Storytelling & Performances

In storytelling performance, I want to create a visceral experience of science through mythology.  Giving voice to both scientific fact and ancient myth, modern audiences have the same chance as ancients to experience scientific information as divine wisdom; experience science as archetype, myth as truth.” 

— Susan Strauss

Contact Susan directly to schedule a performance. She draws from these stories to create the right performance for your audience and event.

Coyote Tales

Coyote, the wily hero/fool makes his tracks across America in adventures told by Native Americans for thousands of years. Often boastful, forgetful, selfish and sly, Coyote ignites and delights the fool in each of us at any age. These tales generate a better understanding of Native humor, culture and the “sacred teaching fool.”  All stories developed from anthropological, ethnographic and linguistic texts and meetings with Native elders.

Dreams of Animals

Myths, folktales & true life anecdotes convey how connected are the mythical and biological aspects of animals.  Performance may include the ancient positive myths of Wolf, Bear, Elk, Coyote, Frog, Bee, Snake, Eagle, Loon and other birds.  Possible titles:  Elk & The Troll King (Swedish), Snow White & Rose Red (German), Frog Creates Day & Night (Nez Perce), Brer Snake (African American),  Wolf, the Sun & the Moon (Norse), Five Sparrows (Japan).

Tree with Golden Apples:
Botanical & Agricultural Wisdom in World Myth

The Zuni Creation Myth unfolds remarkable images of photosynthesis and the evolution of corn.  Multi-cultural myths reveal the extraordinary ways plants support life on earth and awaken an undeniable curiosity about the quiet green world.  Stories may include:  Plants Bring Medicine (Cherokee), Venus and Adonis (Roman), Persephone and Demeter (Greek), Coyote & the Grass People (Assiniboin), Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life (Norse) and others.

Secrets from the Dark Forest: 
Mythic Images of Trees

Since the origin of culture, trees have been revered as a life source and a translator between heaven and earth.  The “dark forest” in European tales is always a magical place of transformation.  Myths gathered from Iceland, Japan, Costa Rica, Native America, Africa and Russia. 

Birds of Fortune: 
Blessing Stories From the Book of Nature

Secrets of prosperity sing out in the nature wisdom stories of every world culture.  Here are stories of the “Natural Philosopher” whether fool or wise elder.  The “Book of Nature” is an ancient term.  One “reads” in this “book” with the same reverence as any sacred text and discovers divine wisdom planted in natural fact.  Stories may include: St. Francis & The Birds, Language of the Birds (Hassidic Jewish), Coyote Goes to Sky (Karuk), Nazrudin & The Mulberry Tree (Zufi), Igdrasil, Tree of Life (Norse), Birds of Fortune (Japanese), and personal anecdotes.  These stories engage the young while lighting the hearts of adults.

The Mythic Wolf 

Since the Dark Ages in Europe, stories such as “Little Red Riding Hood” and werewolf tales have perpetuated a fear of the wolf that has no support in actual fact.  Viewed as a family animal and a helper to humankind, ancient world myths reveal an archetype of the wolf that is close to its biological nature:  Devoted parent, essential role of the preditor, spirit guide or guardian of the mysteries of the wild.  Stories include:  Skidi Pawnee Creation, “Wolf’s Eyelashes” (Japan), “She Who Lived With Wolves” (Lakota), “The Wolf & The Firebird” (Russia), “Skoll & Hati” (Norse), “Spako, the Wolf Goddess” (Persia), anecdotes from Dr. David Mech and other noted wolf biologists and “Little Red Riding Boots Moves To L.A.”.

The Bird’s Tale

A celebration of the rich and delicate symbolism of the bird in global mythology.  Frequently, birds represent the voice of spirit or intuition.  As varied as eagles, loons, doves and sparrows, birds are characterized through movement and voice. Stories include:  “Red Bird of the Wildlands” (Nigeria), “The Hundredth Dove” (England), Mark Twain’s “The Bluejay Yarn”, The Loon Mother (Athabaskan), “Finest, the Falcon” (Russia), “Five Sparrows” (Japan) and others. 

Waters of Life:
Water & Marine Life Myths

This extraordinary substance — too often taken for granted — upon which all life on earth depends — through which salmon find their birth river — moving in and among all of us — plant, animal, atmosphere — water is celebrated in these stories of Salmon Boy (Haida), Creation of Drinking Water (Pawnee), Dionysus & Dolphins (Greek), Yosemite’s River of Mercy Speaks At Conference (original), Coyote Brings Salmon (Yakima), Monster Woman at Pacific Coast (Wasqu), Tree Woman Becames the Sea (Costa Rica), Fisherman & His Wife (German), The Serpent’s Pool (Zuni), Heyoke Brings Water to Sundance (original), Swimming Is My Religion (original), The Pond’s Story and others. 

Witches, Queens & Goddesses:
Mythic Images of the Feminine 

Every woman can recognize her own journey toward wholeness in the blossoming imagery of ancient myths and fairytales. Myths and fairy tales from Greek, Norwegian, Russian, English and Native American origins reveal aspects of the feminine nature so different from images presented in the mass media.

Visible Distance: 
Landscape in the American Mind

Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact … Visible distance behind and before us, is respectively our image of memory and hope.” 

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Vast open landscapes inspired American’s early identity and birthed a world-wide conservation movement.  American landscape painters from the Hudson River School enhanced this identity by setting before America a vision of landscape as divine creation.  This performance interweaves historic stories from the opening of the West, the Nez Perce Flight, the lives of Thomas Moran, George Inness, RW Emerson, John Muir and Lady Bird Johnson with modern anecdotes and Native American mythic story in collaboration with Eurythmy Movement and music.  This performance reveals the spiritual core shared by American landscape painters and Native American culture — a core expressing the huge place landscape holds in the soul of American idenity.  As the Great Mother in the Zuni Creation Myth states, “How will my children know one place from another?”  Driven by these mythic/ historic roots, this performance answers the question:  Why do we need landscape?