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posted: 3/7/2014 1:01 AM

Global folk tales showcase universal human experiences

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  • Revati Natesan, right, founder of Naperville-based ThinkGlobal Arts Foundation, again is working with children as the organization whose projects have included planting a peace tree along the Riverwalk now is bringing to the city a stage show highlighting world cultures through folk tales.

      Revati Natesan, right, founder of Naperville-based ThinkGlobal Arts Foundation, again is working with children as the organization whose projects have included planting a peace tree along the Riverwalk now is bringing to the city a stage show highlighting world cultures through folk tales.
    Daily Herald File Photo

 
 

If one folk tale has the power to transcend generations and unite a culture, imagine the power of eight folk tales.

That's what one Naperville-based organization is inviting people to do with a theatrical production called "Around the World in 8 Folk Tales."

"Within a space of two hours, (viewers) are going to go around the world and they are going to experience eight cultures with music, with dances, with stories," said Revati Natesan, founder of the ThinkGlobal Arts Foundation. "They're going to walk off with an amazing experience."

ThinkGlobal Arts is presenting the production at 3 and 6 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at North Central College's Madden Theater inside the Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville.

Natesan said the show creatively weaves together folk tales from Africa, China, Croatia, India, Japan, Peru, Turkey and the United States using about 20 local children and adults as performers.

In developing the show, Natesan said she learned folk tales can be almost universal, appearing in similar form as part of many cultural traditions. The Disney classic "Cinderella," for example, originated in China, Natesan said.

"Each culture puts their own twist onto the story and then that story evolves," Natesan said.

During "Around the World in 8 Folk Tales," actors will portray an Apache Cinderella story.

"It brings out the Native American fondness for nature and rainbows and clouds and all that very beautifully," Natesan said.

Another of the longer stories to be told is that of an Indian king who grows tired of living in opulence, listening to wise ministers in his fancy palace and watching girls dance all day. The king asks his servants to bring him the 10 greatest fools from across the land.

"Every time he finds one of the fools, it's kind of like a break point," Natesan said, adding the nearly two-hour show uses natural breaks in the longer stories to intersperse shorter tales. "So they inject another story and then come back and find the next fool."

Chinese children will demonstrate martial arts during a folk tale from their country of ancestry. Peruvian kids will dance to a rap song and Indian kids will do a cultural dance during segments of the performance representing their heritages as well.

"Our emphasis has always been to get people together to become culturally aware," Natesan said.

Cultural diversity will be on display even before show-goers enter the theater, with a global bazaar set up by the fair trade retail shop Ten Thousand Villages in the lobby. Tickets to the show are $15 for students and $20 for adults with VIP passes available for $50.

While each of the folk tales comes with a moral to the story -- don't be too greedy, dreams can come true -- the performance's overall message is that cultural differences should not divide people, said ThinkGlobal Arts Foundation member Dinesh Sampat of Naperville. He said the variety of folk tales demonstrate the outwardly different aspects of world cultures, but also show the core similarities among all people.

"We try to see them from different angles," Sampat said. "But once you get deeper into it, we are all the same."

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