"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Story Reunion: Meeting Old Tales as New Friends

Perhaps you have a story that you used to tell that has gone dusty. Perhaps you want to put new life into a story you tell over and over again. Regardless of the reason, you may be in need of a story reunion.

Taking the first steps toward a story reunion could be awkward, as it was when I attended my 10-year high school reunion. The relationship with the story has been unattended to and you are unsure as to the first words to say out of your mouth to tell it.

To get reacquainted, here are some ideas:
1. Tell the story backwards or out of order
2. Focus on the characters and their profiles
3. Draw a map of the setting
4. Create a backstory

Tell the story backwards or out of order
At a reunion, usually you share what you are up to currently and then work backwards to the time you knew your classmate in high school. Sometimes the same principle is needed for a story you haven't told for awhile.

Many national storytellers--from David Novak to Nancy Donoval--have suggested to shake up the order of telling a story. If the only types of stories you have told are chronological, then be prepared for an adventure of using flashbacks, premonitions, time travel or anything else that may inspire a new way of telling.

Focus on the characters and their profiles
Before I went to my reunion, I opened the yearbook and studied the pictures of my classmates. Perhaps I would have been more successful if I dedicated a piece of paper for each person so as to brainstorm any details or moments related to that person. This is one way how national storyteller Donald Davis is inspired.

A story that you tell probably will not need as many pieces of paper as if you were doing it for your graduating class. Looseleaf paper you can place in a binder is the best as then you can always add pages if the pen runs away from you from remembering so well. When you have squeezed all the information possible from your brain, then you can let the binder sit on a shelf until you are ready to add more.

Whether the characters in your story are real or make-believe, you can also list on the paper answers to questions often asked during an interview. If one of the story characters happen to be you, then you could pretend that a double of you walked into the room so that you can interview yourself. As for a family member or friend, then invite that person over for a fun get together.

For make-believe characters or perhaps characters who have passed on, then ask what your character would be like if you met them in-person. Pretend the person is in the same room with you.

Some questions you can "ask" your characters:
1. What is a typical day like for you?
2. What are your greatest strengths?
3. How do you think you got your strengths?
4. What are your greatest weaknesses? What bad habits do you have?
5. Who inspired you to be who you are today?
6. What would be a "dream come true" for you?
7. What would be your worst nightmare?
8. Do you have any rituals in the morning? Evening? If so, what are they? Why do you do them?
9. What is your most embarrassing moment?
10. What is your most triumphant moment?

Obviously, there are so many more questions you could ask. You may even explore such things as favorite colors, food, activity, etc. Many--or even none--of these things may not directly come up in the telling of your story, though are you not having more fun with your story? You the storyteller could know secrets about your characters that your audience may never know.

Draw a map of the setting
Many famous authors have at one time drawn a map of the place they plan to share adventures. J.R.R. Tolkien created the image of Middle Earth for The Lord of the Rings. J.K. Rowling took many on a train ride to Hogwarts and other places of the wizarding world in Harry Potter. The story becomes more real when there is a map to get there. The tricks of the author can also be the tricks of the storyteller.

The more elaborate you get, the more that images and adventures come to mind. Add color, labels, and landmarks.

Create a backstory
It would be nearly impossible to understand the background of all your classmates though it is possible to know the background for your story.

With the completion of the character profiles and the map, you may have so many stories coming to mind that a story you thought was dead is now reborn.

When Stars Wars first came out, the backstory was unknown except to George Lucas. We learned that Darth Vader was more human than we first supposed and the great friendship between Obi-wan Kenobi and Anikan Skywalker. Perhaps Star Wars would not have been as successful if Lucas at least at some idea as to the foundations of his story. Who knows? With time, the back story you create may be connected with your current telling of the tale like what happened with Star Wars.

The question to ask now: When will be your next story reunion?

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

Saturday, December 01, 2007

December Tales: From Candle Light to Star Bright

When someone wants you to share stories in December, it may not be so simple as to know what tales to tell. Any kind of story—from winter to Hanukkah to Christmas to Kwanzaa—could be implied.

Sometimes sponsors narrow the field by saying, “I want Christmas stories” or “I want Kwanzaa stories”. Seems like easy requests, right? Wrong!

