Monday, November 4, 2013

Be Inspired: African American Shadow Puppet Project

Is storytelling a lost art ?  If you ask most young people today to recount a folktale or proverb, they will probably give you a quizzical look. Yet folktales and proverbs have always been important educational tools in African American culture.  Thanks to a minigrant from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, young students in Tennesse are reviving the art of storytelling.  The sixth through eighth graders at The Geeter Middle School in Memphis, Tennesse adapted African and African-American folktales into shadow plays and performed them with puppets and sets they created themselves.  I love the way they are bringing together African American music and  art in the video. I hope their project will inspire teachers, parents and other young people to find stories, and create their own projects.

Ezra Jack Keats Foundation explained why this project received a minigrant from the foundation. "This program wove many strands of culture, history, language and visual arts, culminating in filmed live performances. Sixth- to eighth-graders studied the African storytelling tradition and learned to do a literary analysis of folktales in order to adapt them into plays. Then they made shadow puppets for their characters and produced and performed their plays, first as part of the Black History program and again for the community. A project this multidimensional takes vision on the part of well-organized, knowledgeable and dedicated educators."

For more information on minigrants to public libraries and public schools, visit The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.