Props: 4 Kazoos
Audience: Family Storytime
For our second annual "One Story Three Ways" Family Storytime, we presented "The Three Bears" in three different ways. We started with a kazoo version, inspired by storyteller Beth Horner, who performed the story solo with a kazoo at the Multnomah County Library's Tapestry of Tales Storytelling Festival a few years ago. I couldn't find a video of her amazing performance and it's probably just as well...I might have decided anything we did would be lame in comparison. But we decided to try it in our own way, which was: No words, just sounds you make from the kazoo, and no props, just four people acting it all out. We kept to the bare bones of the story so kids could follow the action easily. So Papa Bear (me) walks out and says hi; Mama Bear walks out and says hi (that's Andi, our library's Adult Program Coordinator, who stepped in at the last minute when Terri was sick); and Baby Bear walks and says hi (that's Sam, our On-Call Librarian, also filling in for an absence). Baby Bear actually doesn't come out when she should, so Papa and Mama have to call him...that's one little running joke we repeated a few times.
Then Papa Bear tries his porridge, followed by...well you know how it goes. Reference Librarian Burton Haun filmed one of our performances, and here's a short video clip to give you the idea (although the kazoos sound funnier live):
We kept our kazoos in our mouths the whole time, so we looked silly and sounded sillier. Our sounds pretty much matched the rhythm of the story's words, so the kids could tell when we made sounds for "too hot!" or "somebody's been sleeping in my bed!"
The Bears exit and Goldilocks (Sheila) comes in for a solo turn. The Bear parts were pretty easy, and there were three of us. Sheila, though, had to make her bit work on her own and she did a great job. She paced it just right, without rushing, and used the space really well so that you almost felt like you could see the too-hard chair and the just-right bed. She gives a long "Uh Oh!" after she finishes the porridge and breaks the chair, and the Bears repeat that "Uh Oh!" later when they discover the damage she's done, so that works as a little aural refrain. Here's a short video clip of Goldilocks and the porridge:
The whole thing worked really well. We gave a mini-summary of the story during the introduction, just to kind of prepare the kids: "If you watch what we do and listen to the sounds, you'll be able to tell when the Bears are tasting their porridge or when Goldilocks breaks the chair..." We also showed them what a kazoo was and made some sample sounds, because most of the kids hadn't seen or heard one before. It turns out that it's actually kind of hard to keep a kazoo in your mouth for a long time without a break, but we managed okay. A future post will describe the other two ways we did "The Three Bears" for our "One Story, Three Ways" storytime sessions.