Friday, April 11, 2008

Tales and telling

This time last week I was getting ready to pick up my son from school and my wife at work to travel two hours down to Nashua, NH. Why? To tell tales at Sharing The Fire, the New England storytelling conference presented by the League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling.
Last year I was asked to m.c. the Friday Night Opening Concert (after I turned down the chance to tell) which was wonderful. I was blessed to be sharing the stage and introducing such talent. This year I was asked to tell and this time accepted! To be the first on the stage after various announcements and welcome notes was inspiring and a little frightening. Peter Brodeur's introduction (he got back at me for my introduction of him last year!) was very welcome and helped me onto the stage. It is not the number of faces out there looking at you, I have done that sized audience and larger before - it was the fact that many in the audience were my peers and many of them out there were tellers I have a great deal of admiration for. I am happy to say that it went well. I had been rehearsing the story for a while, and although I had told the tale many times before, was going to try a new delivery of it.
At one moment in the story (The Story Untold, Song Unsung) the couple have an argument and the wife tells the husband to leave. Usually, when telling the tale, the argument is fairly strong, and they shout at each other at the end. This time the argument was played down and when the wife speaks, she does so in a very quiet way. There was a gasp in the sea of faces and I knew it had worked. The story was given much more power and strength in it being quieter; the impact had been made stronger through the gentleness of the delivery. It is amazing how such a small difference can make.
The other tellers were remarkable. I got to see tellers I had met before but had never heard perform. I got to see seasoned tellers on the stage with me. What a great feeling. Unfortunately I had to leave as me and my family were driving to Central New York to visit with relatives. My seven year old son, and my almost three year old daughter were both very tired (two hours after their normal bedtime) and we had a five hour trip in front of us. Many people came up afterwards as I rushed out of the door and to them I say thanks - thanks for listening and for hearing the story and for taking time to say the things you said. Thanks to my wife Sarah, who ended up sitting in the foyer of the hotel with our daughter for well over an hour so Perry would not disturb any of the other tellers telling. Sarah is a saint.

On another note, the CD is all but finished. Steve Blanchand and I now need to do the final tweeking - making sure the stories are all the same level, and Rob is finishing the artwork. Promised for next weekend. All very exciting.

Keeping listening and hearing the stories out there.