Suggested Pre- and Post-Performance Activities

Suggested Pre-Performance Activities:

A. Have students discuss their own favorite stories. What makes the story their favorite? Discuss what makes up a story-beginning, middle, end, plot, characters, place, and time. What else?

B. Discuss family and personal stories. Ask the students to think of an incident that has happened to them or their family. Some theme ideas are: an accident, a scary experience or place, a funny thing that happened, a special trip, a memorable party or celebration.

C. Discuss the differences and similarities between reading and telling a story such as voice projection, use of different voices and accents, eye contact, developing interesting characters, etc.

D. Discuss the varied ethnic background of those in your class, what are their family origins? Do they know a story from their culture? Students should be encouraged to interview elder family members or friends. Retell their stories to classmates, continuing the oral tradition.

Related Vocabulary/Terminology
Beginning, middle, end, plot, characters, timing, voice projects, eye contact, voice projection, imagination, folktales, legends, myths, fables, personal stories.

Suggested Post-Performance Activities:

1. Social Science

Ask students to find out about their own cultural background

  • Go to the Library and find a folktale from their own culture or country of origin.
  • Read about their own culture or country of origin by using an encyclopedia or travel material.
  • Gather three facts about their cultural background to share with the rest of the class. Make a chart of these.

2. Literature and Language Arts/Storytelling

A. Ask students to think of a family or personal story, then divide them into teams of two. The Story prompter sheet can be used to help them think of a story. Have them tell the story to their partners. The partner needs to give feedback as to what needs to be clarified. This is always done at the end of the story. An example: Storyteller: “Once I was walking down the street.” Partner feedback: “How old were you? Where were you?” It is important to help the students to place the story, let us see as much of the story as possible. This encourages critical thinking regarding what is important. Does this story give vivid images to the listener? Is the sequence clear?

B. Have your students name their favorite stories told by Ms. Loya in the performance. Divide students into groups based on their favorite stories. Have them recall the story together. Have them tell the story to each other. Keep the groups small -- four or less.

Arts Enrichment

A. Make a list of different characters in Ms. Loya's stories. Have students choose a character to draw and/or paint. Caption the picture with a line from the story.

B. Have a group of students choose a scene from their favorite story. Prepare the frozen scenes (tableaus) of main ideas and see if the students can come up with the story.

Latin American Bibliography (Story Collections)

Aiken, Riley, Mexican Folktales From The Borderland

Anaya, A. Rudolfo, Lord Of The Dawn The Legend Of Quetzalcoatl

*Bierhorst, John, The Hungry Woman Myths And Legends Of The Aztecs, La Diosa Hambrienta (2 separate books)

Brenner, Anita, The Boy Who could Do Anything and other Mexican

**Coedicion Latinoamericana - Cuentos Y Leyendas De Amor Para Ninos

**Coedecion Latinoamericana - Cuentos De Espantos Y Aparecidos

Davis, F. Adams, Of The Night Winds Telling Legends From The Valley Of Mexico

Fox, Hugh, First Fire Central & South American Poetry Goodspeed, Bernice, Mexican Tales

Green, Lila, Folktales Of Spain And Latin America

*Griego Jose ^ Maestas & Rudolph A. Anaya, Cuentos (Tales From The Hispanic Southwest)

Haviland, Virgina, Favorite Fairy Tales Told In Spain

Hudson, Wilson M., The Healer Of Olmos And Other Mexican Lore

Jagendorf. M.A. And R.S. Boggs, The King Of The Mountains (A Treasury Of Latin American Folk Tales

*LOYA, OLGA, Momentos Mágicos, Magic Moments

**Moreno-Ruiz, Jose L., Las Flores Blancas, Cuentos y Leyendas

*Kurtyco, Marcos/Kobeh Garcia Ana, Tigers and Opossums

*Maceal, Leonel/Hinojosa, Francisco, The Old Lady who Ate People

*Miller, Elaine, Mexican Folk Narrative From The La Area

*Ostos-Martinez, Susana/Blacmore, Vivian, Why Corn is Golden O' West, John, Mexican American Folklore

Paredes, Americo, Folktales Of Mexico

Sawyer, Ruth, Picture Tales Of Spain

Toors, Frances A treasure Of Mexican Folkway

*Ulibarri, Sabine R, Mi Abuela Fumaba Puros, My Grandma Smoked Cigars


Articles by Olga


By Olga Loya

I would like to share with you my technique for telling stories bilingually and my reasons for doing it that way. While I tell in Spanish and English and will refer to these two languages throughout the article, these same principles could be used for any other combination of languages.

When you first start to tell bilingual stories, it is a good idea to find a simple tale so that you can concentrate on deciding which words you will say in which language rather than concentrating on trying to remember a complicated plot. Like with any other storytelling, your first (and sometimes hardest) task is to find a suitable story. The bibliography included with this article should help you in your search.

