“Ifetayo! Love brings happiness.” Tiny legs dangling on over-sized chairs. “Ifetayo! Love brings happiness.” Grownups sitting beside their children in anticipation. “Ifetayo! Love brings happiness.” The sound of the djembe putting us all at high attention. “Ifetayo! Love brings happiness.” It was time for “The Return of the Story Mother” and we were all excited as well known actress and Baltimore native, Maria Broom’s voice made its way into the space before she did. Jali-D the Drum Talker walked in right behind her with steady, rhythmic strokes against his drum.
I laughed and learned and would recommend this beautiful experience for any family.
Her voice was somewhat magical and tickled our ears in a way the brought about feelings of pleasantness and safety while the tiny zills she wore chimed between her fingertips. At first, I thought, I am a grown woman. Why am I sitting in a children’s play ALONE? But mid-way through I was in tears. Tears of healing, laughter, and joy brought on by being in the presence of children learning examples of kindness, love, empathy, and the power of affirmation.
Maria Broom delivers these lessons in the form of stories in a motherly and extremely nurturing way. Her opening ritual involving a fire she creates made those little faces in the audience light up as we began to send love to those in our lives that might need it at the moment. This would mark the beginning of the joy I felt that encouraged tears that fell from my face. Learning to hold someone in our thoughts and wrapped in love at such an early age and in such an intentional way, teaches our children how to support each other in one of the best ways they can. My heart fluttered as they learned and relearned lessons such as this accompanied by a handful of American sign language to go along with it.
As Broom danced and pranced from one story to the next, actively involving the tiny humans and the adults that set beside them, Jali – D the Drum Talker’s fun rhymes brought about effortless giggles as they appeared in the performance intermittently. I was amazed by his rhyming skills and enjoyed his remix of the alphabet that made it easy to rhyme along with him.
While Broom’s stories were all beneficial and covered lessons of sharing and believing in ourselves, the story that rattled my heart was the Story of Jamal the village bully. “The Village Bully” is a book and story written and told my Maria Broom that was inspired by a tradition held by a tribe in Africa. The tradition is that whenever someone does something wrong in the village everyone in the village gathers together and places them in a circle and tells them something good about themselves. Their goal is to remind them of who they are and that they are not this bad thing they’ve done. Maria takes this very concept and places it amidst the day-to-day culture of American children and shares a story of empathy forgiveness and healing that adults and children could stand to benefit from.
As the tear drops rippled down my face and I did my best to hide them, I danced in a line with children and their parents. I laughed and learned and would recommend this beautiful experience for any family. I’m certain we will be waiting once more for, “The Return of the Story Mother.”
Running Time: 45–60 mins with no intermission.
“Return of the Story Mother,” Featuring Maria Broom is part of Baltimore Center Stage’s new Family Series, final performance was on June 17th. For more information about Baltimore Center Stage click here.