Trees, Norse mythology and disco-loving squirrels are among some of the elements in a children’s theatrical performance created and directed by Echo Park resident and actress Perry Daniel. “Tall Tales: Myths of Magical Trees” will be performed Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood and has begun a four-week tour of L.A. Unified elementary schools. The show explores how trees are used in the stories and mythology from around the world. Daniel make use of Cherokee stories as well as Old Norse, Chinese and Japanese tales and other bits of global mythology, sometimes adding a playful spin on the classic pieces, which is where the disco squirrels come in.
Daniel, who works in community outreach for UCLA’s ArtsBridge program, said her piece shows “how different cultures use trees to explain the world around them.”
The idea for Tall Tales came about last year as Daniel worked with a student ensemble to create shows based on mythological themes. She ran across many stories focused on trees and decided to pitch a play on the subject to the Geffen, which agreed to support the show in partnership with UCLA.
The cast of the show, composed of UCLA freshmen, tell the tree tales through clowning acts, puppetry as well as shadow theater. The cast will be performing the show at two schools a week, and has already made appearances at campuses in Boyle Heights and South Los Angeles, with one teacher noting that it was the first live theatrical performance to be staged at his school in about 15 years.
“We are trying to present a very diverse array of story telling methods,” Daniel said.