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FAMILY | FOR THE KIDS

Traveling Folk Act

Trio will bring its high-energy 'Fish Tales' performances to four Valley libraries.

July 30, 1998|RICHARD KAHLENBERG | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Parents interested in introducing young children to live theater should consider taking them to see "Fish Tales," which will be staged at four Valley branches of the Los Angeles Public Library.

It's a high-energy production, and the touring company "Act!vated Storytellers" is actually a trio, whose one member is only 7 years old. The one-hour show, which dramatizes folk tales about fish, is a mix of slapstick, gymnastics, circus, contortions and drama.

"We put the emphasis on the 'Act!vated' part of our name, more so than the 'Storyteller,' " says Dennis Goza, a member of the Burbank-based troupe and the show's scriptwriter.

He's also the father of the youngster performer, Zephyr, and husband of the third member, Kimberly, the boy's mom and also a trained gymnast and contortionist--which helps when she plays a mermaid in Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid.")

"Zephyr began training as a gymnast last year, and took to it like a duck to water," his dad said.

This summer's performances take place in front of an elaborate portable set, built by the family to look like a giant storybook. The set will be relocated to a different branch of the Los Angeles Public Library and nearby libraries almost every day until Sept. 24.

The family has toured 36 states. In the middle of this month alone they made appearances as far away as Tukwila and Olympia, Wash., plus Sausalito and San Francisco.

Brian and Kimberly Goza were a singer and a gymnast, respectively, when they met, so they are accustomed to this hectic existence. But what does their son, who was born a year after the pair took their show on the road, think about the lifestyle?

He wants to be an actor. "When I was 3 my parents couldn't keep me off the stage," says Zephyr, who maybe should have been named Hurricane. He worked his way into performing by first appropriating the job of troupe prompter. "I made sure they got [their lines] word for word," the youth said.

"He did that [prompting] quite a bit," his dad added. "I write the scripts for the shows, but he remembers them better than I do."

Currently being home-schooled because the family travels so much, Zephyr taught himself to read at 3 by noting repetitive patterns in the road signs and billboards passing the family's mobile camper.

Lately, Zephyr has picked up a bug in addition to the acting one--that comes from visiting libraries. He says he's begun writing a book and has a title: "Jack and the Beans Talk". At the rate Zephyr is going, the book may soon be a major motion picture.

BE THERE

"Fish Tales"--Fables and folklore dramatized by "Act!vated Storytellers National Touring Company." Free, 3:30 p.m. today at North Hollywood Branch Library, 5211 Tujunga Ave.; 3:30 Friday at Sun Valley Library, 7935 Vineland Ave.; 11 a.m. Aug. 8 at Platte Branch Library, Woodland Hills, 23600 Victory Blvd.; 1 p.m. Aug. 8 at Encino-Tarzana Branch, 18231 Ventura Blvd. For information on library performances, call (213) 228-7480 or (800) 429-6576.

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