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Grandmother Tales
Grandmother Tales
By R. Rex Stephenson.

Cast: 1m., 9w., up to 10 extras of either gender. When we think of Appalachian storytelling, we tend to think of Jack's tales and stalwart heroes like Wicked John. But the mountains have their feisty heroines too, and Grandmother Tales is a celebration of two of these free spirits, Mutsmag and Ashpet. Grandmother, who gathers her young'uns with a song and a dulcimer (or a guitar, if that's what you have), narrates in the best story theatre tradition. She invites her listeners to take roles as undertakers, ugly sisters, trees, horses and even a fireplace. The stories she shares are of Mutsmag, derived from Scottish folklore and sometimes known as Molly Whuppie and sometimes as Muncimag, and Ashpet, a southern Appalachian Cinderella. Mutsmag and Ashpet go together as a full evening of theater, but if performed separately, they are an ideal length for a school assembly or competition. Approximate running time: 50 minutes (Mutsmag: 30 minutes, Ashpet: 20 minutes).

The Cast: By doubling the Mother and the Old Lady in Mutsmag and using three actors to play all the "extra" characters and objects, the play can be done with a cast of 10. The play is well suited to a predominantly female cast.

Two actors create the two-headed giant: one on the other's shoulders. Both actors speak the lines in unison, and their movements and facial expressions should be in sync.

By clever use of a minimum of costumes, several wigs, and the actor's voice and body, this repetitive use of only three actors not only surprises but also fascinates an audience. The key here is a presentational style of acting that requires the actor to select one element of the character and make it so recognizable that the audience visualizes the tree, or the fireplace, as well as the Ugly Sisters.

For a larger company, of course, characters like the Ugly Sisters, One-Eyed Gang, etc. can be individually cast.

Director's Notes: Mutsmag (approximately 30 minutes in length) and Ashpet (about 20) can stand alone when a shorter piece is desired, a competition play, for example. Some directors have divided Grandmother's narration up among the various actors; this can have the effect of energizing a scene.

The Set: No set is required, although a painted drop of the Blue Ridge Mountains creates a nice background. Almost no furniture, and few props, are required; it is basically up to the actors to create objects, setting and place with the use of thier bodies.

The Costumes should be minimal. by dressing the performer in red- and blue-checkered shirts with wide suspenders and jeans, for instance, Mustmag's mother or Ashpet's stepmother may simply add an apron to create her character, and the one-eyed gang each add a patch over one eye. The Three Ugly Sisters may put on ugly wigs and crinoline and velcro closures for ease of changing.
Play details
Status:  In Stock
Type of show:  Anthology*Full-Length
Catalog Code:  G89
Cast Size:  10
Pages:  28
Royalty:  $75.00 /perf.*
Cost:  $8.50
Approx. Running Time:  50 min.
ISBN (10): 158342864X
Rights & Availability

* Please note that royalties quoted in our catalog are intended for K-12 schools with a standard curriculum only. All other producing groups must submit a completed application.

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