The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

December 19, 2012

Storytelling comes to life at Stocks

Staff Writer

TARBORO — Storytelling came to life Tuesday in the Stocks Elementary School auditorium.

“Stone soup?” “That’s crazy!” proclaimed second grader Sadie Owens, as her classmates, playing the roles of two hungry men, asked her if they could have a stone and make a soup out of it.

But the men had a plan. They tricked Owens, in the role of the old woman in Ann McGovern’s “Stone Soup,” into going through her pantry and scrounging up ingredients to add to the “stone soup” – bananas, bacon and tomatoes.

“I like that it had lots of emotion in it,” Owens said, of the storytelling performance. She defiantly stamped her foot at the men when they first approached her and repeatedly questioned the men’s request for her to make stone soup in a high-pitched voice throughout the skit.

Eight students in Johanna Owens’ storytelling class at Edgecombe Community College (ECC) collaborated with the second-grade students in Connie Crowe and Erica Sharpe’s classes at Stocks for the storytelling project. The students had fun adapting the stories and putting a modern, unconventional twist on them, Johanna Owens said. In one skit, students decide to turn one of the characters into a werewolf. In another, a student imitates making a phone call.

“It gave them a chance to introduce the craft they’re learning about,” the storytelling instructor said. “It proved to be a good experience for everybody involved.”

One of Johanna Owens’ students, Dillon Rogers, worked with a group of Stocks students for about three weeks to produce a skit telling the classic tale “Three Billy Goats Gruff.” He called the experience “eye-opening” and said the students’ prior knowledge of the story helped them generate ideas.

“I think in a way they don’t get enough credit for their creativity,” Rogers said. “They think so much outside of the box, and I like that, personally. I never want them to look at a script that they’re given and feel confined.”

Rogers is pursuing his associate’s degree in fine arts. He hopes that the storytelling project shows the children at Stocks that there are outlets for their creativity, such as community theatre.

“Creative minds are needed. There are places around here where they can use those abilities and those talents.”

Johanna Owens said the storytelling project comes “on the heels” of the second-grade students’ learning about folktales and folklore. Dragons and princesses played main roles in the story “The Paperback Princess.” In that story, the dragon tires himself by showing off his mythical skills, such as fire breathing.

“The dragon took another deep breath, but this time nothing came out. The dragon didn’t have enough fire to cook a meatball,” said the narrator, right before the dragon laid down for a nap and the princess returned to her prince at the castle looking disheveled in her brown paper bag.

A magical cap plays a center-stage role in “Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business.”

“I am thinking evil thoughts. I want to put on my cap. I want to take on the world,” said second grader Jah’nas Harris, as he put on the cap and let out an evil laugh – “Mwah hah hah!”

But the little monkeys had other plans. While Harris was taking a nap under a tree, played by Connie Crowe, the mama monkey told her baby monkey to borrow the cap and think happy thoughts while wearing it. As in all fairy tales, the ending is happy, as Harris wakes up and thinks only good thoughts from that moment.