When you find a story you like, read it out loud. See if you can hear the rhythm of the story. Then start thinking about how much of the tale you will put in each language. Since I generally start by working with stories that are written down in English, I practice the story and slowly move from English to Spanish. Many of my performances are mainly in English with some sentences and phrases in Spanish. If I have an audience that has some listeners who speak Spanish and some who only speak English, I will do the whole story in both languages. This is the most difficult performance of all because the teller has to think in two languages while keeping the focus of the story and not interrupting the flow of the narrative.

If the audience is Spanish-speaking, the I tell the stories entirely in Spanish. This is my favorite mode of telling because I can just abandon myself to the beautiful sound of the Spanish words.

When I perform bilingually, I always tell first in Spanish and then in English. It is an interesting and wonderful phenomenon to have the Spanish-speaking listeners laugh first and then repeat the joke in English and have everyone laugh. It is very powerful for the Spanish-speaking audience to have a chance to understand something first here in English-dominated America where so often they feel left out.

There are many different techniques of doing bilingual storytelling . Some performers do long segments in one language and then do the translation into the other language. Some tell the whole story in Spanish and then repeat it in English, or vice versa. What I prefer to do is simultaneous translations.

I do this because personally I don't have a long attention span, and I don't like listening for a prolonged period of time without know what is happening. I believe many listeners will be as bored as I would be by this style so instead of relying only on the words, I sometimes rely on the physicality of the story. I try to find a way of moving or a stance to help people understand a phrase. For example, in one story there are three animals having a dialogue with a female cockroach. When I am speaking as the animals, I always stand in a certain way. When I am speaking as the cockroach, I stand in a different way. Since the dialogue is the same between the cockroach and each of the animals, the last time I do not have to translate it into English because my body shows who is talking and what they are saying. Also I look for a certain tone of voice for a word or phrase and keep that tone consistently.

When I have found a tale to work with, I go over the whole story and begin to play with it. I try phrases and individual words in English and in Spanish and keep playing until I have found the right balance of languages. I remain flexible so that if there is largely an English-speaking audience, I don't add too much Spanish. This balance changes for a largely Spanish-speaking audience.

Take a few lines such as: Había una vez una Cucarachita que pensaba que era muy fea. Once there was a little cockroach who thought she was very ugly. Se miraba en el espejo y decía, 'Ay, soy tan fea.' She would look in the mirror and say, 'Oh, I am so ugly." One way to say these lines is as they are written above.

Another way would be to translate only some of the words into Spanish: Once there was a little Cucarachita, cockroach who thought she was fea, ugly. She would look in the mirror and say, "Ay, soy tan fea. Oh, I am so ugly."

What I try to do is keep the rhythm going from the English to the Spanish and back again so that it sound like one story rather than two separate ones. It's important to not speak so fast that the Spanish and English run together.

When I am practicing a story, I first go through it entirely in English if it is written in that language or entirely in Spanish if it is written in that language. I read it silently and then out loud. I try starting the story in the language it is not written in. Usually if the story is written in Spanish, I translate in into English and then I add in the Spanish.

I also play with not only the translation but also the style it is written in. If it is mainly in the third person, I change much of it into dialogue. Often I add participation. For example, for a myth titled "La Diosa Hambrienta, The Hungry Goddess," I use the statement, "Tengo Hambre. I am hungry." I tell the audience that I want them to hear the sentence in a llanto, wail. We practice wailing the words. When I tell the story, I use my drum to let the audience know when it is time to wail.

Whenever I am using participation in another language in a story, I begin by telling the listeners the words I will want them to say. I then translate the words so they will understand what they are saying. I then have them say each words separately and then together as a sentence or phrase. Then I say the words in the rhythm I would like them to use and have the audience repeat the words using my rhythm. I like to have the listeners say the words often enough in the story so that they are comfortable with them and will possibly remember them later.

A new area of bilingual translation I have been playing with is saying something in Spanish and having the translation in the response. An example from one of my stories would be:

Snake Woman said, "Quien eres y qué quieres?"

Luna answered, "My Name is Luna, and I am looking for a magician."

The English-speaking listeners then understand that Snake woman was asking who Luna was and what she wanted. In this type of bilingual translation, it is important to have two distinct characters speaking so that the audience is clear about who is talking. Oherwise it can get confusing.

As you can see, there are many things to think about when telling bilingually. It comes down to finding a story you love, feeling comfortable with the two languages you are using and playing with the story until you find the right rhythm for yourself. Then you can tell the story, and let the audience enjoy.

Published in: Texas Newsletter and National Storytelling Membership Association, Storytelling Magazine

Juana Briones: Visionary of the Nineteenth Century

  • María Juana de la Trinidad Briones y Tapia de Miranda
  • Nicknames: Widow Briones, Señora Abarone, Madame Briones
  • Birth Date: March 12, l802
  • Death Date: December 3, 1889
  • California businesswoman, landowner, humanitarian, mother.

