So You Want To Be A Hero Study Guide

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written and performed by Cathy Kaemmerlen,

Program Description

So You Want to Be a Hero:  America’s Riproaring Tall Tales is a one-woman show by Cathy Kaemmerlen in which she portrays three wives of some of our favorite tall tale figures:  Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett, lovingest wife of Davy Crockett; Fanny Feboldson, wife of Febold Febolson, the inventingest farmer to ever hit the Midwest and Nebraska’s striped weather; and Slue Foot Sue, the almost wife of Pecos Bill, the greatest cowboy to ever hit the West.  Using three audience members to portray the “hero” husbands, and other audience members to play Annie Oakley and to operate props, this 50 minute show is a fun filled adventure of exaggerated storytelling, music, and larger than life characters who helped tame our young, wild country from sea to shining sea.

Artists Bio

Cathy Kaemmerlen, professional actress, dancer, and storyteller, is known for her variety of characters, one-woman shows, and for her rapport with audiences.  A performer and “creator of shows” since she can remember, she has toured in schools coast to coast, since receiving a BA in English/elementary education from UNC-Charlotte, and a MFA in dance performance/choreography/theatre at the University of Wisconsin.  She tours through Tattlingtales Productions, the Georgia and South Carolina Touring Arts Rosters, Fulton County Teaching Museums, G.E.T. Educational Program, and has received numerous grants and honors.  She has authored two books with the History Press:  GENERAL SHERMAN AND THE GEORGIA BELLES and THE HISTORIC OAKLAND CEMETERY:  SPEAKING STONES and one with Pelican Press, THE BUZZ ON HONEYBEES, spring 2012.
Sara Gaare has been a teaching artist for the past two years, performing all around metro Atlanta. She also teaches and performs improv and sketch comedy in Atlanta with the Clarkston Community Center, The Village Theater, and Highwire Comedy Co. She created Power Suit, a monthly, all female comedy variety show she hosts and performs sketches in. Previously she lived in Chicago where she trained and performed at iO, The Second City, The Annoyance, ComedySportz, and many others. There she created the award winning sketch group MRS. that performed all around the city and did many sketch comedy festivals. Graduate of Pebblebrook Performing Arts High School in Cobb County and Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, she is the daughter of Cathy Kaemmerlen.


Background on  Art Form

Telling stories is an oral tradition, dating back to when mankind first developed a language or form of communication.  Storytelling is a universal way of passing down information to be saved and remembered for generations to come.  It is an interactive art form in which the storytellers’ passion for the story, material, and information, is passed on to the audience, who sorts through, interprets, stores, and synthesizes what is heard.


Teachers, please read this to your students.
Today we are going to see a one-woman play entitled SO YOU WANT TO BE A HERO: AMERICA’S RIPROARING TALL TALES presented by an actress/storyteller named Cathy Kaemmerlen.  She is going to portray the wives of three of our tall tale figures:  Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett, the wife of Davy Crockett from Tennessee; Fanny Feboldson, wife of farmer Febold Feboldson who tried to tame the striped weather of Nebraska and mixed things up worse than ever; and Slue Foot Sue, the almost wife of Pecos Bill, our greatest Western cowboy.  Tall tales are exaggerated stories about people who usually are made up, are larger than life, have difficulties and problems to solve, and solve their problems in outrageous and funny ways.  You can laugh through these tales and be stretched into believing they are absolutely true.

Warm Up Questions to set the stage for engaging students:

.What is a tall tale?
.Why do we have tall tales?
.Are any tall tales based on true situations and true characters?
.Can you think of any other tall tale figures or stories?
.Why do you think early American pioneers created tall tales?
.Do you think we need heroes today?  Why or why not?
.What makes someone a hero or shero?

Vocabulary to review before the show:

Tall tale: an exaggerated story with a main character who has a problem to solve and solves it using humorous and improbable solutions and super human abilities.
Tall talk:  another way of calling a tall tale
Brag talk:  trying to outdo another character by one-upmanship.  Anything he can do, I can do better.
Whoppers:  giant lies that are made to seem believable
Striped weather:  weather within a 24 hour period that has many changes going from fair to foggy to snowy to windy to hot and dry all in one day
Lariat:  a lasso used by cowboys to rope cows
Shero:  a female form of a hero
Yarns:  tall tales and stories spun from whopper

Warm Up Questions for meeting the Georgia Performance Standards for “Listening/Speaking/Viewing”:

.Describe the perfect audience.
.What are some of our class rules for being good listeners?
.How do we show someone we appreciate their visit to our school or classroom?
.How does being part of an audience help make you a good citizen?
.What are some examples of bad audience behavior or attitudes?
.How does a negative audience member effect your enjoyment of a show or performance?
.How would this make the performer feel?
.How do we want the performer to feel when they leave our school or classroom?


.Make a list of tall tale figures.
.Who are some modern day tall tale figures?
.What are the common aspects of a tall tale hero?
.Why do we have and need tall tale heroes?
. Make up your own tall tale hero and give him some problems to solve.  Make the problems and the solutions as outrageous as possible.  Share them with the class.
.Make up your own tall talk coming up with ridiculous answers to:  How hot was it?  (So hot you could fry eggs on the side walk.)  How dry was it?  (So dry that our cows tongues stuck out so low we tripped over them.)  How bold were they?  (Bold enough to eat the clothes off our clothesline and eat the clothesline too.)


Doc Stovall’s cd:  Passing It Down:  The Songs of the West and the Westward Expansion,
Sons of the Pioneers cd:  Pecos Bill and other songs,
Mary Pope Osborne, American Tall Tales, Scholastic Press
Paul R. Beath, Febold Feboldson, Tall Tales from the Great Plains, University of Nebraska Press
Carol Beach York, Febold Feboldson, The Fix-It Farmer, Troll Associates
Arianne Dewey, The Narrow Escapes of Davy Crockett, Greenwillow Books
Michael A. Lofaro, Davy Crockett’s Riproarious Shemales and Sentimental Sisters,Stackpole Books
David Leeming and Jake Page, Myths, Legends, and Folktales of America, Oxford Press
Anne Malcolmson, Yankee Doodle’s Cousins, Houghton Mifflin Company
Reader’s Digest, American Folklore and Legend
Gerald Milnes, Granny Will Your Dog Bite, Knopf
Anne Issacs, Swamp Angel, Dutton Children’s Books
Paul Brett Johnson, Old Dry Frye, Scholastic Press
Walter Blair, Tall Tale America, University of Chicago Press
Robert D. San Souci, Cut From the Same Cloth, Philomel Press
James E. Myers, The Great American Liar, Lincoln-Hernden Press
B.A. Botkin, A Treasury of Western Folklore, Bonanza Press
B.A. Botkin, A Treasury of American Folklore, Bonanza Press