Most people recognize the title “Strega Nona” from the children’s book illustrated by Tomie de Paola, but a similar and much older tale exists in Polish folklore under the title “The Little Porridge Pot.” I first found the original story in a children’s anthology of folklore handed down from my mother’s father. I was twelve and looking for tales I could memorize and tell while babysitting, and that story, with it’s repetitive magic spell that brings the Porridge Pot to life, was perfect for bedtimes. More than twelve years later, with the bones of the story still firmly set in my head, it was a perfect place to start developing a solo project.
The inaugural performance was June 23 at Eb’s restaurant in Allegany, NY, where the owners graciously allowed us to take over their back room. I learned a lot from the reactions and responses of the kids that day, and have taken Strega Nona back to the workshop for further tweaks and some lengthening. With luck it will be on the road by springtime!