Monday, March 08, 2010

Review: A Storytelling House Concert

Storytelling events come in all shapes and sizes. This was a bit more home party.

We had a great time Saturday night at a storytelling house-concert held at the home of Dwight and Sandy Oglesby in Paradise Valley, Arizona, a northern suburb of Phoenix. (In the picture- Sandy is on the right standing next to Liz Warren.)

Sandy had announced the house-concert some months ago, giving people plenty of time to get the event on their calendars. She ended up with about 20 folks (adults, no kids) with many of our familiar friends and a few new additions (in the audience and "on stage") to the storytelling community of Arizona.

Sandy put out a nice spread of cheese, fruit, dips, breads, crackers and other snacks served along with a selection of wines, juices, teas and coffee. The crowd was casual and talked freely with each other as they snacked on good food. She had a basket at the door for attendees to contribute a few dollars to offset costs.

Leading off the night's storytelling was Harriet Cole. Harriet told her good blend of "parrot folktales" that move along well with her accounts of a life-long dedication to birds of all sorts and sizes that she and her husband keep in their home. Think of the idea of "1001 Arabian Nights" from the parrot's perspective- but it's much more complex than that. I was one of the first folks around here to do this weaving of personal and folktales- so I am always glad to hear someone else do this method. Harriet had previously told these "for adults" parrot tales at one of our StoryRise events and I enjoyed hearing how the crafting of the tales has progressed.

Harriet was followed by Annie Gustafson who is new to the storytelling scene in Arizona. Annie told a tale about the origins of how she and her brother were named. Since coming to Arizona, Annie has dived right into telling and exploring storytelling. She's also working hard to create a spoken word/storytelling show on our local RadioPHX community radio station. We are very fortunate to have Annie working among us.

We took a short break for refilling of plates and emptying of bladders. After all, some wine was involved, and as the Merovingian from "The Matrix" films can attest, there is a cause and effect. How's that for being direct with an obscure reference?

We were back to the stories with Liz Warren. Liz began with a very funny tale of trying to decipher the writing of a friend's note on her (recent) birthday card. Then, she told her tale of a family party and the powerful effects of good food, stories and family love that she calls "Eating Memories."

I've noticed a change in storytelling from Liz in the last year. She's always been a good teller, but there seems to be a brand-new comfort level in her telling. Although I am familiar with her story, tonight I found myself thinking, "I am hearing this for the first time." I experience a lot of stories and storytellers from my perch at, so I don't easily get "lost" (in a good way) in the work of other tellers. With both this telling and her recent appearance at StoryRise- I think Liz has stepped up to a whole new level of both grace and professionalism. She is also the director of the Storytelling Institute at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix.

After Liz came Sule Greg Wilson. I have been hearing great things about this musician and performer so it was good to finally experience his work. He journeyed us through a set of tales of movies and film, leading up to a story about the homeless that had a surprise twist. When a teller can surprise you with an ending that you just did not predict, then you know they have a gift. Sule is not new to performing and I am looking forward to hearing more from him as he continues to explore storytelling with our community.

To my surprise, Sandy asked me to tell. I had planned to be just a part of the audience tonight, but she called me forward. "Hmm, what to tell?" Annie's early story about her name led me to think about my children's' names. One of my daughters has "Rose" in her name- which we jokingly tell her comes from the Disney movie of "Sleeping Beauty." So I dusted off my take on "Briar Rose" from my "Seven Ravens" CD, discovering a new opening sequence about the "queen's tears" emerging as I told it. I realized that I still wanted to fix the ending. I realized this as I was ending the story- so I hope that was not too distracting. For a surprise telling, I think I was coherent at least.

Our super-host Sandy then recounted a story from Maya Angelou's new book, Letter to My Daughter before we took an intermission with a reset of the food table into the dessert table. Following that little sugar feast, Sandy concluded the night with a risqué tale of what happens when you let the wife do all the work and not have any of the fun. I'll just leave it at that. Sandy's' fun and conversational style reminded us all why she's been a "featured teller" at the Mesa Storytelling Festival.

We had a great night with a variety of adults stories from folktales to personal tales. Thanks to Sandy and Dwight for opening up their home for this experience. I'm looking forward to the next one. Maybe you should try on in your area?

This is the official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

1 comment:

  1. Sean - thank you so much for this review of the evening. And especially for speaking of both grace and professionalism in connection to me. I strive for both!