Anansi Resource Guide
This audience guide is intended to be a tool to use as a means to enrich your experience at The BiTSY Stage. Here you will find activities that will prepare you for our show as well as fun things to do and talk about once you’ve seen our production.
We hope this will deepen your understanding and enjoyment of theater in general.
Preparing for your visit:
1. Have you ever been to a theater before? What can you expect? How is being at a theater different than watching a movie or a TV show? How does having live actors change the experience?
2. Do you watch a TV show the same way you would sit at a theater? How is it different? How is it the similar?
3. What do you think it means to be a good audience member? What are some ways we can show our appreciation for the performers? How can we ensure that our behavior doesn’t disrupt anyone else’s enjoyment of the show?
4. What do you think a play is? How would you define it? What things do you think you need to know/have in order to put on a play?
1. Anansi: The Itsy BiTSY Spider Stories are adaptations of West African and Afro-Caribbean tales. What is an adaptation? Can you name an adaptation of something you’ve seen? Did you know that many Disney cartoons are adaptations of very old stories? Why do you think people would adapt stories? If you could adapt a story you already know, what story would you choose? How would you adapt it? Play? Movie? TV Show? Book? Describe how you would tell the story in your own way.
2. Our stories originated from the Akan people in what is now the country of Ghana. They spread to other areas of West Africa and across the ocean to the Caribbean Islands. Can you find Ghana on a map? How about Sierra Leone? What about the Caribbean? Can you find the island of Aruba? How do you think these stories spread all the way across the ocean? Does it surprise you to learn that the tales were brought to the islands by people who were captured and sold into slavery? Why do you think people enduring such a horror would continue to tell stories from their homelands? Can you imagine any ways the stories might have changed as they moved with people to different parts of the world?
3. There are many stories told about Anansi. He is a trickster (a figure who appears in various forms in stories and usually causes mischief) and is depicted in different ways – often as a spider, sometimes as a spider wearing clothes or with a human face, and sometimes as a human with spider-like qualities such as eight legs. How might the stories change depending on which version of Anansi was in it? Would the story be different if he was more man or more spider? Create your own human/animal hybrid. For example: a woman/eagle, a boy/fish, or a grandma/skunk. What fun mischief could your character get into? Make up a story about your character and tell someone. You could also illustrate it or perform it like a play. How might your story change if your character was more animal than human? More human than animal?
1. Our production explored stagecraft – different ways of writing and performing stories on stage. How do you think we decided which stories to show you in which style? Do you think certain stories work better when told in certain ways? Can you think of any other stories you have seen done in multiple forms? Cinderella is one example. Perhaps you’ve seen the cartoon version. Maybe you’ve also seen the film with live actors. Or the movie musical with live actors starring Brandy and Whitney Houston. Go online with an adult and view clips of different versions of that story or another one you can think of. Talk with one another about how the style changes the story. Which do you like best? Why?
2. Our show told six different stories in six different ways. Can you name them all? If you need help, look at your program but see if you can remember them first. Think of other stories you know and pick one or part of one that you can tell. Decide on two different styles to perform the story. Enlist the help of friends and family members if you need. If you choose puppet play how will you make your puppets? Paper bags? Socks? Found objects? If you’re going to do a radio play what will you use to make the noises in the story? Those noises are called Foleys and the person who creates them are called Foley artists. A dance piece requires music. Will your music be created live or will you use something recorded? What will you use for costumes if you need them in your play? Rehearse a short scene and perform it for an audience.
3. Anansi is very clever, and throughout our play, tricks other characters in various ways. Sometimes it is for personal gain – like how he turns an ear of corn into 100 goats. Other times it is to help someone else like the way he tricks the hunters and keeps the tommy gazelle safe. Then there are times such as when he is turned into a puff of smoke by the witch when he ends up a victim of his own mischief. Do you think Anansi is a good or bad character? Is it possible to be both? Have you ever tricked someone? Did you do it to get something you wanted? For someone else’s benefit? Have you ever tried to trick someone only to be tricked yourself? What makes people trick others? Can you think of any instances where tricking someone is okay? What about times when it absolutely is not? How do you feel about being tricked?
4. Our actors each got to play many different parts. What was it like seeing them be many characters? What did they do to create different roles? How did they change their voices? Their bodies? Did the costumes help them? Pick three different characters from our show. How would you create each of them? Think about how you move and speak. Each character’s point of view (how they see the world) also changes how they act. Are you playing the part of someone who is grumpy? Shy? Excited? Play with someone else and have your characters interact. What would they talk about if they were having dinner together? If they had to work at the same job?
5. In our story, Anansi managed to get the stories from the Sky God who, up until that point, had kept them all. Unfortunately for him, his excitement was short-lived because he dropped his pot of tales and they scattered to the whole world. Where do you think stories come from? Why do people tell them? Certain types of stories are consistently told all over the world and have been for thousands of years. This is way before people could share them with one another through books, the internet, telephone or even any kind of travel. That kind of shared experience is often referred to as “collective consciousness” – ideas that unite humans and societies. How do you think that happens? Are there things about being human that we all share regardless of where we come from and what we do and see? What kinds of stories would you expect to hear told in many different parts of the world?