In the case of Christmas, does this mean stories about Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or does this mean stories of the Christ Child and Mary and Joseph? Does this mean memories associated with Christmas? What about other Christian stories? You will always want to know more than simply “Christmas stories”.

The setting helps figure out what kinds of stories would be most appropriate.

Since public libraries have books on all the December holidays, these places tend to be open to storytelling programs that give equal time to Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. With the United States being mostly Christian, there will also be the libraries where complete programs would be dedicated to Christmas.

Within public schools, there could be tension toward anything religious so often Christmas is reduced to the commercial side of the holiday and without any mention of the baby Jesus. As Hanukkah celebrates a miracle and is not theologically important to the Jews as compared to Passover or Yom Kippur, schools may feel more freedom to discuss Hanukkah in the classroom. Kwanzaa is not based on any type of theology—rather it celebrates the culture of African-Americans.

Private schools have their own rules, especially ones of religious affiliations. They do not have to follow the traditional "separation of Church and State". One Christian elementary school I performed at requested that no Santa Claus-type stories be shared. Christmas memories and spiritual stories were encouraged.

Ironically, for the churches I have performed at, usually Santa Claus is one of the special guests. This opens it up for me to share mostly religious stories with a last story about Santa Claus as he usually arrives after my storytelling concert. There are even stories that combine Santa and the Christ Child so that the theme can run throughout my session.

Corporate settings with diverse workforce usually want to respect all of the December holidays. I told in one building for the company holiday party where the first floor was dedicated to Christmas and the second floor was dedicated to Hanukkah. I was on the third floor where my program gave equal time to the three main December holidays: Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. I would not be surprised if some day there will be another floor dedicated to Kwanzaa.

Care must go into crafting the holiday stories so as to respect either the religion or the culture they are coming from.

When sharing stories about a holiday that the audience may not be familiar with, you may need to tell a quick version of “the Hanukkah story” or “the Christmas story” or “the Kwanzaa story” or at least make references to some of the important symbols and principles celebrated. In many ways, the background of how these holidays came to be is more of your introduction to your program rather than your core repertoire.

I feel most comfortable sharing Christmas stories—whether religious or social ones—as well as combination programs that give equal time to Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. I am not Jewish so I would feel inadequate to share a whole program on Hanukkah just as I am not African-American and I would feel inadequate to share a whole program on Kwanzaa. I would be an “outsider” to their cultures and telling their “insider” stories.

I find Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa as holidays I can completely celebrate and support. Jews tend to encourage people of other faiths to participate in Hanukkah and in Passover. Christmas tends to be celebrated everywhere, especially when out shopping. It seems almost impossible to not celebrate Christmas. As far as I understand, Kwanzaa is also a time that welcomes people of all cultures to share. The seven principles of Kwanzaa—symbolized by the seven candles—are ones that any one can honor.

To discover how you connect with these three holidays, enjoy some online resources below. You will find that many elements overlap.

So light those candles and stare up into the sky . . .there are many reasons to celebrate this December.

Online Resources:

All Three Holidays--

“December Holidays”

Many links to Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa—though not specific to stories, you will get great background and ideas through the sites given.

“In the Spirit of Winter Holidays” from Bare Bones for Storytellers/Story-Lovers

Jackie Baldwin, a professional storyteller, upholds this site so you will get great insight on possible stories to pursue. She always reminds to get permission from any source before you tell.

Hanukkah Resources--

“Hanukkah Resources” from Flint Public Library

This site lists the titles and authors as well as at least a line or two on what each book is about.

“Adopt-A-Book Hanukkah List” from Temple Beth Torah Library

This site lists the titles and authors and even appropriate age level, which could help when determining your audience.

“Hanukkah Stories” from Story-Lovers SOS Story Lists

Jackie Baldwin, a professional storyteller, upholds this site so you will get great insight on possible stories to pursue. She always reminds to get permission from any source before you tell.

“Recommended Reading—Celebrate Hanukkah” from The New York Public Library

This site lists the and authors for each book and divides by “older readers” and “younger readers”.

“Chanukah” from Fayette County Public Schools

Here we find several links that have stories to crafts to background information.

Christmas Resources--

“Christmas Stories” from The Children’s Literature Web Guide

Discover many Christmas stories including several classics and legends.

