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Once Upon a Time at Boxtales Theatre Company

Once upon a time, the Greeks waged war on the people of Troy. Odysseus, a Greek mariner, left his wife and son to fight in the war and never returned. People across the land believe him dead. However, he was not. The goddess Kalypso was holding him captive. As unwanted suitors were swarming his wife, Odysseus was running out of time to return home. With Greek gods thwarting his every move, would he make it back in time? For Boxtales Theatre Company, a professional theatre company that brought this tale of Odysseus to a young audience back in 2005, the more important question was – what did he learn along the way?

“The lessons that can be learned from myths and folktales are more powerful than those prepared for children in the modern world because they have a level of darkness and show people how to deal with real matters,” said Michael Andrews, Executive Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Boxtales Theatre Company. “In our work, we strive to share these myths with young people through theater to provide a safe environment for them to deal with hard feelings and realities, like anger and death, that are not always present in the ‘happily ever after’ stories.”

In 1994, three men with very different artistic passions, but a mutual love of mythology, formed Boxtales Theatre Company to bring myths and folktales from around the world to young audiences using masks, movement, music and storytelling. Although based in Santa Barbara, the company performs at theatres, museums, schools and festivals throughout the western United States and Mexico and occasionally travels to cultures in other countries to increase its knowledge of certain myths. The goal of each performance is to use a story to inspire imagination, increase cross-cultural understanding and share values with audiences that can be translated into everyday life.

“The biggest reward from our work is when we have stories fed back to us by children who grew up in our programs and are now sharing the tales with their own children,” said Andrews. “Storytelling is sneaky stuff because as soon as the ‘once upon a time’ web is cast, we can get lost in a story without even realizing we are learning along the way.”

Recently, the Santa Barbara Foundation provided an Express Grant to Boxtales to help develop their next performance, “Stand Up Stories: Multicultural Tales to Live By.”

“We are so grateful for the Santa Barbara Foundation for providing us with a grant that will assist in creating production that is aligned with education content standards established by the state,” said Andrews. “The positive impact that participation in the arts has on many young people ultimately impacts our entire community.”

For more information on the Santa Barbara Foundation Express Grant program, please contact Kathy Simas, North County Director, at
North County Headquarters:  (805) 346-6123  |   2625 S. Miller Street, Suite 101, Santa Maria, CA 93455
South County Headquarters:  (805) 963-1873  |  1111 Chapala Street, Suite 200, Santa Barbara, CA 93101