Adventure Theater , the oldest young audience theater in the Washington area, opened their newly renovated theatre today with a delightful production of "The Secret Garden". The production is very high quality from the acting and staging to the beautiful costumes, amusing puppets and handsome stage set. Parents and kids and this storyteller were enthralled.
To enhance the opening day they included craft activites and storytelling between performances. I am happy to say they invited me to be their storyteller. It was great fun - with wonderful family audiences who listened, participated and really enjoyed the stories. After one set a small girl, about four, ran down from the audience, straight for me with her arms stretched out to give me a hug. "Thank you" she said. I was the one who was grateful.
Their new amphitheater style auditorium gives a storyteller a wonderful stage , formal, yet close to the audience. It's a winning venue for storytelling.
This week I have told stories for several elder audiences and for large school groups. The variety of ages is a challenge and keeps me on my toes.
Andrea Hull and I taught our book and storytelling class at Pyramid for high school students. The students had a great time making papere in the paper mill with Andrea. They loved getting their hands deep into the water and lifting out a screen of wet pulp which will dry into their own paper for their books.
For the story segments I made a booklet of short "aesop" like stories from around the world. In small groups the students selected a story, read, it and then told it several time to the group. They practiced eye-contact and careful listening skills and then gave each other positive feed-back. Once they relaxed into the exercises and decided to really work with it they did a great job, telling the stories in their own words, and adding a new twist in some instances. Positive feed-back really enlivened the group as they gave and received appreciations. It was lovely to watch their enteractions during this part of the process.
Art is not part of the lives of these students. They are all very bright and dealing with many social and economic challenges which put them "at risk." Things have to have meaning for them in order to catch their attention. When I explained that storytelling could help them develop communication skills necessary for job interviews and that employers would value a person who looked them in the eye and listened to them - the students understood that storytelling is not just for "kids."