The Smith Opera House presents The Omaha Theater Company for Young People's How Anansi Came to America at 10 a.m. and noon on Thursday, March 11. Presented as part of The Smith's ArtSmart Theatre for Young People series, this innovative multi-cultural theater company returns to Geneva following the international success of its Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters tour two years ago.
Based on the popular folk character from West Africa, Anansi is a wise, funny and mischievous little spider who loves to use his wits and play tricks on others. In How Anansi Came to America, an African mother tells three stories about the clever spider to her young daughter as they are held captive on a slave ship bound for America. The first story reveals how Anansi became possessor of all stories, and the other two stories illustrate lessons on selfishness and courage as Anansi gets into trouble with some villagers.
Stories of Anansi the spider began charming African children hundreds of years ago as griots (storytellers in African villages) created stories about him. A folk hero to the Ashanti culture of West Africa, tales of Anansi left Africa by way of slave ships headed for the Caribbean Islands and the United States.
The Omaha Theater Company commissioned playwright Frank Higgins to write How Anansi Came to America for its 2002-2003 Season. Higgins teaches playwriting at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and has had numerous plays commissioned around the country. Higgins' work has been commissioned for the Fulton Opera House in Pennsylvania, and one of his plays performed in New York City featured actress Gwyneth Paltrow and her mother, Blythe Danner. Higgins was recently featured in American Theatre Magazine.
The cast features Keith McCoy of Virginia as the title role, Anansi the spider. McCoy is joined by Vanessa Adams of Oklahoma; Jauna Chatman and Leisa Brown of Memphis, Tennessee; Christy Parker of Grenada, Mississippi and Cherisse Coleman of Omaha, Nebraska. Their colorful performances are underscored by the enchanting drumbeats of Mané Badiané, who was once the lead drummer for the Senegalese National Orchestra.
The national touring ensemble brings the tales of this clever spider to life while they explain a journey from Africa to America. Don't miss this historical and cultural adventure that holds lots of laughs and a meaningful message. Suggested audience age is 6 and older.
How Anansi Came to America will be presented at 10 a.m. and noon at the Smith Opera House on Thursday, March 11. All seats are $4.50. Early reservations are recommended. Call The Smith box office at 315-781-LIVE (5483) or toll free 866-355-LIVE (5483) for more information or to reserve seats.
The Smith Opera House is located at 82 Seneca Street in Geneva. The ArtSmart Theatre for Young People series is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and by Lyons National Bank.