Three Rivers Jenbe Ensemble, puppeteer Barney Thompson collaborate
FORT WAYNE—Classic life lessons are set to come to life as the Fort Wayne Youth Theatre—in collaboration with the Three Rivers Jenbé Ensemble of the Three Rivers Institute of Afrikan Art & Culture (TRIAAC) and puppeteer Barney Thompson—presents “Anansi The Spider: Hero of West Africa,” a collection of West African folk tales featuring the mischievous Anansi and other colorful figures of folklore at the Arts United Center, 303 East Main St.
Follow the clever and mischievous Anansi as he triumphs over his foes in this whimsical collection of tales adapted from African folklore by Fort Wayne Youth Theatre Executive Director Leslie Hormann. Meet a nine-foot elephant, and find out how he got his trunk. How does spider get a small waist? A bald head? Join our storyteller—called the djeli in West African Culture—as played by popular community actor, Dwight Wilson and take a fun trip to the savannah and forests of West Africa!
For Hormann, a nearly 30-year veteran of teaching and the arts, this presentation is something of a dream project.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of Anansi the spider from when I was teacher. So I knew it was a part of the school reading series,” she said.
Hormann explained that, as a proponent not only of arts but also reading and literature in the schools, “Anansi The Spider: Hero of West Africa” provides and opportunity to interact with local schools and present a work to which young people can easily relate.
She also said the project provided an opportunity to work with other artists she’s always admired locally.
“I wanted to have a big spider puppet. I used to work with Barney Thompson. I thought, I bet he could produce a cool big spider,” she said. “And I always wanted to work with Ketu [Oladuwa, artistic director of TRIAAC], of course, and the Jenbé Ensemble.”
Hormann, who also serves as the show’s director, said the cast of 65 actors, dancers and singers has been a joy with which to work.
“We’ve got some great kids, and it’s a rainbow of kids. It’s a very diverse cast,” she said.
Hormann also praised work of veteran actor Wilson as djeli.
“He kind of ties the stories together—he’s wonderful,” she said.
Performances are scheduled for:
• 7 p.m., April 19
• 2 p.m., April 20
• 2 p.m., April 21
For more information, call (260) 422-6900 or contact Hormann at firstname.lastname@example.org.