Ananse Weaves Tonight
OMEGA INSTITUTE WORKSHOP IN PAGEANT PUPPETRY
JULY 21-26, 2003
In summer of 2003 we were invited to Omega Institute, a holistic studies center in Rhinebeck, NY, to conduct a workshop in pageant puppetry. 21 participants collaborated to design, create, and perform Ananse the Spider, a trickster figure from West African myhology. According to African folklore, Ananse tricked the Sky God into giving up his sotries so that mankind could partake in the divine gift of storytelling. In tribute to his gift, we designed Ananse with a mask at the end of each of his legs, thus making the puppet himself a puppeteer, telling a tales within a tale.
The notion of the story as a thread or a web is key to understanding Ananse. Expressions such as "spinning a yarn" or "weaving a web of deceipt" are given mythic form in the figure of the Spider Trickster. Accordingly, our Ananse, too, was given a tale to spin to his audience. Workshop participants collectively wrote a meandering and strange tale along 500 feet of silken ribbon (using the Surrealist game-technique known as Exquisite Corpse). As Ananse processed through the Omega Campus, the ribbon-story slowly emerged from his abdomen. A masked figure drew unsuspecting bystanders underneath the spider's great white body, ceremoniously cut the ribbon, and sent them on their way clutching a narrative fragment which had neither beginning nor end.
Indeed, Ananse's own story did not end at Omega, and he went on join a confederacy of fellow Trickster puppets in New York's Village Halloween Parade that fall.
See the other Tricksters who joined Ananse in this year's NY Village Halloween Parade