Child's Play - The Storyteller

by Elisa Miller - February, 1999


Once upon a time, there was a storyteller named Vered Hankin.

She selected stories from history that were funny, moving, inspiring and educational, all at the same time. Vered traveled all over the nation, performing in theaters, schools, synagogues, parties, even on radio, TV and film. From time to time, multi-instrumentalist Steve Roiphe joined her and added a rich backdrop of sound to enhance the stories. Vered's unique style incorporated dance, music, and storytelling with magic and grace. Her powerful stories captivated audiences from ages 3 to 113.

One day, Vered was asked to tell a story to a big rowdy group of kids who refused to settle down. The teacher tried to quiet the children by introducing the story and asking them to pay attention, but the children just became louder and wilder. The principal tried to quiet the children by yelling and threatening them, but the children just shrieked back at her and jumped in their chairs.

Finally, the principal and the teacher shrugged their shoulders and stepped aside, and Vered took the stage. Slowly and calmly, she began to sing. The children had to strain to hear and they began to quiet down. Vered magically transformed herself into an oak tree, a reed, and the wind. Steve's harmonica blows a breeze and Vered whirled and danced. The children grow silent. The wind swayed their arms and the wind's song sang through their lips. Vered brought the story to life and the children lived it…

Once a long time ago, by the river, a reed swung happily to the rhythm of the wind. One day as the reed silently swinging, its gaze caught a nearby oak tree. "Hmmm," muttered the reed. "If only I could be as tough as that oak tree. I would stand my ground and no one could move me in any direction…." Puffing by, the wind heard this and cried: "Ooooh! The oak tree isn't so tough and neither are you! Get out of my way! I'll show you! Ooooh!" The reed shuddered, but the oak tree stood firm. "Ha!" cried the oak tree. "I am not scared of you. I will not budge!" With all her might, the wind shook the oak tree's leaves and branches, and one by one they broke off to join her. The reed looked on, terrified, but the oak tree stood firm ."I won't move! Go on!" bellowed the oak tree. "Humph," the wind muttered, twisting her muscular arms under the oak tree's roots; with a "Hiyah!" she swooped up the oak tree and flung him into the air. The reed trembled: "If the wind could uproot the oak tree, what could she do to me?" Slyly swirling towards him, the wind blew left and right. The poor reed had no choice but to follow. The harder the wind shook, the quicker the reed resonded, until soon, the two were dancing. "Ooooh!" exclaimed the wind. "Wherever I swing, you swing. Instead of fighting me, you listen; you understand." The wind winded into a whirling stop, and then shuffled off, lightly humming "Ooooooh…". The reed remained, swaying, and smiling: "Perhaps things aren't always what they seem. Maybe I'm not so weak after all and I may have even made a friend." Indeed, from that day, whenever the wind whirled through, she would slow down next to the reed, extending her arms for a dance.

When the story ended, there was a pause. Then wondrous applause and laughter. The children had listened and learned.

… and everybody lived happily ever after.

"The Reed and the Wind" by Vered Hankin © 1999, based on an Aesop's fable