1/23/2008

Long Day - Story and Art

Another preview from Glimpses. Photo taken on a September afternoon at a quiet, serene monastery outside Avignon, France.


My day was anything but quiet and serene. It started very early this morning. I am just now home and winding down and its 10:30 pm.

First a business meeting all morning, then a two hour session with a valued storytelling coach, and ending the day with team teaching an art/storytelling class this evening. Whew! I usually try to schedule so that there is not so much in one day but it happenes. So, I am tired but I feel good. Busy days where I feel positive and productive are exciting.

Why have a storytelling coach? I am preparing for a 90 minute solo program of folktales. I have selected the tales over the past few months by read, read, reading folktales and fairy tales. Now the list is narrowed to eight, long and short tales, which have some thing in common in theme or image. I am tweaking. I made another change to the list yesterday. I have been working on the stories for months - not intently true, but thinking about them and listening to the versions I have recorded on my iPod.

An all folktale program for adults is a new challenge for me. Usually my long programs are made up of family and personal stories. Except for Halloween.

I will take this program to Fresno, CA in March for the Rogue Festival. Since its a "fringe" festival I had thought I would tell stories that are a little racy but I changed my mind. The stories I am telling are interesting, mysterious, fun and difficult. They deal with romance and couple relationships but I will feel comfortabkle telling them for an audience which includes kids, 12 and over. In fact with what kids watch regularly on TV they will probably find these tame on that score. When it came down to it I asked myself, "why would I want to tell a program that I would feel embarrassed telling my older grandchildren." A good question.

Now its time for "feedback" from someone I trust. Someone whose opinion I value. Over time I have worked out a method of "learning" stories by listening to them. I record them onto my iPod and hear them over and over until I know, not the words, but the sequences and the images. Hearing them also suggests wordings. Today, when I told them to my "coach", was my first time of "telling" the stories out loud. He was interested in the stories, "they are different and they all have a certain mystery". He only knew two of the eight before hearing me tell them - and I felt good about that. This is a guy with experience, history, and a long repertoire. He made a few suggestions about how to tailor the final line-up for the program, i.e. type, length, emotional mood, rhythm, "be sure to plan it for variety". He did not solve the problem - he laid it out.

When I told him a quick version of a story I had thought to discard, he found the story interesting and advised me to wait before deciding to eliminate it. He asked me a few pointed questions that led me to see one aspect of the story a little differently. All in the interest of my being able to make the story real for the listener.

I guess you can tell that right now I am reviewing our meeting, thinking about his advice, comments, suggestions. Working on putting it all together. A lot like a painting. At this point with a painting each paint stoke brings you closer to a finish. A false move can also mean disaster and ruin. Careful, careful. Its the same with telling stories.

At the class this evening I tested one of the stories for the group of eighth grade girls. I figured they were old enough for the tale and would be intrigued. They were. Practice, practice, practice. For the next week everytime I tell stories I will be using a story or two from the Feb 3 program. I know each telling will be different.

No predicting how it will all come out.

That's the fun of it.

If you want to hear a folktale - my telling of the Bride of the Lindorm King is still playing on LocalPointtv.com. (go to their site, select performances from the header, then select Speakeasy, my telling is on the 2nd or 3rd page.)

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