A businesswoman. A landowner. A humanitarian. A woman of transcendent vision and independence. Juana Briones was an extraordinary woman who was a leader in her own right and a role model for generations to come.

María Juana del la Trinidad Briones y Tapia de Miranda was born on March 12, 1802, in Villa de Branciforte (later called Santa Cruz). Her father, Marcos Briones, was a corporal in the military and originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Her mother, María Isadora Tapia de Briones, was from Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico.

When Juana was ten years old her mother Isadora died, For years young Juana was captivated by her mother's lessons about how to sew and about the power of the yerbas, herbs.

Following her mother's death, Juana Briones lived with her family at Polin Springs, near the San Francisco Presidio.

In l820, she married Apolinario Miranda. They lived in Polin Springs until Apolinario received a land claim in 1833-El Rancho de Ojo de Agua de Figueroa, near the Presidio. Today this land claim is located at the intersection of Lyon and Green streets in San Francisco.

While at the ranch, Juana helped mistreated young sailors, who were often virtually enslaved by their captains. These young sailors escaped the unremittingly bleak conditions of the ships and took refuge in Juana's home.

Ironically, the woman who showed compassion to strangers was being abused in her own home.

Over the years it became commonplace for Apolinario to drink and beat his wife. She complained to the military authorities five times, and five times the militario reprimanded Apolinario, to little avail. Finally in 1844, Juana wrote a letter to Bishop Diego in Santa Barbara asking for a legal separation because of her husband's drunkenness. Accompanying the letter to the Bishop, she also enclosed a copy of the reprimands Apolinario had received. A letter from the Bishop's office was subsequently sent to the arcade (the Mayor) asking him to protect her from Apolinario. Following that letter the records show that Apolinario did indeed leave Juana alone.

Because of his abuse, Juana packed up her belongings, in l836, along with her children, and got her own land grant called Yerba Buena (now known as Washington Square in San Francisco). When she moved into Yerba Buena, Juana was the only Spanish-California woman at the time with a thriving ranch.

Juana and Apolinario had eleven children, seven of whom survived. She also adopted an orphan girl named Cecilia Chohuilhuala. She supported her eight children in a number of ways: by raising cattle and selling and trading the hides and tallow, growing and selling vegetables, raising cows and selling milk, and working as a seamstress.

Along with her various business ventures, Juana never stopped caring for people, who knew her as a curandera (healer) and partera (midwife)-she cured rich and poor alike. She would take people who were ill into her own home until they were well enough to leave. It was her mother who first taught Juana about the healing arts. and she continued her lessons on herbs with the local Indians, who took her out into the hills and showed her many different methods of healing. Historian J.N. Bowman wrote, "The pioneers of the late l830s and the travelers of the early 1840s seldom failed to mention this lady. She feared no disease. Ships brought in men suffering from small pox and scurvy and she took them in as readily as the mildest fever case. She said, “I want no pay. If they get well, I am satisfied.” (1)

In l844, Juana paid $300.00 for 4,438 acres of land in Mayfield (what is now the Los Altos Hills and a small part of Palo Alto). From 1844 to 1847, Juana slowly transported all of her children, servants, belongings, and cattle to Rancho la Purisima ConcepciĆ³n. and, in 1847, finally settled into her life as a rancher. That same year Juana's husband Apolinario died.

The following year the United States annexed California. The United States Land Commission then came to California in 1851 to verify land deeds. The Land Commission ruled that since Juana's husband had died, the land was no longer in use. Juana petitioned the Commission, saying she used the land to raise cattle, horses, and vegetables. After l2 years, Juana Briones won her land in the U.S. Supreme Court. Although she never learned to read or write, Juana was very good at choosing trustworthy people to read and write for her. She was also very careful with her paperwork and rigorously precise in the drafting of her contracts.

Throughout the remainder of her life, she continued her work as a healer, traveling from Santa Clara to Half Moon Bay, curing people, and helping women bring children into the world. Additionally, Juana took in the suffering and gave them shelter.

She finally bought a house in Mayfield, in l884, so she could be close to her daughters, because her arthritis made it difficult for her to be alone. On December 3, 1889. Juana's dramatic life came to an end.

She lived long enough to see the railroad come into the area and change the way of traveling. She lived to see governments change two different times. She saw the radical transformation in San Francisco, from a wide-open space with few inhabitants to a very crowded city. She saw the Gold Rush and its reverberations upon the land and citizenry. In spite of a patriarchal system, Juana thrived doing what she loved-raising her children, managing the affairs of her ranch, healing the sick and the infirm, and buying and selling property.

On October 5, 1997, Juana's contributions to early California were recognized when a monument was erected in her honor in San Francisco's Washington Square, not far from where her Yerba Buena house stood nearly 150 years before. Juana Briones remains a strong role model who has set a powerful example for women everywhere.

(1) Bowman, J.N. “Juana Briones de Miranda.” Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 3, September 1957 p. 22

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