Four years ago, when Story Squad first began keeping track of the performances we offered, we counted 6 different venues. This year we had 25! Two of those were weekly performances at area schools (Estes Hills Elementary School in Chapel Hill and Clue Boulevard Humanities Magnet in Durham), where we did multiple performances in 1st grade classrooms each week.
So, we just did the math, and the result is that Story Squad gave 189 storytelling performances from August 2014 to July 2015.
We’re deeply proud of that number and the growth it represents, as we feel it shows the value people see in storytelling as a way to literacy and enchantment….and, of course, it’s fun, too!
We just finished our first multiple-library tour of Johnston County libraries yesterday, with visits to the Selma Public Library, then on to the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield, The Princeton Public Library (housed within the Princeton High School), and finally to the Kenly Public Library. We had a wonderful time sharing world folktales at each of these Story Stops and want to thank Emily Childress-Campbell, the Head of Youth Services at the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield, for organizing our first “tour.”
Find out by seeing 1st grade children’s reactions in the montage below:
We shared stories with the “Camp Kids” today, telling them folktales from Mexico (Senor Coyote and the Dogs), Israel (It Could Always Be Worse) and Africa (Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock). We all had a great time, and the kids were able to get out of the 98-degree heat, cool off, and enjoy some “armchair traveling.”
What happens when you mix together in a park setting, authors, performers, books, workshops, and biblio-enthusiasts? Durham’s Read Local Festival! What a marvelous idea! Story Squad joined in the “celebrity reads” section of the festival to share a folktale from Indonesia. Why storytelling at a reading festival? Because, as our tagline states, “reading begins with hearing”! And what better things to hear than stories that have withstood the test of time…LOTS of time. The particular story we shared was about a stonecutter who wishes to be the most powerful thing in the world. With a series of wishes, he transforms from his humble stonecutter status to become the king, the sun, the clouds, the wind, and a mountain, but each time he finds something that is stronger than himself. As the mountain, he finds the stonecutter carving rocks from his base, and so his final wish is to return to the strongest thing he could ever be…himself!
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the McKimmon Center for Extension and Lifelong Learning at NC State University brought in storytellers Sarah Beth Nelson and Brian Sturm to share personal narrative and folk stories with their adult learners. Sarah Beth told a personal story about being the Matron of Honor at her sister’s wedding, and Brian shared the Vietnamese folktale called The Love Crystal about a noblewoman who falls in love with a fisherman and his music (believing him to be a prince in disguise) and realizes, too late, that she actually did love him, too. Other storytellers there were Cynthia Raxter, from Bynum, and Alan Hoal, from Cary.
What a marvelous time we had at the Durham County Storytelling Festival. Story Squad tellers Mark Riddle, Sarah Beth Nelson, Nan Pincus, Amy Sayle, and Brian Sturm shared the stage with Willa Brigham, Ron Jones, Louise Omoto Kessel, Alan Hoal, and Cynthia Raxter, bringing folktales and personal narrative tales to the enjoyment of the assembled group. Thanks to all of the folks at the Durham County Library who made this event possible…it was a fantastic time, and we hope to be part of it in the future as it grows.
We visited Graham, NC and the Mayco Bigelow Community Center this morning to share a workshop on how to find, learn, and perform stories so that they become as enchanting as possible. The audience was children’s librarians attending a summer reading workshop sponsored by the NC State Library (thanks Lori Special for your role in putting this together) and thanks to Michelle Mills for inviting us. Now here’s the story: we arrived at the central library on S. Main Street before our session was to start (luckily) as the workshop was in the Bigelow center when we thought it was in the library. So then the challenge was to get across town within the speed limit (mostly) before our session started at the new location. We almost made it on time, but it just goes to show you that “the best laid plans often go awry”…now what story was that line from? Well, since you asked….
The original is actually from Scottish poet Robert Burns’ poem To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up In Her Nest with the Plough (1785). The original text is: “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/ Gang aft agley.”
What a delightful experience we had today at the Durham Center for Senior Life. The whole building was humming with activity: exercise classes, food, billiards, background live piano music. And in the theater, Story Squad shared folktales from around the globe. We laughed with (and at) Anansi the Spider from Africa, as he tried to outwit Turtle and avoid sharing his food. We chuckled as Wicked John outwitted the Devil and tried to make his way into heaven (unsuccessfully) after he died. The gentle story of the Cracked Little Water Pot touched the listeners with its deep sensitivity to how even the flaws in our natures can be useful. As one listener remarked, “God puts you where you’re needed,” and another echoed this sentiment, “We all have a purpose.” When the time was over, we were asked for “just one more.” We were only too happy to oblige….
Story Squad offered a storytelling workshop for adults at Southwest Regional in Durham last Tuesday. We had a marvelous time sharing stories and talking about the craft and art of storytelling. One participant was interested in how to read aloud from her new picture books, so we addressed the performance techniques for reading aloud as well as storytelling. Another wanted to bring storytelling into her school classroom (BRAVO!), so we explored the value of stories in education. Another was interested in storytelling and branding….so we ran the gamut of possible used of story during our hour-and-a-half together.