Ring Ring Ring the Banjo: A Visit with Stephen Foster
“Ring, Ring the Banjo: A
Visit with Stephen Foster” is a musical and theatrical portrayal of the great
American Songwriter, Stephen Foster. It’s educational goals are to familiarize
and involve students with Stephen Foster’s wonderful songs that are such an
integral part of our American Cultural Heritage, expose them to the variety of
instrumentation which Mick Souter employs during the program, including banjo,
guitar, autoharp, dulcimer, piano, harmonica and “jaw bones”, and to explore
the important historical context that shaped Stephen Foster’s music and
The program is performed “first person” as Stephen Foster. Through this character portrayal, Mick Souter relates personal insights into the background and inspiration of many of Foster’s beloved songs including: “My Old Kentucky Home”, “Oh Susanna”, “The Old Folks at Home” (“The Swannee River”), “The Camptown Races”, “Beautiful Dreamer” and several more.
During the songs, which are accompanied on an ever-changing array of instruments, the audience is encouraged to join in and participate by singing, clapping and other body movements, so there is a definite interactive aspect to the program that captures the essence of Stephen Foster’s musical legacy. Numerous content standards for MUSIC are addressed through this aspect of the program.
The narrative, monologue portion of the program touches on certain aspects of the pre Civil War era that directly impact on Foster’s writing including: paddlewheel riverboats, the Gold Rush and 49ers, plantation life, and the importance of family. This brings in content standards for HERITAGE STUDIES, including American History, geography and citizenship.
While “Ring, Ring the Banjo: A Visit with Stephen Foster” provides an up beat, enjoyable artistic experience that involves the audience throughout, it is also a substantial cultural experience designed to impart important historical and biographical information crucial to the context of the songs.