Date of Award

Spring 1991

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Grange, William

Second Advisor

Krajec, Debra

Third Advisor

Kloth, Kenneth


In the view of Joseph Campbell the myths of a society are "revealed truth," deeply entwined in the lives of the people who believe them. Many of the myths of earlier societies reflect a profound respect for the natural world; a respect reflected in their ways of life. People in modern times seem to have lost this sense of harmony with the environment, a fact which is underscored by the continuing destruction of our planet. VOICES OF OUR ANCESTORS was written in an attempt to reconnect audiences with these ancient myths and legends. It was first performed at Kettle Moraine High School on 22, 23 and 24 March 1991, with a cast of 10 high school students. Original music was composed by another student, Sam Ecoff. The play is a dramatization of six different tales; two each from Japanese, African, and American Indian cultures. Each of these societies has a rich mythological tradition and great respect for the natural world. The focus of the first half of the play is on the creation of the world and the emphasis in the second half is on humans and their behavior within their environment. I selected the six stories after extensive reading. In addition to fitting the major premise of the play, I chose stories with the greatest dramatic potential. In the tradition of Oriental theatre each story has a narrator who tells the bulk of the tale while the other performers use movement and dialogue to enact what is being told. I looked for strong visual images and interesting characters in order to help high school performers "see" the stories and develop appropriate movement and characterization.