Saturday - Two Storytellers

Jon Spelman at Ford's Theater
Bravo performance by Jon Spelman of his new program, Tales from the Lincoln, on stage at Ford's Theater. In this work, a 30- 40 minute story Jon masterfully uses the persona of Leo Tolstory to breathe life into the two dimensional Lincoln school-kids learn about and gives us Lincoln- a real man. By the closing moments of the story Spelman has made Lincoln so real that the audience cares and feels the tragedy when John Wilkes Booth puts the gun close to Lincoln's head and pulls the trigger. The large family audience was mesmerized by the story. A master storyteller at work.

Politics and Prose Author Talk
On our way home Jim and I stopped at Politics and Prose Bookstore for lunch. We stayed for what sounded like an interesting author-talk. Instead it was a storytelling lesson.
A retired journalist talked candidly about his forty year career as a reporter - the subject of his new book. In the 1960s he covered the Civil Rights Movement before he came to Washington for a long stint as an out-of-town bureau chief.
Oh, if only he was a Spelman-like storyteller.
He missed on telling us the stories that would have transported us to another time and powerful moment in American History.
He was in Selma, Alabama and marched with Martin Luther King. In Selma a black family took him in and gave him a room and fed him. He sat with them in their living room watching Lyndon Johnson announce that he would support the Voting Rights Act. The son was calling out AMEN and the woman was weeping. Marching in the rain a 14 year old Black kid walked beside him shielding his notebook with his cap, "don't let the words get wet."

After a deep breath he switched the subject to his days in Washington covering Congress, his days on the Ridgewell's Catering circuit. Frankly - who cares.

The storytelling lesson? How many times do we miss what's the real story?

1 comment:

Granny Sue said...

Good point, Ellouise. I remember listening to an author talking about her book about WV's state parks. She missed telling us the stories, instead reading from her book for long periods until the audience was completely restless. Authors love their writing, but many of us who listen prefer to hear their story. We can read the book later.