Anansi, Spiderman of Africa!

A Tangled Web of Trickster Tales

". . . with its beautifully researched and realized hand-batiked scenery, its homage-ic, yet imaginative puppets, its clever and humorous script, its well-chosen tales, and its masterful performance style, this show is a perfect blend of traditional and contemporary. Crowd-pleasing for both children and adults."

A side-splitting selection of famous folktales from Africa starring Anansi the Spider, whose appetite always overrules his intellect. Anansi loves to eat and hates to work, so he tries to trick other animals out of their food. But there's no free lunch for Anansi, because all of his schemes leave him hungrier than ever!

Anansi is one of the classic trickster characters in world folklore. These comical African folktales are both entertaining and instructive; because he puts his own desires ahead of the needs of his community, Anansi often ends up exiled to the corner of the room.

Anansi, Spiderman of Africa was awarded the 2000-2001 Citation of Excellence from the American Center of the Union Internationale de la Marionette, the highest honor in American puppetry.

"This is a wonderful production for the younger audience . . . the children (and teachers) enjoyed the performance enormously and were also impressed by the informative post-performance discussion . . . a totally professional and age-appropriate experience!"

. . . Sea Cliff School, Sea Cliff, NY

Two Feasts for Anansi (How Spider Got a Thin Waist) Two neighboring villages are having feasts on the same day, and Anansi is determined to go to both. But his cleverness backfires, and instead of a full belly, he winds up with a thin waist! 

Anansi and the Magic Rock (Why Spiders are Found Under Rocks) Anansi discovers the magical properties of a funny-looking rock, and uses the rock to trick Giraffe, Antelope and Elephant out of their food. But Rabbit has been watching Anansi's antics. She tricks the trickster, and everyone gets their food back. 

The Hat-Shaking Dance (Why Spider Has a Bald Head) Anansi is much more interested in stealing some lunch than in working with the other animals. He finds himself having to pretend that his hat isn't full of hot stew, and that he's only hopping up and down and shaking his head because he's just invented a new dance. Eventually he has to spill the beans and reveals his newly bald head. His hair is all burned off! In embarrassment, he scuttles off into the corner, where you can find Spider to this day. 

“The students were mesmerized by the puppets and captivated by the script. The teachers were thrilled that student wanted to talk and write about the experience. I could watch it again and again!”

. . . Killingly Central School, Dayville, CT

Like his trickster cousins, Brer Rabbit, Raven, and Coyote, Anansi's schemes often backfire and leave him worse off than ever. But Anansi never stays down for long; his vitality and irrepressible sense of fun have kept him playing tricks for hundreds of years! These hilarious stories are brought to life by the Crabgrass Puppet Theatre with a dynamic blend of traditional African design, infectious music and fabulous puppetry.

What are people saying about Anansi?

"I have never had so many teachers approach me after a performance and ask that I book that performer again. Our students were mesmerized, enchanted, delighted and entertained!"

. . . Clarksburg Elementary, Clarksburg MA

"The artists' high level of professionalism and interaction between them and the audience was wonderful. I'll definitely book this group again!"

. . . Providence Day School, Charlotte, NC

"An outstanding performance . . . we would highly recommend this to other organizations. We've had a number of calls from parents telling us that their children are now making spider puppets!"

. . . Whitney Museum of American Art at Champion, Stamford, CT

"The puppeteers are totally professional and have excellent audience control. 400 children sitting for 50 minutes mesmerized and totally involved certainly is a testament to the performance! This is a wonderful educational opportunity!"

. . . Deasy School, Glen Cove, NY

RECOMMENDED AUDIENCE: Grades K-3 and family audiences.



STAGE SIZE: Minimum 16' wide/ 12' deep/ 9' ceiling height

Crabgrass Puppet Theatre is a participant in the Vermont and New England States Touring Programs. Contact the VT Arts Council and the New England Foundation for the Arts for more information.

This page last updated on 8/29/2012. All text and images copyright 1998-2012 by the Crabgrass Puppet Theatre, Jamie Keithline and Bonny Hall.

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