The Six Names of the Bear

a Siberian Folktale from the Tofalarians
adapted and scripted by Alfia Wallace

Performed by the Siberian Tiger Theater 2001

Cast: Narrator, Girl, Father, Bear, Helpers

[Narrator enters and stands stage right. Bear gathering berries and eating them stage left. Father and girl enter stage right and walk over to center stage. They gather flowers and berries as they walk and talk.]

Narrator: A little girl went to the taiga with her father. There they watched a bear with a beautiful red spot near his ear.

Girl: [points to the Bear] Whatís his name?

Father: His name is.. Bear.

Girl: Oh, no. He should have a proper name! I am a girl, but my name is Ooda.

Father: Ok, then the Bear has six names.

[Exit Bear stage left. Helpers remove the berry bush.]

Girl: So many?! Isnít that much too much?

Father: [puts a flower in Oodaís kerchief] Youíll judge for yourself when you come to know how the Bear is busy in the different months of the year.

Girl: And what is he busy with now?

[Helpers put down the river. Enter Bear stage left. Bear fishes in the river with his paw. Catches and eats plastic fish.]

Father: Itís May now. Letís go to the river and have a look at our Bear.

Narrator: On the bank of the stormy river the Bear was fishing. Having eaten his dinner he went hunting. He caught something for breakfast and buried it till morning.

[Bear swings at a hive in a tree, get stung and runs off with half a hive full of honey. Buries it in the ground.]

Father: Now his name is Ashkinjak. It means "Animal-Man-Worker."

[Exit Bear stage left. Father and daughter exit stage right and then come back on stage right to center stage, checking on traps. Ooda looks around for the Bear. ]

Narrator: The girl liked this name. Her father was a hardworking man, too. In July, Ooda and her father again went to the taiga to check on the traps. There were many bear tracks, but no sign of the bear himself.

Father: Thereís a good reason his second name is Shijdenga. It means "The animal who can go anywhere and is good at hiding his tracks."

Girl: Thatís a good thing. That way the poachers wonít shoot him.

Father: Right you are, my dear.

[Father and daughter exit stage right and then come back on stage right to center stage with summer clothes. Helpers put up tree. Enter Bear stage left into "tree", examining, gathering and tossing cedar cones. ]

Narrator: Late in August Ooda and her father again visited familiar places.

Girl: [points to the Bear] Oh, Daddy, look here!

Narrator: Not far away a big bear was sitting on a thick branch of cedar. He was pushing and pulling the branches and ripe cones were dropping on the ground.

Father: [points up to the tree] Here he is! Do you see his spot? His red spot in the sun?

Girl: [jumps up and down] Yes, I do, father! And what is his name now?

Father: Kusugtar. It means "Gatherer of Cedar Cones". Isnít he good at gathering them? Just look Ė he hasnít broken a single branch. And he takes only ripe cones.

[Exit Bear stage left. Helpers set up berry bushes stage left. Father and daughter exit stage right and then come back on stage right to center stage. Enter Bear stage left in raspberry bushes, picking and eating.]

Narrator: Late in September Ooda and her father were walking in the taiga once again. They noticed their Kusugtar among the raspberry bushes. He was helping himself to the raspberries.

Father: Now his name is Chortkanikh. It means "The animal in a warm coat" He has been working and eating all summer long and now he is well-fed and well-dressed. Just look at his coat!

Narrator: The girl felt like patting the Bear with her hand, but the father told her not to disturb the bear.

Father: "Donít disturb the Bear. Heís very busy."

Narrator: And he really was. Having finished his meal, the Bear started digging out a big hole under the tree. When he finished digging he carried dry leaves and moss into the hole. He was going to and fro on his hind legs and working with his paws as if they were arms. It was getting dark. Ooda and her father went home. Chortkanikh kept on working.

[Exit Father and daughter. Bear remains, gathering berries, cones, digging and building. Enter Father and daughter stage left.]

Narrator: A few days later they visited the same places and saw that the Bear had finished building his den Ė his winter lair.

Father: [arm extended] Have a look, my girl. The bear has left a flue, a chimney in his lair. When he moves into his den he fills it with moss.

Girl: He is as careful and thoughtful as our Grandfather, isnít he?

Father: Right you are! And this is his fifth name: Iresang. It means "Bear Grandfather."

Girl: And what is his sixth name?

Narrator: Ooda couldnít help asking.

Father: His sixth name he will get while sleeping in his lair: Kaikerar. It means "A chubby one who sleeps in his den all winter." His summer fat will keep him going all winter til spring. [tickles Ooda]

Girl: [laughs] How very interesting!

Narrator: The Bear heard her laughter and turned his head, forgetting for a moment about his work. The sun fell on his red spot. The Bear then returned to his work, quite near Ooda and her father, but never bothering them. Those who work hard and honestly do not hurt others.

[All actors and helpers come out and stand in a line, hold hands and bow twice. Exit stage right.]


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