesn't always work well within the American psyche. As a culture we want to shield our children, exposing only the goodness of life; even though we know that our children will find violence, sadness, exploitation in other ways. Life will make its way to our kids.
|Mara's 2 Year Old Storytelling Class, It is never to young to start telling stories!|
|Animal Rhythms: Frog and Hen Here Arts Center 2007|
|Coyote Being Put Together Again in Coyote's Dance|
I have also told these stories to children who have seen and felt too much in their young lives; who may have been abused, neglected, and raised in unbelievable poverty and circumstances. These kids need to hear that when when one character takes advantage of another, consequences happen. They can imagine their own path out of the dark shadowy forest, into the sunlight path and home to the warm cottage. They need to hear stories of bravery, success and kindness. These stories become helpful tools in their own survival.
For every critic who tells me that folklore is too scary, too dangerous, an unnecessary tool in education, and not a selling point for the theater, I say this; tell a story to a young person. Watch their face. See their excitement and then visit this child in a week. I guarantee that they will be begging for the story to be told again!
|Students after seeing Animal Rhythms|
Performance Coyote's Dance Photo: Dan Ozminkowski