Wiley and the Hairy Man Resource Guide
This resource guide is part of Sarah Rowan' s Senior Project in Theatre.
The Guide begins with a letter to educators who are bringing their students to a school day performance of Wiley and the Hairy Man by Susan Zeder. In addition to the play guide, Sarah created a "kids' space", a place where children can learn about the play, in the Tower Room. This space contained learning stations where the children could see pieces of the scenery in various stages of completion, hear sound effects and play with puppets.
Thank you for taking time to make theatre part of your classroom. This may be the first theatre experience for many of your students. Therefore, they may not be prepared for what they are about to experience. You can help your students enjoy and understand the performance by discussing the play in advance. Enclosed you will find information that will help you do this. Please take time to look through the materials and decide what your students need in order to fully participate as audience members. Enclosed you will find the following information.
1. Information about Wallman Hall 2. Synopsis of and information about the play 3. Theatre etiquette reminders 4. Pre-theatre lesson plan 5. Post-theatre lesson plan 6. Additional Activities 7. Resources
Again, thank you for your interest in theatre for young audiences. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Francene Kirk at 304-367-4170 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Francene Kirk, Ed.D. Associate Professor of Communication and Theatre Arts
Sarah Rowan Education Outreach Coordinator
First put to paper in 1932 as part of the New Deal's Federal Writer's Project, Wiley and the Hairy Man is a classic Southeastern folk tale in the oral tradition that draws from native folk wisdom. Living on the edge of the swamp with his mother (the county's best conjuring woman), Wiley is terrified of the Hairy Man. With the help of his crafty mother and his trusty dog, Wiley must match wits with his nemesis. In order to drive away the Hairy Man, Wiley must trick him three times. Using his own wits, and summoning his own courage, Wiley is finally able to face his own fears and outsmart the Hairy Man. In this production, American Sign Language Interpreters will double the roles of Mammy, Wiley, and the Hairy Man. One of the members of the chorus will also sign.
Theatre Etiquette Reminders
• Please stay in your seat and keep your feet on the floor.
• Please leave food, candy and gum outside the theatre.
• Please make restroom visits before the performance begins.
• Please turn off phones and pagers.
Come prepared to listen.
Focus on what is being said.
Do not let outside distractions interfere with their listening.
Hold their comments until after the performance.
Appalachia is a region of land surrounding the Appalachian Mountains. The land’s 200,000 square miles extend from southern New York to Northern Mississippi. Labeled as “America’s first frontier,” this rough and rugged terrain was first home to Native Americans until Europeans swept in due to westward expansions in the 1700’s.
Large families dwelled in small, self-sufficient farming communities in mountain valleys and hollows. Isolated from the rest of the country, these communities developed intimate values committed to family, work, and church. Mammy and Wiley live in a community like this.
A folktale is a story or legend that is passed down orally from one generation to the next and can become part of a community's tradition. These are stories that usually “grow out of the lives and imaginations of people, or folk” according to Carl Tomlinson and Carol Lynch-Brown’s Essentials of Children’s Literature. With technology and our modern abilities, we now have published versions of folktales that allow more people to get to come into contact with and experience these traditional stories.
There is no specifically known origin of folk music. Folk music started so long ago that it can be considered oral history. Folk music is considered the music of the working class. It discusses topics of everyday life such as work, hardship, love and war. Anyone can make folk music. It can be sung and played by people who are not trained musicians and any instrument that makes sound can be used to make folk music.
Ancient Greek theatre used only one actor. Since one actor could not provide all of the necessary information, the story was told by a “chorus.” A chorus is a group of people who speak in unison telling the details of the story. In Wiley and the Hairy Man, a group of actors serves as the chorus. They tell the story and serve as ideas and images in Wiley’s imagination.
Words in the play that you might not recognize
Folklore - The traditional beliefs, myths, tales, and practices of a people, transmitted orally.
Fairy Tale - A fanciful tale of legendary deeds and creatures, usually intended for children.
Legend - An unverified story handed down from earlier times, especially one popularly believed to be historical.
Rhyme - Correspondence of terminal sounds of words or of lines of verse.
Superstition - An irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome.
Conjure – Change or influence something by reciting a spell or invocation
Dangerous – Likely to cause or result in harm or injury
Magic – conjuring tricks and illusions that make apparently impossible things seem to happen.
Sticker bush – something that sticks, especially a barbed part of a plant. Pappy - father
Hound – A domestic dog, belonging to a breed originally developed for hunting
Wart - a small benign rough lump that grows, usually, on the hands, feet, caused by a virus
Lasses (Taters and Lasses) - Short for molasses which is a thick sticky sweet syrup produced during the refining of raw sugar, which ranges in color from dark brown to gold.
