8/22/2007

Storyteller and His Frog

Storyteller and librarian Jane Dorfman invited me to come as a guest teller to the graduate storytelling class she is teaching at the University of Maryland . Fun!

"I would really like you to tell folktales and since none of the other guest tellers have told personal stories - - it would be good it you told one of your personal stories as well." Ok!

One of the ways I keep focused is to relate what I do today to what is coming up - so - I settled on The Wedding Dress, as the personal story. Saturday I will be telling that on Fairfax Va Public Cable. This would be an opportunity to rehearse with a live audience. For the Folktales I selected "All Things Are Connected" and "The Maiden in Green" as examples of tales I use for environmental stories when I am telling in schools for the Audubon and "Lazy Jack", just because I like telling Jack Tales. After that I would see how the time was going and what felt right.

Once I found the right lot and parked my car I set out on foot. UMD is a big campus and going there always involves exercise. Walking from the parking lot to the library, I cut across on a brick path in front of the Student Union to save a few steps. It was a good move.

Ahead I saw a bronze frog sitting on the back of a bench with a bronze man sitting nearby looking toward him, smiling.
I recognized Kermit the Frog, before I realized the male figure was Jim Henson. The class of 1998 gave this memorial statue dedicated to UMD Alum Jim Henson as their graduation gift to the university. The site is unexpected, friendly and inviting - like Henson's work and characters. I walked on smiling. A memorial to a storyteller - "awesome".

Telling for Jane's class was a joy. The students were open, eager, welcoming, and willing to chime in enthusiastically with "their parts" when I asked for it. All that encouraged me to take a risk with a couple of new personal stories. "I am working on a new story using several incidents that happened this past year. I would like to tell them and then ask for your feed-back." They looked curious. "Its a way of developing a story when you are using personal experience."

I told the two short incidents - that I intend to weave together into a longer piece. Then asked the class, "is there anything more you would like to know about the story than I have told you?" I explained that their questions would tell me where I needed to add details or clarify the story.

They had really listened because their comments were on target and very helpful. The questions clarified several areas that need more detail and another that must be explained. Then I told The Wedding Dress, a well-polished story that people enjoy.

Driving home I was feeling good - happy about the whole thing - until - I got lost.

But that's another story.

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