Theatre In Education company presents ‘Tales of Trickery’ Jan. 21-22

One of the folktales featured in “Tales of Trickery” tells the story of a monkey who does not want to share bananas. The cast includes, from left, Becca White, a junior theater major from Matthews, as the monkey; Leslie Putnam, a junior music theater major from Weaverville, as a storyteller; and Chris Evans, a senior theater major from Franklin, and Bryan Nichols, a junior from Waynesville, as the barong.

One of the folktales featured in “Tales of Trickery” tells the story of a monkey who does not want to share bananas. The cast includes, from left, Becca White, a junior theater major from Matthews, as the monkey; Leslie Putnam, a junior music theater major from Weaverville, as a storyteller; and Chris Evans, a senior theater major from Franklin, and Bryan Nichols, a junior from Waynesville, as the barong.

“Tales of Trickery,” a play for young audiences featuring music and three Indonesian folktales that explore the importance of honesty and respect, will stage Wednesday, Jan. 21, and Thursday, Jan. 22, in Niggli Theatre at Western Carolina University.

The 40-minute performances, which are free and open to the public, begin at 7:30 p.m. and are followed by question-and-answer opportunities with student actors from WCU’s target=_blank_>Theatre in Education company.

In the show’s first folktale, “The Widow and the Wealthy Neighbor,” a widow’s wealthy neighbor allows his jealousy and greed to overtake his life. In the second, “The Monkey and the Barong,” a monkey who does not want to share bananas is outwitted. In the third, “The Buffalo and the Bell,” the tables are turned on thieves who try to swindle a person out of his buffalo.

Students in the TIE company developed “Tales of Trickery” after researching Indonesian culture, geography, storytelling styles and gamelan music. A gamelan is an orchestra of tuned percussion instruments that consists mainly of gongs, zithers and xylophones, and WCU’s Low Tech Ensemble will accompany the production with original pieces on gamelan by Will Peebles, director of the ensemble and the School of Music.

One of the Indonesian folktales featured in “Tales of Trickery” tells the story of widow’s wealthy neighbor who allows jealousy and greed to overtake his life. The cast includes, from left, Samantha Johnson, a sophomore English major from Charlotte, as a servant; Chris Evans, a senior theater major from Franklin, as the wealthy neighbor; and Becca White, a junior theater major from Matthews, as the widow.

One of the Indonesian folktales featured in “Tales of Trickery” tells the story of widow’s wealthy neighbor who allows jealousy and greed to overtake his life. The cast includes, from left, Samantha Johnson, a sophomore English major from Charlotte, as a servant; Chris Evans, a senior theater major from Franklin, as the wealthy neighbor; and Becca White, a junior theater major from Matthews, as the widow.

In addition, costumes were designed and created by TIE students, and art education students assisted with developing masks for the production.

“Audiences will be intrigued with the gamelan music as they enjoy a visual feast of brightly costumed mythical characters,” said Glenda Hensley, director of the TIE program.

“Tales of Trickery” is the third production of the student-driven Theater in Education program, which is under the direction of Hensley and faculty member Peter Savage. In addition to the evening performances open to the public, the company will perform matinees for nearly 400 elementary and middle school children Jackson County and tour to other schools in Western North Carolina.

“I continue to be in awe of our students and their creative abilities,” said Hensley. “They most definitely ‘hold the light,’ and we aim to continue to share the joy that great arts experiences empower.”

The production is supported by funding from the College of Fine and Performing Arts, a grant from the Jackson County Arts Council, and a faculty grant from the Office of Undergraduate Studies designed to support implementation of the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan, “Synthesis: A Pathway to Intentional Learning.”

For more information, contact Hensley at ghensley@email.wcu.edu or (828) 227-2469.