Tanka Tales

The stories in our show, Tanka Tales , emphasize the Native American philosophy of respect for ourselves, each other , and the environment.  Our objective is to expose children to this way of thinking and facilitate thought and discussion around these issues of respect.  We also hope to create an appreciation for Native American Culture and Art. To accomplish these goals we tell three tales that come from different regions of the country using hand, rod and shadow puppets.


 The Stories:
Loo Wit the Fire Keeper is a story from the Nisqually tribe of the Pacific Northwest concerning twin brothers who cannot learn to share the abundance of creation.  Their selfishness causes the people to loose fire.  Only the wise woman, Loo Wit can bring it back. This tale explains a mythological  origin of Mt. St. Helens. 
                                       Glooscap and Summer at Winter's lodge 
 How Summer Defeats Winter  is a tale from the Wabanaki tribe of the Northeast.  Glooscap, a hero of many tribes in this region is confronted with the powerful chief, Winter.  He must enlist the aid of various mythic figures, as well as the audience, to restore balance to the world.  This tale contains a story within a story “How Grandmother Spider Stole the Light” told with shadow puppets.

Our Program facilitates the understanding of the different forms of puppets (hand, rod  and shadow) which we use in this production.  It also vividly demonstrates the effectiveness of puppets and masks in a theater production.  This production utilizes puppets, masks, scenic and sound effects.


 Please contact us at: goodlifetheater@gmail.com to recieve the study guide for this show.

To whom it may concern,
       On March 29th, 2004, the children at Fort Belvoir Elementary School loved the performance Tanka Tales, by the Good Life Theatre!  Good Life told  Native American tales that had dignity and respect for Native Americans. Good Life also managed to incorporate a lot of facts about the Native American history that would be found in the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL’s). Good Life Theatre made the show exciting for the students, parents and teachers alike.

    The students sat very attentively during the entire performance. The students did not want to miss anything that was being said. To keep the attention of over a hundred kindergartners is a feat in its self, but Good Life kept the attention of the entire audience.

    The parents thought the show was a welcomed addition to the school.  Expressions from several parents were, “This was really fun!”, “I am very happy that I was able to make the show,” and “I brought my younger daughter with me and she really enjoyed the show.” The parents were really pleased with the entire set up.

    The teachers of Fort Belvoir had nothing but praise for the assembly. “The performance was entertaining, but more importantly it educated.” said one teacher. Overall the teachers gave Good Life a rating of excellent.

    In conclusion, as school liaison for this assembly, I was so impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the Good Life Theatre that I recommended them for a return performance. The retelling of the Native American tales was handled so beautifully and its contents were so informative that it would be an asset to our multicultural program next year. 
                            Cantresa Gillespie
                            Cultural Arts Chairperson
                            Fort Belvoir Elementary School

Dear Sir/Madam:
The Arlington Traditional School in Arlington, Virginia was captivated by the educational and entertaining legend of Tanka Tales that was presented by Jeanne Wall and Joe Pipik's GoodLife Theater.  Performed in November 2001 for our Native American Month Assembly, Tanka Tales provided an in-depth and delightful view into Native American life and culture.  The stories of How Summer Defeats Winter and Loo Wit the Fire Keeper were woven into mesmerizing tales by life-size and shadow puppets and masks.  Our students were able to directly interact with the artists and truly felt a part of the show with direct audience participation through singing and movement.  Jeanne and Joe were highly professional and proficient entertainers and educators, yet, made themselves totally accessible to the audience.  Care was given to present the direct correlation between American history and Native American history, which is a vital part of the Virginia Standards of Learning.  By the end of the performance, students, teachers and parents in attendance were spellbound by this journey into the past.  All in attendance agreed that Tonka Tales by the GoodLife Theater was the best multicultural assembly the school had ever experienced. 

The Arlington Traditional School has been fortunate to have the GoodLife Theater perform at our school.  As the multicultural coordinator of the Parent Teacher Association, it has been a privilege to work with Jeanne Wall and Joe Pipik.  They have been exemplary artists and professionals in their field.  I am very much interested in having the GoodLife Theater return to Arlington Traditional School to perform, but limited funds have not allowed us to do so.  We are hoping that they will be able to return in the near future.  Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
                            Tracy Hanafin
                            Multicultural Assemblies Coordinator
                            Arlington Traditional School PTA