STORYTELLING/CREATIVE DRAMA/PLAYMAKING (Students use a variety of drama techniques to play out the story told by the teacher. Through repetition the playing out becomes a play and the story can move towards production.)
PURPOSE: To know the story
Why Spiders Live in Dark Corners, an Ananse story from Ghana.
To participate in a group telling of a story.
ACTIVITIES: The teacher tells the story,
Why Spiders Live in Dark Corners.
Select characters for acting the story out: Ananse, Mrs. Spider, Two Magicians, Sticky Scarecrow, and Spider Children (all the children left are the spider children). The teacher acts as narrator, and fills in where the students need help. This depends on the skill of the students and the quality of the original story telling. The teacher plays a spider child! Establish spider movement by demonstrating a possible spider movement to the class.
The spider children are all squished together. The teacher leads the group in complaining about the small rooms. Mother says she will go and ask father if they can move into a new house. Mother tries to wake Ananse three times, “Ananse . . . Ananse . . . ANANSE!!!” Ananse wakes and says, “What dear?” She asks her question and he replies: “Oh, my back hurts! Oh, my head hurts! Oh, my stomach hurts! You will have to do it yourself!”
The teacher leads in role as a spider child; moving furniture together, building walls and creating a new house. Mother may need a reminder that the garden has to be built. After Ananse gives his pat response, the children plant all kinds of vegetables: peanuts, rice, cassava, yams, beans, etc. They mime watering it with water cans and the narrator (teacher shifts roles from spider child to story mover) says: “The garden grew and grew and grew. Finally the family made a giant feast.”
Family mimes preparing feast. Ananse is asked to join. He leaps in the air and runs to the table. The children and Mrs. Spider all go to sleep before he finishes. He thinks to himself, “Oh, if only I could eat and sleep forever. I would be the happiest spider alive.” Ananse gets the idea to go to the magicians, and the magicians tell him what to do when he gets home. They give him a magic root which when eaten makes one appear dead. Ananse is to tell his family he is so sick he is going to die. The family should dig a hole for him in the middle of the garden and put his fork, knife, spoon, plate, cooking pot and bed in it. Ananse should take a bite from the root and “die.” After the funeral, dirt should not be placed in the hole, but banana leaves should be placed on top so Ananse will have a little house in his afterlife!
Children and Mrs. Spider cry when they hear Ananse is going to die. (This can get too silly. Stop it before it goes too far. Ask students to make it as real as possible.) Make a circle and pretend to dig a hole. Mother asks children to bring in the fork, knife, plate, spoon, cooking pot and bed. (Teacher guides Ananse to lie down after eating the magic root.) Teacher, as the oldest spider child, chooses four or five students to help carry Ananse into the hole. (Good trust activity which can be done seriously by First Graders!) Teacher leads students in reminiscing about father: i.e., “He was lazy but he told us great stories”, “He could play the drums better than anyone else in the village”, “I remember when he took us all to the capital of Accra and we had a great time.” etc. (The first playing should not focus on factual information—go for feeling, facts can be added later.)
After the funeral—Teacher as narrator: “That night Ananse opened one eye, then another, then a big smile came over his face. It worked. He slowly climbed out into his garden and grabbed as many vegetables as he could carry, took them into his hole, cooked them, and ate them all up. Then he went to sleep. He did this for seven nights and days, until Mrs. Ananse walked out into the garden. Watch!” Mrs. Spider is aghast at the loss of her vegetables. She builds a scarecrow and covers it with goo from a sticky goo tree. Ananse wakes and after asking who is in his garden, hits (pretends to hit) the scarecrow. (Teacher must demonstrate a pretend hit!) The family, neighbors and Mrs. Ananse force him out of the village into a dark corner.
Each time through the teacher takes less and less of a role until the students can act it out by themselves.