Professional Storyteller

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Best Kind of Payday

Yesterday I had the kind of payday that reminds me of one of the reasons I tell stories.  I had a library gig. How could that be,  you might well ask yourself, when libraries have no money.  Same as schools and museums, and the other tried and true venues providing for the employment of storytellers.  Well, it happened like this.

They had requested a program  around immigration that would inspire the community to investigate and use all the library system has to offer.

 The audience (other than the librarians and a school district representative) consisted entirely of immigrants.  They ranged in age from two to sixty-two. Only about half spoke english.  Some came from  Mexico and Guatemala and a few from Ethiopia.

I adapted some chapters from my young adult novel, "MIDNIGHT and the MAGICAL PRAIRE SCHOONER" for telling, keeping two things in mind" K.I.S.S. and bring lots of props for non-verbal communication.  This planning really paid off.  I was able to keep all but the youngest engaged; the youngest being that two year old. But then you tell me who can keep a two year old engaged when they want a snack and a nap?

 As every storyteller knows there are three essentials to telling a story. Story is supported by the teller and the listener.   You really need all three. But when you consider that perhaps only a third to a half of your story is being understood ... well that's when the props come in handy.

I dusted off my model prairie schooner, packed up my gig bag ... kerosene lamp, talking stick and of course the Rickity-Tickity-Man. Brought the small amp and ipod music to accompany the Rickity-Tickity -Man and went to work looking for engagement.  And I found it!

"The Rickity-Tickity-Man"
We all know that we never tell a story exactly the same way twice.  We also need to be open to the vibe of the moment. Before I knew it my tale addressed issues every immigrant has had to face coming to this country. I harkened back to what I know best abut the immigrant experience; the plight of the Irish coming to America.  Speaking from the heart, making eye-to-eye contact, and letting the story go where it would, I suddenly felt that enviable moment every story teller lives for.  That being when the story takes on a life of it's own.  When something rather magical happens that takes us-- teller and listener-- to a much higher place than anticipated. Most definitely to a higher place than the teller had planned for.

In the end, I felt I had not only empathized,  entertained, and hopefully inspired my listeners, but made a deeper connection.  The best kind of communication connection. From heart to heart. And if that doesn't adequately explain my "payday," well there was the sale of my book to the library. The promise for a return engagement. And  a new program to add to my repertoire. Prior to this experience, I didn't have an  "immigrant experience" in my program listings.  I do now thanks to MLK library and their wonderful committed staff.  And for this Olstoryteller, yesterday's show was a high beyond any monetary or physical experience.

And that's just one of the reasons I tell stories.

'Til next time  ... see you on down the road ... may it rise up to meet you.  Now go out and kiss somebody.
Peace and Grace, Den


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