‘Anansi’ is a spider character from African folklore. He is very small and very clever, and is thought to be the God of all stories. Anansi is depicted in many different ways. Sometimes he looks like an ordinary spider, sometimes he is a spider wearing clothes or with a human face and sometimes he looks much more like a human with spider elements, such as eight legs. Anansi stories always carry a lesson or a moral, similar to those of Aesop’s fables.
In this story, Anansi is outsmarted by a clever goose. The witch character does not have any speaking lines, but can lurk upstage making faces and casting spells on those who say her name. The play offers an opportunity for students to devise a clever way to have characters ‘disappear’ onstage.
As the story is repetitive, the cast may easily be expanded by adding more animal characters! The running time of the play will depend on how many characters are added to the story.
Excerpt from the play:
Narrator: Anansi, the trickster spider, lived in a village where famine and drought were all over the land, and Anansi had to figure out a way to survive. In the same village there lived a witch named “Five.” She hated her name and promised to destroy anyone who used it.
Anansi: Aha! I will trick someone into saying her name and I’ll have food for my family.
Narrator: Anansi had saved a little bit of corn and made five piles out of it. He sat on one pile and waited for someone to come along. Soon, Mrs. Rabbit hopped by.
Anansi: Hey, Mrs. Rabbit would you like some corn for your children?
Mrs. Rabbit: Of course!
Anansi: If you tell me how many piles of corn there are I’ll let you have one of them!
Narrator: Mrs. Rabbit was delighted! She counted.
Mrs. Rabbit: One-two-three-four-five.
Narrator: When she said the witch’s name she fell dead. Anansi took the rabbit home to his wife, who cooked it. They had food for weeks. But as the food was running out, he decided to try his trick again. He sat on his corn pile and waited. This time Mrs. Squirrel came by.
Anansi: Hey, Mrs.Squirrel! Wouldn’t you like some corn for your children?
Mrs. Squirrel: I most certainly would!
Anansi: If you tell me how many piles of corn are here, I’ll let you have one of them!
Mrs. Squirrel: Okay! One-two-three-four-five.
Narrator: Of course, when she said the witch’s name she fell dead.