Activated Stories

Bringing you comedic folktales from somewhere on the road. Act!vated Stories is presented by Act!vated Story Theatre a national touring theatre tro...
Boots and the Troll is a tale that has many elements in common with other folk and fairy tales, including Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk, as well as countless others about siblings setting out to find their fortunes. We come to you from Abington, MA., where we've been performing as ghouls...
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Yes, The Chinese Mirror is indeed a Korean story, a tale about fools and about how the introduction of something new often leads to comical results. We come to you from Scarsdale, NY, just north of New York City, which we just took a walking tour of. Since our last podcast, we've been to Maine, ...
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The Monkey Husband from Japan is one of those many stories about a girl from a poor family marrying a beast of some sort or other -- including, of course, one of the best known, Beauty and the Beast. This one also seems to be related to a legend that Shakespeare borrowed for King Lear: a father ...
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The Magic Pear Tree is a strange little tale about greed, generosity, paying it forward, and poetic justice. It comes from ancient China, showing that these concepts are not just modern. It's somewhat similar to the stories about someone getting three wishes, and becoming so overwhelmed with gre...
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Common Sense

Activated Stories 16m 46s

Common Sense is a story from Jamaica with roots in Africa that involves the legendary trickster man-spider, Anansi. Many tales are told about Anansi not only in Africa, but in America and nearby islands. He seems to have come to the New World along with the slaves, which is hardly surprising. Th...
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Kaguya Hime

Activated Stories 17m 37s

Kaguya Hime is a Japanese tale in the tradition of the stories about a childless couple who find a child of supernatural origin, and adopt her/ him as their own. (See, for example, The Snow Maiden from Russia.) It doubles as a nature myth, as some versions of it are intended to explain a full mo...
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The Fly

Activated Stories 12m 23s

The Fly is a trickster tale about a boy who is wise beyond his years and gets the better of his elders. He is part of a long tradition of clever "fools" who are really not so foolish, but save the day in the end. We previously performed, for example, The Boy Who Listened to Birds from Russia. We...
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The White Snake

Activated Stories 19m 4s

The White Snake is one of the lesser known folktales collected by the Brothers Grim; it's one of those stories in which the hero is able to talk to animals, a story motif that was around long before Dr. Dolittle. It may seem strange to name a story after a reptile that makes only the briefest ap...
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Hop in My Sack

Activated Stories 20m 31s

Hop in My Sack is an Italian story collected by the Italian writer Italo Calvino. The version he published was considerably longer, featuring a few more (mis)adventures for the young hero; we streamlined it for our podcast, which was already running long enough. Because we have come all the way ...
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Li Chi and the Serpent is, like the better known Mu Lan, an old story of girl power from China. In this case, the hero(ine) is not battling an army, but a person-eating creature. But as in the story of Mu Lan, (spoiler alert) she succeeds where the men folk fail. We present this story especially...
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The Man Who Had No Story is one of those stories about stories. Many times, they depict not only the origin of a particular story, but of all stories everywhere. (As it happens, we're currently performing one of these, Anansi and the Story Box, live on stage.) Others, like this one, show how you...
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Lazy Hans and Gretchen, from Germany, is about two very lazy people, and of course it's a moralistic tale about how being lazy leads to ruin. But it's also one of the "don't count your chickens before they hatch" stories that go all the way back to ancient times -- the story about the milkmaid s...
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The Goblin's Bridge is one of those stories about someone making a bad deal with a supernatural being. They (the stories, not necessarily the beings) are especially common in Germany and Scandinavia and sometimes involve a person making a deal for his soul with the devil. (The type has come to A...
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The Three Advices

Activated Stories 18m 38s

The Three Advices is a story of the prescient type; quite often, in such stories the main character has a number of odd items which happen to be exactly what he or she needs to solve problems that come up. In this case, the items are not physical objects, but pieces of advice that help the hero ...
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The Monkey and the Boar is a tale from Japan about two animal chums who outwit the humans who pose a problem for them. It uses the motif of the staged rescue, which has been used a number of times in movies and TV shows. This story appealed to us in part because when we visited Japan in 2006, we...
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The Blind Beggar Of Baghdad is a story within a story, like many tales in the famous collection in which it can be found, and indeed like the entire collection itself, a group of stories spun by Scheherazade to forestall her doom. This story involves a beggar, a caliph (the head official of Isla...
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Why Frogs Croak

Activated Stories 18m 32s

Why Frogs Croak is an origin myth that explains why a certain animal makes a certain noise, though it also delves into the sleeping habits of bears, the length of days and nights, the importance of democracy, and other such profound matters. We come to you from Heber Springs, Arkansas in the mid...
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The Shadow Builders is one version of the legend of Karagöz and Hacivat (pronounced KAR-a-gerz and HA-jee-vaht), the beloved characters of Turkish shadow puppet plays, supposedly based on real individuals. According to this version of the story, they were masons who loved storytelling and merri...
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No, it's not a sequel. It's not a fractured fairy tale. It's not something that we just made up. It's part of the original Three Little Pigs that normally gets omitted -- you might say that people are accustomed to hearing the Reader's Digest version. This "lost" segment features another example...
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Old Joe and the Carpenter is a moralistic little yarn about two neighbors who are initially friends, but get into a small quarrel that escalates into full-scale estrangement until a wise stranger intervenes. The story is set in the Appalachian region of the U.S., which encompasses parts of more ...
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