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FASTER THAN SOONER
by Storyteller Antonio Sacre

www.antoniosacre.com
Approximate Length of Video and Audio: 7 minutes.

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 THEME
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The power of knowing one another’s stories and how to learn history, culture, and stories about other countries.

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 STORY DESCRIPTION
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tonyIn this excerpt from his longer story “Faster than Sooner,” Antonio Sacre illuminates the power of knowing one another’s stories. While studying to become an actor, Sacre happened into storytelling through a class at Northwestern University. Because he found that he was often excluded from acting jobs because he was seen as either “too ethnic” or “not ethnic enough,” he took on storytelling performances to pay the bills. During that experience, he became expert at bilingual story telling as a way to reach both the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking students in the Chicago schools. As he developed his craft, Sacre traveled to Mexico and other countries in Latin America, learning the history, culture, and stories of countries about which he had never learned while in school.

After one of his storytelling performances in a school, a teacher tells him that “storytelling can save the world.” Sacre wondered if that was an overstatement but then remembered a time when knowing another’s story made all the difference in how he felt about another person and how he understood a situation.

Sacre then tells of the time he stood up to the class bully in fourth grade. The bully, who was three years older than everyone else because he had been held back so often, was intimidating a particularly small student. When Sacre stepped in to defend the student, he and the bully got into a fight that landed them in the principal’s office. While sitting there, the bully began crying; Sacre, feeling smug that he had caused the bully to cry, finally asks what’s wrong.

The bully confesses that this will be his third detention, which will result in his expulsion. Getting expelled will lead to his father’s beating him, keeping him out of school while he healed, and then sending him to a new school. Sacre goes from feeling smug to feeling ashamed. He now understands that the bully hasn’t been held back for being stupid but because of missing so much school due to injuries inflicted by his father. He wonders now if he would have behaved differently had he known this about his adversary.

Sacre then urges us all to appreciate the power of story – learning others’ and telling our own. Storytelling might not save the work but it might help us begin to find some kind of solution.
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REFLECTIONS &  DISCUSSION QUESTIONS ABOUT
Faster than Sooner

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  • Sacre describes how surprised he was to learn about the history and culture of many Latin American countries, but especially Mexico. What have you learned about another country or culture that surprised you or made you think differently? How might you do more of that learning?
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  • While telling stories in front of a school, Sacre sees that some students seem uninvolved. He realizes that their first language is probably Spanish, so he begins to tell the story in Spanish and English. This leads all the students to be engaged and excited, translating for another and listening intently to the story. How did you experience the moments in the story when Sacre switched back and forth between English and Spanish? How do you think that might affect students’ learning in school? What might be the advantages of fully bilingual education?
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  • Did your opinion of the bully in Sacre’s story change once you learned his story? When have you learned another person’s story that has caused you to change your mind about him or her?
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  • Do you think storytelling can change the world or, at least, help us begin to find some kind of solution? If so, how? How might you listen to others’ stories more? Tell your own? How might we better encourage sharing our authentic stories?


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STORY TRANSCRIPT of Faster Than Sooner
by Storyteller Antonio Sacre

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Note : The transcript below of the video and audio story is not in correct text book English. It is a transcription of the spoken story. There are also a few variations from the spoken word. This text is for your guidance and reference as you start to study and think about this story.

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Note : The transcript below of the video and audio story is not in correct text book English. It is a transcription of the spoken story. There are also a few variations from the spoken word. This text is for your guidance and reference as you start to study and think about this story.

Hello, my name is Antonio Sacre and this is from a larger story called Faster Than Sooner.

In 1990 I decided I was going to be an actor and I moved to Chicago to study at
Northwestern University.  And it was fantastic.  I had a very difficult semester once and the easiest class I could take was a storytelling class. There were no books to read, there was no tests to take, exams to do …  and so I took it. It was just something that was fun, passed the time but I liked it and I found out that if I would tell the stories before a big audition I would feel better.

Now, even though I was comfortable with the fact that I was a Cuban Irish American man like my friend says — a ‘Lepricano’ …  I never really felt quite at home in the acting world. There were times while I was doing auditions and they would say to me “you are too ethnic for this part” and when times I do the other audition they say “you are not too ethnic enough”, I was constantly falling through the cracks.  Maybe I was just a terrible actor, I don’t know, but I started to tell more stories in the neighborhood that I was living in Chicago. I was living in Logan square.

And I was at one of the schools telling stories, telling one of the only stories which I knew at that time which is the tall tale from the American West — Davy Crockett …   And I am telling the story to 300 3rd graders and I’m noticing that its going pretty well except that off to the right there’s a class of maybe 50 kids they don’t seem to be paying attention at all. I wonder what’s going on.  I look.  And at the back of my head I think, maybe they understand Spanish better than English and since I think in both languages anyway.

