Hooray for the recent Youtheatre production of “Anansi the Spider.” It was an energized spectacle, starring an elephant the size of a van and a spider that was bigger than some closets. Director Leslie Hormann took the Youtheatre to a new level, weaving puppets, dancers and the Three Rivers Jenbe Drum Ensemble into a magical tale. And then she added black light to tell the story of Anansi’s six sons.
Byron Thompson, visual arts teacher at Weisser Park Elementary School, designed and produced the puppets. Elephant wall hoops and gauze. Anansi himself wore a striking yellow top hat (don’t all spiders?). You could see the fuzz on his puppet legs. An added pleasure was hearing the Voices of Unity choir, directed by Marshall White. There’s another Fort Wayne treasure.
In the early 1970s, Gerald McDermott, author and artist of the Anansi tales, visited Fort Wayne to work with Fort Wayne Community Schools teachers and students for a few days. His book won the prestigious Caldecott Award for children’s art in 1972. How delighted McDermott would have been to see our own Youtheatre production of the Anansi tale.
Congratulations to all the performers for teaching us that oral history is an important part of our culture and for giving us a delightful production.