According to writer Phillip Pullman, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
The rich trove of stories spun all over the world since the dawn of time bears testimony to our need for narrative, and this spring, some of the most enduring, enticing and exotic tales will be performed as part of the long-running, professional Storytelling Series, sponsored by the Educational Theater Program at the NYU Steinhardt School.
Directed by internationally-acclaimed storyteller Regina Ress, the spring series kicks off with the annual Valentine’s concert, this year with a tale of the search for love excavated from the oral tradition of Borneo, and told by Ress herself. Aprils show brings the famous, 2,500-year-old tale of Gilgamesh, the ancient Mesopotamian king, as told by David Novak. Capping off the program is a rare US performance by India’s preeminent dancer/storyteller Anita Ratnam, who illustrates the many facets of womanhood from the Hindu epic The Ramayana.
“Stories are all around us, all the time, but we need the old stories,” says Ress, who serves as adjunct professor at Steinhardt’s Educational Theater program. “They speak to universal and eternal themes. They help to root us in our common humanity, which underpins cultural trappings and particulars. At this time of such polarization, such demonization of the “Other,” it is not just important, it is also healing and refreshing to our spirits to remember our connections to others in time and space.”
Dates and descriptions are as follows:
Friday, February 13, 8 p.m.
Regina Ress tells Adi, Song of Agan
“Who is that person coming down the river? He is all one can desire! How white and shiny and big are the tiger teeth he wears in his ears!” For an unusual Valentine’s treat, Regina Ress tells the adventures of Agan Tadun Ngagtang Balang, epic hero from the Kelabit people of Borneo, as he ventures forth to seek a wife. We meet two pairs of lovers and a scheming comic witch who wants our hero. She doesn’t get him!
Sunday, April 19, 3 p.m.
David Novak tells Gilgamesh
For 2,500 years it was the greatest story ever told. For another 2,500 years it was completely forgotten. The epic of Gilgamesh, from ancient Mesopotamia, returns to its roots as a spoken-word performance in an extraordinary rendering by renowned storyteller David Novak. “This story has something for everyone,” Novak says, “steamy seduction, monster-slaying, heavenly battles, and a grief-stricken hero’s quest. Although it is our oldest written epic, for thousands of years Gilgamesh was a great telling experience.”
Sunday, May 3, 2015 3:00 PMAnita Ratnam tells A Million Sitas
Through the lens of Sita, timeless icon of womanhood, Anita Ratnam, refracts and re-weaves the many strands of the majestic and sweeping Hindu epic The Ramayana. Five women are sketched…Manthara, Surpanakha,Mandodari, Ahalya and the eternal Sita, who holds them all together. One of India’ most celebrated dance-actors, Ratnam brings storytelling, theatre and dance to her rendering of Sita, who stands at the epicenter of this story of love, honour, courage, treachery and sacrifice.
All shows are free and open to the public, and take place at the historic Provincetown Playhouse at 133 MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village, one block south of Washington Square Park. Shows are appropriate for adults and children 12 years and older. Box office opens 1 hour before the show. Visit here for more information or call 212-998-5867.