Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Animal April Concludes with Anansi the Spider!

Anansi, Spiderman of Africa
by Crabgrass Puppet Theatre

Thurs | April 25 | 10:30 AM

Fri | April 26 | 10:30 AM & *3:30 PM
Sat & Sun | April 27 & 28 | 1 PM & 3 PM
*Join us for a special post-show demonstration with Crabgrass Puppet Theatre, and enjoy a free puppet-making activity to take home after the 3:30pm performance on Friday, April 26.


A side-splitting selection of famous folktales from Africa starring Anansi the Spider, whose appetite always overrules his intellect. Anansi loves to eat and hates to work, so he tries to trick other animals out of their food. But there's no free lunch for Anansi, because all of his schemes leave him hungrier than ever! Anansi is one of the classic trickster characters in world folklore. These comical African folktales are both entertaining and instructive; because he puts his own desires ahead of the needs of his community, Anansi often ends up exiled to the corner of the room. Anansi, Spiderman of Africa was awarded the 2000-2001 Citation of Excellence from the American Center of the Union Internationale de la Marionette, the highest honor in American puppetry. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Crabgrass Puppet Theatre: Jamie Keithline and Bonny Hall 

CRABGRASS PUPPET THEATRE is an award-winning, touring puppet theatre founded in 1982 by Jamie Keithline and Bonny Hall. After graduating from the University of Connecticut, Bonny and Jamie toured the East Coast with the Pandemonium Puppet Company. After completing that they created their first together, “What a Clever idea!” which had giant puppets that grew to eight feet tall. Crabgrass Puppet Theatre has twice been awarded the prestigious Citation of Excellence from the American Center of the Union Internationale de la Marionette (UNIMA-USA), the highest honor in American puppetry, in 2001 and again in 2005. In 2008, Bonny Hall received a Commendation for Design in the Puppet Theatre from the Arlyn Award Foundation. They have given many thousands of performances in schools, libraries, museums, and arts festivals, and have performed at over two dozen regional, national and international puppetry festivals. 

Who is Anansi the Spiderman?

A book collection of Anansi Stories by Gerald McDermott,
does your local library have a copy!?

Have you ever heard of Anansi, the trickster Spiderman? Anansi the spider is one of the most important characters of West African and Caribbean folklore. 

A spider with many names! He is also known as Ananse, Kwaku Ananse, and Anancy; and in the Southern United States he has evolved into Aunt Nancy.  Although he is a spider, Anansi often often acts and appears as a man. Anansi store are similar to trickster tales found in many Native American cultures about the coyote, raven or Iktomi. 

Where do Anansi Stories Come From?

The Anansi tales are believed to have originated from the Ashanti people in Ghana. (The word Anansi means "spider" in Akan.)  There is even a story in the collection of Anansi stories about WHERE the stories came from:

Once there were no stories in the world. The Sky-God, Nyame, had them all. Anansi went to Nyame and asked how much they would cost to buy.

Nyame set a high price: Anansi must bring back Onini the Python, Osebo the Leopard, the Mmoboro Hornets, and Mmoatia the dwarf.

Anansi set about capturing these. First he went to where Python lived and debated out loud whether Python was really longer than the palm branch or not as his wife Aso says. Python overheard and, when Anansi explained the debate, agreed to lie along the palm branch. Because he cannot easily make himself completely straight a true impression of his actual length is difficult to obtain, so Python agreed to be tied to the branch. When he was completely tied, Anansi took him to Nyame.

To catch the leopard, Anansi dug a deep hole in the ground. When the leopard fell in the hole Anansi offered to help him out with his webs. Once the leopard was out of the hole he was bound in Anansi's webs and was carried away.

To catch the hornets, Anansi filled a calabash with water and poured some over a banana leaf he held over his head and some over the nest, calling out that it was raining. He suggested the hornets get into the empty calabash, and when they obliged, he quickly sealed the opening.

To catch the dwarf he made a doll and covered it with sticky gum. He placed the doll under the Odum (Tree of Life) where the dwarfs play and put some yam in a bowl in front of it. When the dwarf came and ate the yam she thanked the doll which of course did not reply. Annoyed at its bad manners she struck it, first with one hand then the other. The hands stuck and Ananse captured her.

Anansi handed his captives over to Nyame. Nyame rewarded him with the stories.

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