How to make a Keep-It-In-The-Ground Cantastoria
Below you will find:
- What’s a Cantastoria?
- Script: A short rhyming narration for each page
- Musical-singing Version: video links
- How Can I Make One for my Group or Community?
- Comic about how to make and perform a Cantastoria
NOTE: All the Break Free cantastoria art files, including Spanish, Portuguese, French and Turkish versions can be found HERE.
What’s a Cantastoria?
A cantastoria is a series of big storytelling paintings on cloth that are sung or performed. Canta-storian Clare Dolan calls it “picture story recitation,” and writes:
“Cantastoria is an Italian word for the ancient performance form of picture-story recitation, which involves sung narration accompanied by reference to painted banners, scrolls, or placards. It is a tradition belonging to the underdog, to chronically itinerant people of low social status, yet also inextricably linked to the sacred. It is a practice very much alive today, existing in a wide variety of incarnations around the world, and fulfilling very diverse functions for different populations. Picture-story recitation in its earliest form involved the display of representational paintings accompanied by sung narration. Originating in 6th Century India, this religious and then increasingly secular practice evolved as it spread both east and west.”
In recent decades, cantastoria have increasingly been used in movements to tell our stories, and explain our struggles. As a form of popular education cantastoria provide both visual and auditory learning channels and can hold people’s attention with strong images and performance.
PAGE 1: OPENING/COVER PAGE: KEEP IT IN THE GROUND/BREAK FREE FROM FOSSIL FUELS
When the person reading the script is ready, the cantastoria holders are also ready and have the cover (page 1) up. You can now get the visual and auditory attention of the audience/crowd.
“Would you like to hear the story of Break Free from Fossil Fuels?”
PAGE 2: BREAK FREE FROM FOSSIL FUELS
You can ask people to read aloud the LOOK, LISTEN and DECIDE words with you, and the last phrase of each page. It can help to point to each word/phrase as you say it.
Look – at the smoke swirling in the sky
Listen – to the storms and ask the question why
Decide – to end big oil’s rule
Break free from fossil fuels
PAGE 3: BIG OIL KNEW
Look – way back, they saw climate change was near
Listen – as they covered up what we all fear
Decide – to prosecute the fraud that they grew
Big oil knew
PAGE 4: IT’S UP TO US
Look – as governments talked about what they must do
Listen – as their promises became untrue
Decide – to act now, each other to trust
It’s up to us
PAGE 5: KEEP IT IN THE GROUND
Look – where we must stay: one point five degrees
Listen – as their plans would cause catastrophe
Decide – to leave fossil fuel where it is found
Keep it in the ground
PAGE 6: NOT ON PLANET EARTH
We’ve said N.I.M.B.Y., “Not In My Back Yard”
Now we say N.O.P.E., “Not On Planet Earth”
Look – as we all work to save our home towns
Listen – as the industry fights and bears down
Decide – from N.I.M.B.Y. to N.O.P.E., and fight for all we’re worth
Not on planet earth
PAGE 7: JUST TRANSITION
Look – to those hurt most, who lose a job or home
Listen – to each other, we don’t live alone
Decide – we will all build a coalition
Make a just transition
Musical-singing Version: video links
ARTISTS AND MANY HANDS
This Cantastoria was made with many hands–and maybe yours now–to support Break Free from Fossil Fuels actions as well as longer term fights to Keep It in the Ground.
David Solnit took some of the core elements of the story of the fight for climate justice and asked artists from Paperhand Puppet Intervention (Jan Burger, Alma Stott, and Emma Skurnick) to create a cantastoria of images and a simple script. Paperhand Puppet Intervention is a puppet theater company based out of Saxapahaw, NC. They say, “Since 1998 Paperhand has been using cardboard, cornstarch, bamboo, your old house paints and other assorted junk (treasure to us!) to create giant puppets, shadow plays, parades and pageants. We use this puppetry, performance and creativity to undermine greed, hate and fear and promote, equality, peace and care for the earth.
Jan Burger, David Solnit and Julie Searle wrote the rhyming script together. Kehben Grier of Beehive Collective facilitated the production of 10 sets of “infusion” dyed giant banners at her family’s manufacturing shop (that does not use toxic chemical or water); cut and sewn by San Francisco Bay Area activists, including Misao Brown who sewed all 70 banners herself!; Lush Charitable Giving Program donated production costs; these giant fabric sets have been sent to the Break Free action across North America. David Solnit coordinated (arts-organized) the project as part of his work as an arts organizer for Break Free from Fossil Fuels.