This collection of video clips on storytelling, including examples from master storytellers, is included in the Drama Arts Toolkit.
Storyteller Anndrena Belcher tells the story of two sisters—one kind and considerate, the other lazy and greedy—and their separate adventures in a land they discover at the bottom of their well. In telling the story, Anndrena invites young people in the audience to assume roles and participate in the story. This Appalachian story is from Program 2 of the KET series Telling Tales.
Show to demonstrate how young children can be actively involved in telling or reading a story.
Discuss life lessons and themes illustrated in the story.
Use in conjunction with either “Goin’ to Boston” or “Weevily Wheat” from KET’s Dancing Threads series and Old Music for New Ears programs featuring Appalachian musicians to explore how music, dance, and drama help define specific groups and reflect unique histories, situations, and perspectives.
Little Deer and Mother Earth
In this story, humans are killing too many of their animal relatives, threatening the delicate balance of nature. Marilou Awiakta, of Cherokee/Appalachian heritage, tells how the animals take defensive action. The story, from Program 7 of the KET series Telling Tales, illustrates the Native American principle of “taking only what you need with respect and gratitude.”
Use with a study of Native American culture/history—the Cherokee people, in particular—and the function of stories in these cultures.
Use in conjunction with a science unit on interdependence and balance in nature.
Show to kick off a conservation campaign.
Cat and Rat
In this story, the rat loses his tail to the cat in a game of mumblety-peg. Storytellers Tom Bledsoe and Rich Kirby tell this Appalachian tale through the various characters the rat meets as he tries to get his tail back. It is taken from Program 6 of the KET series Telling Tales.
Show as an example of cumulative tales and songs, having students identify others they know or create one of their own.
Analyze elements of performance or use to demonstrate duo acting, internal rhythm, and the use of repetition.
Pair with “The Buzzard and the Monkey” and “Little Deer and Mother Earth” to compare/contrast animal stories from various cultures and traditions.
The Buzzard and the Monkey
John O’Neal, performing as the legendary character Junebug Jabbo Jones, tells a story that explains why the buzzard eats only things that are already dead. A classic type of folk tale, “The Buzzard and the Monkey” is based on an African-American tale told to O’Neal by Louise Anderson of Jacksonville, North Carolina. The excerpt is from Program 3 of the KET series Telling Tales, in which master storytellers bring a variety of traditional tales to life in front of a student audience. The series includes 16 programs, each 15 minutes long. Ten of the stories come from Appalachian culture, four have African roots, and two are grounded in Native American tradition.
Discuss similarities and differences between storytelling and acting.
Use as an example of a “why” story and a prompt for encouraging students to write their own.
Use as an example of oral tradition.
Include in a study of African-American culture/history.
Use in conjunction with “Gospel Train,” “So Go Rabbit,” and “Rosebud-Trinidad” from the KET series Old Music for New Ears and “Little Johnny Brown” from the KET series Dancing Threads to explore how music, dance, and drama help define specific groups and reflect unique histories, situations, and perspectives.
Little Jack and Big Jack
Roadside Theater, from Appalshop in Whitesburg, KY, performs a humorous Appalachian tale about young Jack, who saves his brother, Big Jack, by outwitting a king. The story is performed without set, props, or special costumes. Instead, voices, gestures, and movements carry the action. This excerpt is from KET’s In Performance at the Governor’s Mansion, an annual series showcasing the depth and breadth of outstanding Kentucky artists and arts groups. Featured performers have ranged from Kentucky’s national treasures, such as Rosemary Clooney and Lionel Hampton, to the state’s premier performing arts organizations—from local and regional musical acts in all genres to poets, actors, and young people.
Use with other drama performance excerpts to compare/contrast elements of production and performance.
Pair with “Introduction to Greek Drama” to compare/contrast the use of chorus and sets.
Use as an example of an Appalachian folk tale.
Use in conjunction with “Shady Grove” and “The Hound Dog Song” from the KET series Old Music for New Ears and either “Goin’ to Boston” or “Weevily Wheat” from the KET series Dancing Threads to explore how music, dance, and drama help define specific groups and reflect unique histories, situations, and perspectives (Appalachian culture).
Present as an example for students creating their own simple dramatizations of familiar tales.
Have students analyze and write a critique of a performance, using the drama criticism guide.
The Power of Storytelling
In this brief excerpt, storyteller Anndrena Belcher discusses the relevance of storytelling today and why people should learn their family stories. It is taken from Program 16, “Passing It On,” of the KET series Telling Tales. Anndrena also shares her own story in the complete program, telling how she learned family history, traditions, and values growing up in a close-knit Appalachian family.
Show as an introduction to an oral history project where students conduct interviews with older relatives.
Use as the inspiration for a family heritage “museum” project where students collect and display family photos and artifacts and tell the stories behind them.
Use as a writing prompt for a personal essay on things students are experiencing now that they would like to remember and pass on to their grandchildren.
Use to introduce story excerpts from the Storytelling Sampler.