Aesop's Fables coming to life today outside Pleasanton Senior Center

Free fun family show will be at Centennial Park

A traveling troupe known as Samuel Peaches' Peripatetic Players will roll into Pleasanton with its brightly painted gypsy caravan for a free performance at 5 p.m. Sunday at Centennial Park, next to the Senior Center.

This summer the performers are presenting "Aesop Amuck," a family-friendly adaptation of Aesop's Fables filled with music, mayhem and physical comedy.

The 60-minute romp through more than a dozen of the fables will include familiar stories, such as "The Tortoise and the Hare," plus lesser known gems including "The Frogs and the Ox," in which a frog attempts to become as large as an ox, and of course meets with disaster.

The live, interactive musical theater production is produced by Idiot String and features a host of Bay Area theater veterans: Sam Bertken, Paul Eric Collins, Joan Howard, Casey Robbins and Marlene Yarosh.

The performance is free and appropriate for all ages. No tickets or reservations are required, so arrive early for choice vantage points on the lawn. Blankets and low chairs are permitted, and picnicking is encouraged. Donations will be accepted.

The Peripatetic Players are based in San Francisco. Their caravan, known as the FluxWagon, serves as the mobile stage for the production and is practically another character in the show. It travels disguised as a brightly painted gypsy wagon, and the ensemble unfolds all the moving parts and machinery as part of the entertainment.

"The way the characters deal with the scenery and props is part of the performance," explained Joan Howard, co-producer of the show, who designed the wagon.

"Aesop Amuck" was adapted by Rebecca Longworth and the ensemble from the famous tales that have been used for more than 2,500 years as instructional stories for both children and adults. They often feature talking animals or personified inanimate objects, and they are very brief, with simple plots.

The fables are credited to Aesop, a slave and storyteller in ancient Greece, and they first appeared in English in 1484. They did not originally include "morals" or "admonitions," since their lessons were thought to be self-evident. Written morals were added to many of the fables by later translators and have now become familiar adages, such as "Don't count your chickens before they hatch," "necessity is the mother of invention" and "beware the wolf in sheep's clothing."

"Aesop Amuck" is a production of Idiot String, a collaboration project between theater-makers Howard and Longworth. The production is directed by Longworth and designed by Howard, Megan Hillard and Viviana Matsuda, with musical direction by Casey Robbins. Matsuda crafted the costumes, including some pieces that are lent to the audience during the course of the play.

For more information, visit Centennial Park is located at 5353 Sunol Blvd.

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