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Why We Tell the Story Digital Study Guide

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WHY WE TELL THE STORY

ABOUT THE CABARET

Why We Tell the Story
A Celebration of Black Musical Theatre
Curated and Directed by Marcus Nance

Why We Tell the Story  House Program
Selections from Why We Tell the Story Songs & Reading List

Grade and Curriculum Connections

  • Grade 7+
  • Global Competencies: Critical Thinking, Innovation, Creativity, Self-Directed Learning, Collaboration, Communication and Citizenship
  • The Arts
  • English
  • Language
  • Canadian and World Studies
  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Synopsis

Throughout the ages the African-American community has told stories of life, love, pain and hope through the glorious expressions of musical theatre and poetry. In this concert, performers Neema Bickersteth, Robert Markus, Marcus Nance and Vanessa Sears take you on a journey with the voices of legendary Black poets and the music of the African-American musical-theatre canon, including hits from Aida, Ain't Misbehavin', The Color Purple, The Lion King, Once on This Island, Show Boat and many more. As Maya Angelou said, "Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, / I am the dream and the hope of the slave."

Themes and Motifs

  • Black Stories, Artistry and History
  • Identity, Resistance and Resilience
  • The Power of Poetry and Music
  • Life, Pain, Love, Grief, Hope, Faith

 

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • What does representation mean to you?
  • Do you believe that art, poetry and music can change the world? Why or why not?
  • What differences did you notice between the older songs and the contemporary ones?
  • The poetry, music and performing artists featured in this cabaret are both those who identify as Black as well as allies. Why do you think the curator and director, Marcus Nance, made this choice?
  • Which poem or song resonated with you most? Why do you think this is the case?

 

 

MINDS ON

Objective: This exercise invites students to think critically about themselves and explore their own understandings of who they are in society.

Materials: Computer, television and library access

Directions:

  • Invite students to select three songs, poems or other artistic forms of expression they believe represent themselves (e.g. with regard to culture, religion, race, gender, etc.). Students can use the resources available to them such as YouTube, Spotify, music and/or book collections at home or the library, etc.
  • Once students have selected their artistic representations, have them write a PEEL paragraph explaining why they have chosen each of these artistic expressions to represent them. 
  • If students are comfortable, have everyone share one of their three artistic expressions with the class and discuss them. 

Debriefing Questions:

  • Did completing this exercise affect who you think you are? Did it change your ideas about identity?
  • Did any common themes come up for your when you were researching and selecting your artistic expressions?
  • Did you learn anything about your background or history that you didn't know before completing this exercise?
  • Was this work difficult or easy for you? Why?
  • What surprised or inspired you most after hearing others' selections?

CONNECTION TO THE ARCHIVES

This cabaret's curator and director has a long history working as an artist in Stratford and elsewhere. Here is an image of his first show at the Stratford Festival.

Moby Dick 4

Marcus Nance as Queequeg and Shaun Smyth as Ishmael in Moby Dick adapted by Morris Panych, 2008. Directed by Morris Panych. Set design by Ken MacDonald. Costume design by Dana Osborne. Lighting design by Alan Brodie. Photography by David Hou.  

The Stratford Festival's Archives maintains, conserves and protects recent and historical records about the Festival and makes those materials available to people around the world. Our multi-media archival holdings date from 1952 and extend through to contemporary materials. We house correspondence, production records, Board minutes, photography, design artwork, scores, audio-visual records, costumes, props and set decoration, press releases and other promotional materials: these document the processes that bring a production to the stage and reflect all aspects of mounting a play from the administrative to the creative and beyond.  

In addition to visiting the Archives in person, you can explore our online catalogue.

 

RESOURCES

Virtual Library - PEEL Paragraph Writing
Why We Tell the Story Showstarters
Study Guide PDF  Why We Tell the Story

Contact us to book a streamed viewing of this production for your class: groups@stratfordfestival.ca

 

EDUCATION SUPPORT PARTNER

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TOOLS FOR TEACHERS SPONSORED BY

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 PRODUCTION CO-SPONSOR

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PRODUCTION SUPPORT IS GENEROSULY PROVIDED BY MARY ANN & ROBERT GORLIN.


SUPPORT FOR THE FILMING OF PRODUCTIONS IN THE 2021 SEASON IS GENEROUSLY PROVIDED BY RICHARD & MONA ALONZO, THE JOHN AND MYRNA DANIELS CHARITABLE FOUNDATION, THE HENRY WHITE KINNEAR FOUNDATION, MARTIE & BOB SACHS, ROBERT & JACQUELINE SPERANDIO, ALICE & TIM THORNTON AND BY AN ANONYMOUS DONOR.