Monday, March 11, 2013

Join us for a Japanese folktale at PST!

"The Singing Turtle" 
by Paul Vincent Davis, performed by Brad Shur
Thurs & Fri | March 14 & 15 | 10:30 AMSat & Sun | March 16 &17 | 1 PM & 3 PM

Recommended for ages 4 and up. 

A young, hard working farm boy, Taro, is desperate to earn money to buy medicine for his mother. He is helped by an amazing singing turtle in this heart-warming Japanese folk tale. Dancing dragons, beautiful costumes, and traditional music make this a memorable show for audiences of all ages.

Paul Vincent Davis 

Paul Vincent Davis joined the Puppet Showplace Theatre in 1977, as its first Artist in Residence. Today Paul serves on our Board of Trustees and is widely recognized as one of the foremost hand puppeteers in the country. He has received numerous awards, including four "Citations of Excellence in the Art of Puppetry" from UNIMA-USA (the highest award given in puppetry) and the distinguished President's Award from Puppeteers of America. 

Brad with The Singing Turtle

Brad Shur has been PST's Artist in Residence since 2009. Brad has been professionally involved in puppetry for almost 15 years. He began as a performer with the Providence puppet and mask company Big Nazo while studying film and animation at the Rhode Island School of Design. He has worked in various capacities with Wood & Strings Theatre (Tennessee), and Vermont PuppetTree, and as a builder has designed and fabricated puppets for American Idol, Dollywood, and other theaters and performers from Austin, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts.


A folktale is a type of traditional story that tries to explain or understand the world. Japanese folktales reveal information about the history, life and customs of Japan. These stories were often orally passed down from one generation to another and teach the importance of patience, honesty and hard work. The elements of Japanese folktales are similar to those of traditional American folktales. The characters are often animals and royalty and the plots are magical worlds of transformation. Kindness is rewarded and evil is punished. In Japan, folktales are often told through a series of large pictures depicting the important scenes of the story. This is called a Kamishibai or paper play.


Let's take a look at more stories from the rich tradition of Japanese folktales:

In “Tongue Cut Sparrow” an old wood cutter rescued a little sparrow he found crying for help in the woods. His wife however disliked animals and one day cut the sparrows tongue out, after realizing it ate all of their starch. The bird flew away prompting the man to search for it once he returned home and noticed it was gone.

The man found the sparrow in “the sparrow’s inn.” The sparrows offered the man a gift and he had to choose between a small and large basket. Being a selfless person the man choose the smaller basket and upon returning home discovered in was filled with treasure. This prompted his greedy wife to search for the sparrow and get a gift of her own. She choose the large basket and the sparrow warned her not to open it until she got back home, but she did not heed the advice. The basket was filled with snakes and poisonous bugs which chased her over cliffs.

A long time ago in the story of Kachi-Kachi Yama, an old man and his wife lived at the foot of a mountain. They lived in perfect harmony with their vegetable garden. One morning the old man caught a raccoon dog (Tanuki) eating his vegetables and yelled at him until he ran away. However he came back and ate all the man’s vegetables. This made the man so mad, one day he caught the raccoon dog and tied him up. When the man was not around the raccoon dog cried and apologized to the man’s wife so she would let him go, but he bit her leg before he escaped.
Even madder the man set off into the mountain to get some medicine for his wife’s leg. On the way he meet a rabbit and explained what happened. The rabbit said, “I’ll get revenge on him for you.”

The rabbit went to the mountain with a rice ball and gathered some hay. When the raccoon dog passed the rabbit offered him the rice ball if he would carry the hay. He agreed but when he put the hay on his back the rabbit set the hay on fire. Once he was burned he regretted his previous actions.

That night he went to the old man’s house and apologized to him and his wife and they all shared a delicious meal together. 

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