Author Archives: Adam Woodnutt

Casa del Prado Cinderella

Informant: Joshua is a 24-year-old student living in Southern California. He formerly lived in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles. He used to work at the Casa del Prado, a prominent theater in San Diego. Notably, the Casa del Prado is attached to a tall clock tower.

Main Piece:
Josh: “Supposedly, at the Casa del Prado, they were putting on a performance of Cinderella. The lead actress went missing one night and they were looking all around for her. Apparently, over by the clock tower, when the clock hit 7, people saw her body fall from the tower and hit the ground.”

Interviewer: How did she fall?

Josh: “Well, nobody knows, but according to some people, it looked like she was pushed out by somebody.”

Interviewer: And there was no sign of who pushed her?

Josh: “That’s just it. The doors to the clock tower were all locked. She shouldn’t have even been able to get up there. Nobody came out of the tower after, but some people said that occasionally you could see her ghost backstage.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant was told this story as a teenager while working as an actor at the Casa del Prado. It was his first show and the piece was performed to him by the stage manager.

Context of Performance: The piece was performed backstage in the dark.

Thoughts: This story almost seems to be part of a hazing experience. The informant was young at the time and just started acting at the Casa del Prado. The stage manager could have intended to scare him as part of his induction into the group of people working at the theater.

Bridge Devil

Informant: Liz is a 24-year-old student born and raised in Southern California. Her mother is from a town near Guadalajara, Mexico.

Main Piece: “When I was maybe like…8 or 10, my mom, she shared with my sister and I, she shared that at the ranch where her grandmother lived, there was a bridge nearby. But sometimes at night, when you went to cross the bridge, the devil would appear. And he had the…head of a pig, legs of a rooster, and some other part of a goat. He would ask questions and try to hurt you. Now, she never saw the devil, but she had a friend who did. And the friend was lucky because she got away before the devil got to her.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant was deeply affected by this piece as a child. She was afraid of leaving the house after dark, even though she did not live near the bridge in Guadalajara.

Context of Performance: This piece was performed by the informant’s mother when her children were acting irresponsibly.

Thoughts: I find it interesting how similar this piece is to stories about bridge trolls, especially given that the devil would ask questions.

White Spot in Hair

Informant: Joshua is a 24-year-old student living in Southern California. His father is from the Philippines and moved to California before Joshua was born.

Main Piece:

Josh: “My sister, underneath the brown of her hair, has a spot of white about the size of a quarter. And so the thing is, when you are born and somebody else dies, the white spot is where the dead person touched your hair and it died with them”

Interviewer: Is it an omen for anything? Is the baby cursed?

Josh: “I don’t think so, although my sister might be cursed. He laughs. I think it just changes the hair, though.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant was told this by his father when he was younger. His father had noticed the white spot in his sister’s hair and pointed it out. When she asked why it was that way, this was his explanation.

Context of Performance: This piece was performed when trying to explain a white spot of hair to a child.

Thoughts: For me, this piece almost seems like a scary story, since it involves the dead. However, since nothing bad happens to the child, it’s less scary. This might be due to a difference in the perception of death.


中秋节 (Mid-Autumn Festival)

Informant: Hannah is an 18-year-old student, born and raised in China before moving to Los Angeles for college. Her parents now live in Japan, but they return to China to visit family during the summer.

Main Piece: “For the Mid-Autumn Festival, we all eat mooncakes and stare at the moon and think of our family. The circle, like the full circle, symbolizes wholeness. When you’re staring at the moon, you’re all thinking about the same moon, so you can send your love to each other.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant still performs this tradition, even though she now lives in the US. She considers it important since she lives so far away from her family. She learned it from her parents and grandparents when living in China.

Context of Performance: The festival occurs in the middle of autumn on the lunar calendar, around late September to early October.

Thoughts: This festival reminds me of other harvest festivals around the world, such as Holi or Thanksgiving, in which the intent is to promote togetherness.

Papaya Leaves for Jellyfish Stings

Informant: Uluwehi is a 21-year-old student from Hawaiʻi. She is from the island of Oʻahu.

Main Piece: “So, a good medicine is that if you get stung by a jellyfish, you should crush up papaya leaves and use that on the sting. I know they do it in the Molokaʻi races since it’s not good to bring in chemicals, and also they just generally do it.”

Background Information about the Performance: The informant learned about this medicine while researching Hawaiian medicines. She uses it if she can when she or somebody she knows gets stung.

Context of Performance: The medicine is given to sufferers of jellyfish stings.

Thoughts: Doing further research, I found that papaya leaves contain papain, a chemical that has some use for pain and inflammation relief. Although no sting-related medicines have been made from it, the leaves could offer some pain relief from the sting as a result. I also think it is noteworthy that the papaya is not native to Hawaiʻi and yet it is still part of their folk belief.