Posts filed under ‘storytelling’
Michele Braniff, 2014 Artist in Residence for Cambridge Centre for the Arts, getting ready for World Storytelling Day concert. She is combining art and storytelling in her program for this year.
March has been such a full month of storytelling. First we had Stories Aloud at the Button Factory in Waterloo, hosted by Baden Storytellers’ Guild, of which I am a member. Our guest teller was Bruce Carmody a retired educator who I suspect has always been somewhat of a storyteller. He shared two stories that evening, one being memories of the year he wished for skates.
He’s such a warm teller, connecting quickly with his audience. I had occasion to talk with him during our break. He’d given a concert the year before at Waterloo Region Museum, and his website shows that he has much to offer, including stories of historical interest.
Midmonth our guild hosted a concert for World Storytelling Day, on the theme of Dragons and Monsters. The event, held at Waterloo Region Museum, featured members of the Baden Guild and Celia Barker Lottridge as our guest teller. Celia is a founding member of the Toronto School of Storytelling and is also a prolific author of children’s books and resources for the storyteller.
StorySave is project of Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada. According to their website, “The project’s aim is to record the voices of elders from the Canadian storytelling community for distribution via web site and CD.” This year, many of Celia’s stories will be preserved. Our guild decided that proceeds from our concert would go towards that project. Our concert, on Sunday March 16th, was a resounding success.
Ticket sellers, Mary-Eileen McClear and I awaiting our audience members. Guild member Michele Braniff, a teller for the concert, arranging brochures for her upcoming events in Cambridge. Photo credit, L. Wilker
Celia’s books for sale on our Guild display table
Celia Barker Lottridge; Photo credit: Peter B., husband of our guild member, Anne.
Mary McCullum-Baldasaro, a member of our guild, telling her story at the concert. Photo credit: Peter B.
As if that were not sufficient stories for the month, my husband and I attended an afternoon of storytelling, March 30, of the Toronto Storytelling Festival at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto.
Two members of the Baden Storytelling Guild, Judy Caulfield and Mary McCullum-Baldasaro, were performing a set together. Family Matters consisted of women’s stories from family ancestry. The storytellers delivered a rich and well-timed set about two very different women in Canada. It was well crafted with musical cues for the next section of the women’s stories.
Mary and Judy, ready for their part in the Festival, in the Art Bar
As we intended, my husband and I stayed for the afternoon of stories for adults, hearing such other tellers as Maria Ordonez, Maryaleen Trafford, Ruth Danziger in Stories that Fly; and Pat Bisset and the Three Fisherman of Toronto. Ana Kerz delivered a stunning and well-crafted story, Gladiola, about school days and a certain student in her class. We also heard stories from Alice Kane by Bob Sherman and High Cotton. Closing the afternoon of stories were Goldie Spencer and June Brown, with life stories about life on the wrong side of the tracks in Cornwall and learning to skip in Val d’Or.
Our food may have been light that day, having left home before lunch to make it there in time, but we were fed richly by the stories that took us many places and entertained us too. May stories do that for you as well.
The festival continues this Thursday and through the upcoming weekend. Perhaps another year, we’ll get there again. For now, this has been a momentous month of storytelling.
Someone asked last week for earlier notice for events at Cambridge Centre of the Arts. That’s in Cambridge, Ontario, by the way. The 2014 Artist in Residence, Michele Braniff, has planned a combination of storytelling and drawing workshops. I will be interviewing Michele soon, but I thought I’d give a sneak preview of the workshops.
A workshop for storytellers
Last evening at Stories Aloud, my reflection was on stories, what they mean for us, what they do for us as listeners. I recalled my first night participating in the place called the Story Barn in Baden that is now closed. I honour the memory of that place and Mary-Eileen McClear who founded it and her husband, Ted Derry, who helped to create that place.
Candles lit on the window frame, books of stories lined the shelves, lights turned down so we focus on the teller and the story. Ah, and there was an old pump organ or piano (trying to remember which it was); it’s been gone awhile. It must have been quite an operation to get it up those stairs. I understand, too, that Mary-Eileen and Ted’s family hosted Christmas up there. Another operation, but likely a pleasant one. Carpet on the floor, various styles of wooden chairs with an even greater variety of cushions on them for comfortable sitting. There was a lazyboy chair too that a certain listener would choose each month. The stories put him to sleep every First Friday of the month. A pot-bellied stove that took time to get a fire going, much different that flicking a switch to start a furnace, but warmed our hot apple cider.
I remembered my first night there and how I went home with stories in my head. Stories told from the heart. It was a warm and welcoming place, the tone set by the one who set the place in motion. It was a forgiving place too. If a teller lost the way in a story, there was usually someone who could help the teller get back on track. The place became a character in a bigger scene of storytelling. People learned about the Story Barn and came to experience it, came back again and again—like me.
Stories carried me home. Well, my car did, but it seemed as though the stories had a part.
Here’s a snippet of what I shared last evening:
A story starts with a “What if…?” question. There could be a thousand “What if’s” but this is the question that began the poem: What if a story barn is turned into a workshop for a woodworker?
We gather to tell, to hear stories, like a cloak that keeps us warm, protects us from the night. They remind us; they take us on adventure and bring us back again.
Guess I’m a little lonesome for that place. It’s now a workshop for Ted, a place to create things from wood, a storyteller in a different form. And I wonder if he remembers a lot of stories told there as he creates new things in that place.