Grits - coarsely ground hulled corn that is boiled and eaten hot with butter, especially at breakfast in the southern United States
Potions - a liquid to be drunk that is medicinal, supposedly magical, or poisonous
Quicksand - a deep mass of loose wet sand that sucks down any heavy object falling onto it
Surface - a solid flat area, e.g. a countertop or the top of a piece of furniture, especially an area on which it is suitable to work
Griddle - a heavy flat metal plate heated and used for cooking food
Sugarcane - a tall tough-stemmed species of grass grown in warm regions throughout the world as a source of sugar, which is obtained from its sweet sap.
Riled - to irritate somebody enough that it provokes anger.
Slimy – like slime, covered with or having the consistency of slime.
Croaker Sack – Appalachian slang for a sack that was used to trap small animals. Gets its name from holding frogs.
Bounding - to move quickly and energetically, with large strides or jumps.
Cyclone - meteorology a violent rotating windstorm or tornado.
Territory - a geographic area that is owned and controlled by a government or country. Raged - sudden and extreme anger.
Gnashed - to grind your teeth together, especially in pain, anger, or frustration
Language What makes it interesting?
The play Wiley and the Hairy Man is originally set in the heart of the south, but we have set our version of Wiley and the Hairy Man in Appalachia. You will see a very specific type of language being used. Some of this language may even sound a little confusing because of the dialect. Dialect is vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation that is specific to a certain region. Below are some examples of both Appalachian and Southern dialects.
• Words ending in ow are usually pronounced as if ending in er. Example – Hollow as Holler and fellow as feller.
• The letter a on the end of a word becomes a y. Example – soda as sody, and Sarah as sarry.
• Words ending in ing usually omit the final g. Example – goin’ and singin’.
• Final d of a word is often pronounced as t. Example – hold as holt, and ballad as ballat.
• The short e is sometimes pronounced as short i. Example – get as git, and yesterday as yisterday.
• The letter s when placed in a word before an n takes on the sound of the letter d. Example – Wasn’t as Wadn’t and Business as budiness.
• Many nouns have the first syllable accented instead of the second syllable which is how it would be spoken in most other dialects. Example – Cement, Detroit, Police, Behind.
• A short front vowel is spoken as a dipthong. Example – bad as ba-ud, and door as do-ur.
• Distinction between specific sound such as the difference between mirror and nearer and fur and for is not apparent.
Words in the play that might be confusing because of the dialect
No count - No good
Keerful - Careful
Swaller - swallow
Shufflin’ – to shuffle your feet
Hongry - hungry
Plum (plum disappear) – Completely
S’posen – Supposing - Imagining or assuming something to be the case.
Some Fun Popular Appalachian Expressions
• Cool as a cucumber
• Naked as a jaybird
• Dead as a doornail
• Hot as a firecracker
• Cute as pie
• Dumb as an ox
• Smooth as a baby’s bottom
• A mind like a steel trap
Pre Show Lesson Plan
CSO – Standard 1: Reading (RLA.S.1)
Students will use skills to read for literacy experiences, read to inform and read to perform a task by:
• identifying and using the dimensions of reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, background knowledge/vocabulary, high frequency words/fluency, comprehension, writing and motivation to read); and
• employing a wide variety of literature in developing independent readers.
Standard 3: Listening, Speaking and Viewing (RLA.S.3)
Students will apply their use of spoken, written and/or visual language to communicate with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
• listen and respond to familiar stories and poems (e.g., summarize and paraphrase to confirm comprehension; recount personal experiences; imagine beyond the literary form).
• define different messages conveyed through visual media (e.g., main ideas and supporting details; facts and opinions; main characters; setting; sequence of events)
Daily Objectives – Students will create tableaux to demonstrate the line of dramatic action.
Materials - A copy of the folk tale. (See Wiley pdf.)
Procedure – Have the students read the adaptation of Wiley and the Harry Man provided in this packet. This version was taken from the traditional folk tale. Have the students show understanding of the elements of the story by creating a tableau for each portion of the plot. They can simply demonstrate the beginning, middle, and end, or the students can get more detailed and make images of the exposition, conflict, climax, and resolution. See handout on “Using Tableau to teach dramatic structure”.