I switch the Davey Crockett story into Spanish. And as soon as I did those 50 kids their eyes got big. They were so excited to be hearing their language from the stage and I was so into the story that I just started telling the story in Spanish to them, but then the English speaking children why you speak English here, oh yeah then I switch back to English, but the Spanish children …Spanish … I switch into Spanish and soon I am telling the story simultaneously in English and Spanish. Davey Crockett said ..Spanish … and the kids started laughing together and I tell one part in Spanish, these kids translate it to English speaking kids and I do another part in English and they translate for Spanish speaking kids.  And it was for me one of the most exciting and fun performances I ever had. It’s usually one all Spanish — and all but to do both at the same time, the principal recognized it.

And she came running down to me and she said “that was amazing, you know how many schools in Chicago needs somebody like you?” I said “no, I don’t” she said “a lot” and she actually wrote out the names and numbers of the principals I had to talk to and she told me how much money I could charge which was more than the money I was making as a waiter at that time, so by default and by accident and also because it was fun I became almost overnight a professional bi-lingual story teller. Which was hard because I knew only that one story you know.

So I began to study much of other stories because I was living in Chicago was a lot of people from Mexico and Puerto Rico at that time, so I began studying those cultures and I ended up travelling to Mexico and I ended up finding out things that I never taught ever. I never knew things about Mexico, the fact that there are pyramids there. That are incredibly large and some of them are the largest pyramids in the world. You know as a kid I learned pyramids are in Egypt, but Mexico right here? So close to the United States and I learned all the rich history and culture and the clash between the Indian and the native population in Mexico and Spanish, all the other cultures that came to Mexico and all the different states.. it was incredible.

I have learned one just small example — the Day of the Dead celebrations that the Mexicans have the beautiful honoring of the ancestors that happens on the same time when Halloween happens, and it’s interesting to see how the Day of the Dead celebration is coming up for us, and we are learning how to honor our ancestors from this culture right or not , but its part of our country for sure so this is what is all happening while I was becoming a story teller.

I like the money, I like the finding about all the cultures, I love that I was broad in my mind view and one day I was telling stories in this school and I never forget this, teacher came up to me .. He was this granola dude …he was in Birkenstocks..He said You were great man …  It’s cool to hear about Mexico.. yeah , you know. I started to talk like him you know, yeah whats up…he said “storytelling can save the world” ….  I’m like rock on dude …yeah. I’m totally want to goof on this guy want to go and tell all my friends about this crazy volunteer and I am thinking story telling can save the world??

Then I thought about it..the power of knowing somebody else’s story and then it reminded me of the time when I was in 4th grade. We had a class bully, his name was Larry Sergeant . He was three years older than everybody else because he is held back because how stupid he was we all said you know and he would beat up all of us you know.

One day he just came around and started beating up on Binkey Meyer, he was youngest in all of our class; because he was so smart he was promoted. There was Larry 4 years older than Binkey, five feet taller it seems giant beaten up Binkey and now I decided to do something about it. I stepped in between the two and tell Larry, “Larry you should pick on someone your own size”. Now I thought he would go finding the 7th graders because he was as big as 7th grader, but no. Larry with a pea brain decided to pick on me, I very shorter than him anyway; we started fighting it was terrible.

We ended up getting separated by the teachers and we both got major detentions, but I fell a little bit like a hero for sticking up for Binkey, but still you know it was just a bad situation. And while we were sitting in there, I saw Larry has started to cry and I couldn’t wait to tell the playground the next day that Larry was such a cry baby and I was going to make sure … but then he started heaving, sobbing it was awkward for my age you know may be eight or nine years old in the 4th grade. I am like what’s the matter? It’s not a big deal, it’s just a detention. He said “no, this is my third detention which means I going to get expelled”.

I am like “yeah yeah…I get the school bully kicked out, they ride me around the playground the next day you know. But he started cry even harder, I said “wat’s the big deal” he said” now I’m gonna go home and my dad gonna beat me”. At 4th grade I didn’t even understand what he is talking, you get grounded you get in big trouble. “No my dad will beat me, he’ll keep me out of school until my bruises heal and put me in another school, that’s why I have been held back all these years”.

And at that moment I was so ashamed to have been the one to pick a fight with Larry… to have stepped in the fight and ashamed to send him home for another beating by his father and if I had known his story… maybe you know… honestly now, I don’t know anything would have been different about it, maybe Larry can be just kicked out anyway.

But I know, if I had known his story I would have acted differently that day. I don’t know if knowing someone else’s story can save the world …  but I know that there is great power in that. I think the more that we can learn each other’s stories and have the courage to tell our own stories … the more that we can begin to find some sort of solution.

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©2010 RaceBridges For Schools.  This lesson plan is part of an initiative for educators called RaceBridges For Schools. It is a project that  seeks to provide free tools for teachers and students to motivate them to build stronger and more inclusive communities. This guide  may be freely used, reproduced and distributed for educational purposes as long as this copyright information is displayed intact.  The video and audio excerpts and transcript included in this unit is copyrighted by Antonio Sacre.  Used with permission. www.antoniosacre.com
Info: www.racebridgesforschools.com