Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Up In The Air

This video is an excerpt from a performance I did at the annual Davis Square ArtBeat festival in Somerville, MA, of a traditional folk tale called "Why Sun and Moon Live in the Sky", a story
told by the Efik people of Southern Nigeria. This year's ArtBeat theme was water, and the weather was hot, so naturally I told a story that would take the audience on a wet and watery journey!

I like this tale, in part, because it ends up so far from where it starts. The narrative takes a rather circuitous route, leaving listeners guessing for a while. It's clearly a pourquoi tale, and it concerns two verysignificant heavenly bodies. However, it is not very cosmological; very little time is spent up in the sky, the ultimate destination of our co-protagonists.

Interestingly, a third player is brought in - Water - whose actions affect the destinies of Sun and Moon. They say no good deedgoes unpunished, and this is certainly true of the overly hospitable celestial pair, whose efforts to accommodate their aquatic friend and his innumerable brood result in their permanent exile from the earth.

What I find particularly fascinating, is that the storyseems to imply that Sun and Moon prefer their new aerial abode because Water cannot go there. Perhaps the Efik people had an understanding or belief that Water - vital to all life on earth - is something that can only be found on our planet, for its absence in space is a crucial element in the narrative. A wonderful example of how science and storytelling intersect to enrich our understanding of our world, and our universe!

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