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Theatre icon Penelope Spencer to tell folklore tales in the Caroni Swamp

Updated: Dec 18, 2022

If you are looking for someone to tell you a scary folklore story while on an evening boat ride in the Caroni Swamp then there are few better than award-winning actress and author Penelope Spencer.

The local theatre icon will be one of the storytellers for the Caroni Swamp Dinner Tour and Storytelling Event which will be held on the second day of the Film and Folklore Festival.

"The boats will be going down the river and we will be telling short stories to the patrons as they go sightseeing. Then we will have an event when all boats come together for a reenactment. It sounds like so much fun."

She said there were lessons to be learned from the local folklore stories.

"Papa Bois takes care of the forest and the idea of conservation and eco-tourism comes out from that. His wife Mama D'lo teaches about water reserves. La diablesse and douens teach children about being inside by a certain hour. The characters in these stories can guide and teach the knowledge of those things."

Spencer said the Film and Folklore Festival is strongly needed in this country.

"We need to go back to those days. Children have no idea of soucouyant, la diablese and Papa Bois. My book is a central part of that for me."

Back in 2016 Spencer co-authored the local folklore anthology "Tales from the Forest" with Lyla Persad, and for the tour, she will be telling stories from her book as well.

Spencer was also involved in creating a promotional video for the festival.

"The video talks about modern children not experiencing things like marble pitching, hopscotch, jump rope, or playing cricket with a coconut branch."

For the video, she spoke with several children, mainly from Point Fortin, and some of them had no idea about the traditional games. She recalled asking one boy to take a stick and roll a bicycle rim but he did not understand the point of it.

"They don't understand how pitching marble could be fun. It was real eye-opening to see how those games are gone and children don't appreciate them. The video spoke about connecting with that time in life and connecting with them."

She expressed hope the festival could light a flame under parents to teach their children about these traditional games, and how much fun they could be, and also to take them out to hike and discover historical sites.

The Caroni Swamp Dinner Tour and Storytelling Event will be held on Friday, May 28.

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