Assignment - Article Writing Activity. Tell the students to use what they have learned about conflict, climax, and resolution to write a newspaper article about an eye-witness account of the Hairy Man. They should be sure to include things such as a description or the Hairy Man, as well as how the eye-witness felt when he/she saw the Hairy Man. Remind them the article should have a beginning, middle, and end.
Post Show Lesson Plan
CSO - Standard 2: Writing (RLA.S.2)
Students will employ a wide range of writing strategies to communicate effectively for different purposes by:
• developing the writing process;
• applying grammatical and mechanical properties in writing; and
• gathering and using information for research purposes.
Materials – the Venn diagram.
Procedure – Have the students discuss the differences between the story they read and the play they saw.
Assignment – Have each of the students show their understanding of both the play and the story by filling out the Venn diagram.
Using tableau to teach dramatic structure
Tableau – a frozen picture; a “snapshot” of the action Dramatic Structure
Exposition – At the beginning of the story (when the curtain goes up), we learn information we need to know to understand the story. Who are these characters? What is the situation? Where are they? When is this scene taking place?
Conflict – A struggle between two opposing forces. The struggle can take place between two or more characters, but it can also take place within the characters. Students may have learned about literary conflict in English class (person vs. person; person vs. nature, person vs. supernatural, person vs. technology, and person vs. self).
Climax – The turning point. Students will often say that this is the height of the action or the most exciting part of the story. In order for the plot to come to climax, something must change. This change often involves the “taking” or “giving” of status.
Resolution – The struggle comes to an end; order is restored ( it may not be the order we want).
Status – One’s position relative to that of others
Directions Go over the information about the structure of a story (the line of dramatic action). Choose a fairy tale or story that is familiar to the students. Ask the students questions such as…
If this story was a play or movie, what would happen in the first scene? (Ex: Cinderella is scrubbing the floor as her stepmother yells at her and her stepsister look on with disdain.)
Explain to the students that in this exercise, you will be using a dramatic technique known as “tableau” and that a tableau is a “frozen picture.” Next, ask the students to identify characters that might be a part of the first scene and ask for volunteers to represent those characters. Bring those students to the playing space. Ask the other students the following questions.
Where would you place the character in the scene and why? (Cinderella might be on her knees. Her stepmother might be standing over her. The stepsisters might be looking on from a distance.)
What would each character be doing in the scene? (Cinderella might be scrubbing the floor. The stepmother might be pointing out a spot Cinderella missed. The stepsisters might be laughing or mocking Cinderella.)
Ask the students to freeze in the positions created by the class. You may need to coach them as to how to stand or as to the kind of facial expression to use. Ask the students questions about what the positions of the characters in the tableau communicate. For example-
Who is the most important character in this scene?
How do you know that character is the most important?
Does the most important character have the status? Why or why not?
Next, put the students into groups and ask them to choose a fairy tale or story. (You might choose to continue with the same tale.) Ask them to create four tableaux from their tale that represent the line of dramatic action (exposition, conflict, climax and resolution). Give them time to work together. Then, ask each group to perform their frozen pictures for the audience. (Hopefully, the fairy tales will be familiar to the students and they will recognize each tableau.) Question the class about each picture. Here are some examples of questions.
What is happening in this tableau?
What part of the line of dramatic action do you think this tableau represents and why?
What made the action clear to you?
Do you have any questions for the group about why they chose this scene to represent the exposition (conflict, climax and resolution)? (They might disagree with the choice.)
If you were to do this scene again, what might you do differently?
Handout by Francene Kirk
After the Performance
Have the students get in two groups. One group will read the part of the Hairy Man and the other will read the part of Wiley. Have the children read the lines in unison while bragging about who is the best conjurer.
Hairy Man: I is the best at conjuring in the whole southwest.
Wiley: P…P…Prove it! My mammy she can turn herself into something she ain’t.
Hairy Man: Shoot, that ain’t nothin’.
Wiley: I reckon you cain’t.
Hairy Man: I reckon I can.
Wiley: You cain’t!
Hairy Man: I can!
Hairy Man: CAN!
Evans, M, Santelli, R, & George-Warren, H (2004). The Appalachians America's First and Last Frontier. New York, NY: Random House.
Harvey, Curtis E. Coal and Mining Coal in Appalachia: An Economic Analysis.
(2007, November 21). CONNa Dance Bands f CONNecticut. Retrieved February 4, 2008, from CONNa CONNection Web site:
Freese, Barbara (2003). Coal A Human History. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
This Side of the Mountain. Retrieved February 4, 2008, from Appalachian Heritage Web site: http://community.berea.edu/appalachianheritage/issues/fall2007/thissideofthemountain.pdf