Some folks says ye can pert nigh hear the screen door creak and taste the ice-cold apple cider when ye hear an Appalachian tale told by Jack's Mama. Jest a plain ol' mountain woman, Jack's Mama has been a favorite of audiences for over a quarter of a century.
More about the Stories Jack's Mama Tells
When this country's first settlers came, many arrived with few possessions. The stories that had been such an integral part of their heritage, however, did survive the perils of sea and land, stored securely in the memories of the people.Most of the stories that make up Appalachia's oral tradition came from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Germany, France, and Africa. Once in this country, many of the tales - as well as the people - mingled with the Native Americans who already were here, and had their own stock of stories. The Jack Tales constitute an important cycle in this tradition.
Many of the motifs found in the Appalachian stories are found in literary works such as Beowulf, the Arthurian Legend, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare's works (including King Lear and The Taming of the Shrew), the Bible, and Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, to name a few.
Despite the origin of the tales, the characters usually became Americanized as they were passed down in this country. For example, Jack, the Appalachian giant-killer, is likable and easy-going (except when it comes to giants), unlike his English counterpart, who is a cocksure, arrogant young hero. Jack, in fact, is Everyman.
Research for this program was funded in part by a Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship grant.
With nearly 60 tales from which to draw, Jack's Mama is adaptable to all audiences and ages, as well as a variety of venues, including festivals, schools, libraries, museums, and churches. All of Clifton's shows are family-friendly.