Our first full-length production, Red Rooster Tales: the Train to Yesterday, premiered at Cabrini Center in Parrish in 2014. It was a play based on real stories plus some local legends, mixed in with original music, about Manatee County. It featured a company of local actors, musicians, technicians, designers and directors. Why should a storytelling play about Parrish be called Red Rooster Tales? Here's the backstory, told first-hand:
"Once upon a time, way back in the 1950s, there was a chicken rancher here in Parrish. That was my daddy. Folks came to buy eggs from him, but they couldn't find a rooster anywhere around--just 3,000 chickens. One man, I won’t tell you who, but let’s just say that his name rhymes with “cherish,” would come to get eggs and ask my dad where the rooster was. My dad told him that he didn’t need a rooster to stir things up with all his chickens. The man told him that it didn’t seem right that those chickens never got to see a rooster. Daddy got tired of him asking where the rooster was, so he finally gave in. He cut a rooster out of wood, painted him red, and stuck him out by the end of the road. And that’s how Red Rooster Road got its name.
People really liked that red rooster, but periodically he would disappear. Just flew the coop, so to speak: a victim of “fowl” play. I think that daddy was secretly pleased that his rooster was so popular, because he would just make another one and put the next red rooster out by the road. The disappearances seemed to happen around Halloween, for some unbeknownst reason. Most of the time, we never saw that bird again, but one time we found him in Tampa!
The Rooster Who Went to College
Once when my sister was away at college, Dad went to visit her. The two of them were walking across campus when they spotted a familiar bird roosting in the window of a sorority house. My sister thought (or hoped) it was just a strange coincidence, but Daddy didn’t think so. Upon closer inspection, they discovered that this red rooster was definitely THE Parrish red rooster. Our bird had one leg that had broken off, and my father had put it back in place with a screw. Sure enough, this piece of poultry had a screwed-on leg! My father was proud that his rooster had made it all the way to college, so he left him there to finish his education. And to be the only rooster in that sorority house."
So, why Red Rooster Tales?
For thousands of years, roosters have symbolized the hope of new beginnings. In ancient Greek, Asian, and Christian symbolism, the rooster represents good fortune, health, strength, and prosperity. Each morning, as he chases away the dark of night and greets the dawn with his crowing, the rooster brings us the promise of a fresh start, the hope that this new day will be better than the last.
With Red Rooster Tales (which is growing into a collection of home-spun stories such as "Neighbors" and "Stories Your Mama Never Told You"), we intend to explore and celebrate our local culture, while looking ahead to all that Parrish can become if we join together. Everyday people have been telling each other stories since the dawn of time. Storytelling helps us discover our common humanity and create meaning from the chaos of everyday life. We honor each other by telling and listening to each other's stories. So come see the next installment of Red Rooster Tales or another of our shows. Maybe you'll learn something about the Parrish that once was, or your new neighbors, or even yourself.