“Christmas Stories from Around the World” by the Net Rag from Infostarbase.com

This site ranges from religious to social stories on Christmas.

“Christmas Stories” from Joyful Heart Renewal Ministries

Find religious stories--or at least ones geared toward touching/spiritual stories.

“Merry Christmas” by In His Image

This site lists favorite stories that anyone can post. You can even go under “Do You Know This Story?” and either ask how to find a certain story that you have little memory of or perhaps receive help from others in discovering the stories.

“Christmas Stories” from Story-Lovers SOS Story Lists

Jackie Baldwin, a professional storyteller, upholds this site so you will get great insight on possible stories to pursue. She always reminds to get permission from any source before you tell.

Kwanzaa Resources--

Kwanzaa Information Center

Here you find great background information and even some pronunciations of key words.

“Kwanzaa Stories” from Story-Lovers SOS Story Lists

Jackie Baldwin, a professional storyteller, upholds this site so you will get great insight on possible stories to pursue. She always reminds to get permission from any source before you tell.

“Reading about Kwanzaa” from Kansas City Branch of Kansas Public Library

This site provides title, author, synopsis, and even call numbers for each of the books so to be easy to find in the library.

“Kwanzaa” from the site of Eshu Bumpus

Eshu Bumpus, a professional storyteller, shares stories that connect to each of the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

“Kwanzaa, An African-American Cultural Celebration” from Flint Public Library

This site lists the titles and authors as well as at least a line or two on what each book is about.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gracing the Perfect Stage: Ideal Worth Asking For

Before an audience steps into the place to find their seats, there can be an aura that says to all “this is the right place to be”.

Any sponsor of an event wants their audiences entering the doors with smiles and leaving for home with smiles. Sometimes with the rush of planning, storytellers and sponsors do not get a chance to discuss how to make this magic happen.

When I get a call about a gig, I set up an appointment to see the performance area. Not only does this help me mentally prepare for the concert, but I can also make note of any technical issues that need to be resolved. In no way am I trying to be difficult. Most of the time it seems that a sponsor is grateful to hear what could be done to create the ideal setting.

If for some reason I cannot go to the location to see the stage before performance day, I request that the sponsor email me pictures of the intended area. Suddenly I have a virtual tour so that when I stand on that stage, I feel like I am at home.

One of our responsibilities is to educate sponsors on how to create an ideal environment for storytelling.

Here are things to ask about—whether in-person, by telephone, or through email:

1. Distracting noises

2. Position of the doors and other objects

3. Background busyness

4. Schedule to tell in relation to meals or other entertainment

5. Acoustics of room and need of amplification

6. Room temperature

7. Emcee

Distracting noises
Audience members may not only be hearing the words from your mouth. You may be placed near other entertainment venues that host loud music, megaphones, dance groups, or any number of activities. Hopefully the sponsor places you far enough away to respect the magic that you create through your tellings. It is hard to have a dramatic pause without silence.

If you are telling at a school, there may be intercom announcements or bells that could interrupt your stories. Even libraries are not the quietest places as they may have intercom systems, too. Sometimes it is possible for these places to quiet or even turn these distractions off. All you have to do is ask.

Loud heaters or air conditioners could be a problem. Unless the room temperature needs to be fixed, see if these devices can be turned off for the performance.

Position of doors and other objects
The storyteller needs to face the doors so that the audience is unaware of any latecomers that are likely to arrive.

One time I performed at a library with a raised carpet stage with the entrance to the right of me. Though the architecture deemed the stage as the place for me to set up, it would have been better to place my portable backdrop on the opposite side.

If there are windows, I prefer for the shades to be closed so that my audience focuses on me rather than the outside.

At times, there may be objects in the way such as at East Tennessee State University with national storyteller Jon Spelman. Being a classroom, there was a computer/desk fixture bolted to the raised carpet stage. Originally someone had placed chairs in rows across the whole length of the room. We rearranged the chairs and shifted the center of the stage more to the right. We may have had more space on the left, but it was better to add more rows of shorter length than to cause any audience members to have a poor view of the teller.

Background Busyness
Some of the most colorful places I have performed have been in schools. The teachers work so hard to make their classroom exciting for the students. To tell in such places as a storyteller can be tricky due to the busy backgrounds. There needs to be some type of focal point for the audience.

To solve this riddle, I created a portable backdrop, which consisted of two 6’X6’ panels that came together at roughly a 90 degree angle. Sometimes I hung a sparkling gold-lettered sign of “Storyteller” so that I could hear the oohs and aahs from the audience before I even spoke.

Schedule to tell in relation to meals or other entertainment
One time I was asked to tell stories for a church group while they ate. I was too new a teller to realize how dangerous this request would be with the clinking of the utensils and the volunteers clearing plates. I could see the audience but, for some reason, they needed to look at their food. With storytelling being an interactive art form, this lack of eye contact was frustrating.

To add to the craziness, they had me sit on top of a piano. This was not the most comfortable place to tell stories. Perhaps it was the only way for me to be tall enough for the audience to see me. Now I know to give my sponsors an idea of how much room I would like such as having a 6’ by 10’ area.

You may not have to worry about telling through meal times, but you may be competing with other activities. There was a festival that had two stages—one for music groups and one for storytelling. Sometimes the musicians would go over time and could be heard while one of the teller’s told a touching tale. I tried to tune my ears to only hear the teller and sit on the front row.

If at all possible, have the sponsor be aware of the scheduling conflicts. It may not help for the current gig but may improve future tellings at that event.

Acoustics of room and need of amplification
All attendees need to be able to hear the storyteller. With groups of 25 people or more, some sort of sound system is recommended. The sponsor may need to reserve or rent the equipment so be clear about your request.

One time, for a Halloween party, I was asked to tell stories in the gymnasium. With the high ceilings, already I knew the sound would be lost. I asked for a microphone. The organizer shooed the idea and said I would be fine. To make matters worse, I was not placed on stage and there was no announcement that I would share stories. Some kids gathered around me, but as the adults were not asked to be quiet, I had to compete with their chatter. Suffice it to say, I am now quite firm when it comes to sound systems.

Sometimes it is not about the sound system. Sometimes it is about choosing another room, if available. About a year ago I told at a school that had two options—the gymnasium or the music room. I chose the music room as the students could fit without being cramped while having a more intimate feel.

Room Temperature
Indoor venues can sometimes be as hot or as cold as outdoor venues. Once in a while there may be someone who forgets to put on the air conditioning or the heat. This can be a shock for audience members.

If it had to one of the extremes, I would prefer that the room be too cold than too hot. At least with the cold, the audience would be inspired to sit close to each other rather than leaving empty seats between each family or group. Plus, the coolness keeps one less grumpy and more awake. Of course, if the theme is “bedtime stories” then perhaps warmth is a good idea!

By arriving at least 45 minutes to an hour before performing, you have enough time to adjust the temperature.

The emcee has a direct relationship to a successful show. Their time may be brief on stage, but their presence and excitement are felt.

When I go through my questionnaire with the sponsor, I always ask who will be my emcee. I provide an introduction card that the person paraphrases or reads.

If at all possible, I like for my emcees to stay for the whole performance. At certain places they may be understaffed so I understand if they can only introduce me and then excuse themselves. Even so, I remind them that they need to be there for at least a moment to show the audience that they sponsor this performance.

When I lived in Fresno, I told at a museum along with some storytelling friends. No one from the museum introduced us. We did not even have a normal room to perform; it was in the walking area by the paintings. With no official person to organize the event, my friends and I almost felt like we had to chase down our audience. We still had fun, but the event could have touched more of their patrons if only an emcee was provided.

Having the perfect stage is possible, especially when you share with the sponsor that you want to create the best possible experience for everyone involved.

So smile as you step onto that stage. With the mood set, you are ready to do your best.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Losing Your Voice & Finding it for Showtime

Once I was told that my voice would be confiscated. It was said in fun, but the threat is real. The show must still go on for a storyteller.

This tends to be the season that I lose my voice for a day or even a week. Rarely is my voice totally gone, though hoarseness or super-low pitch is common. This is not due to allergies, irritants, sinuses, or acid reflux. The cause: overuse and abuse of the voice.

Sometimes the stories I share involve characters that use raspy, gruff, or high-pitched sounds outside my normal range. My witch and goblin voices are the most taxing on my throat, especially when these two characters make “cameo appearances” in folktales or Halloween stories.

Lessening the thickness of the accent is possible. Every so often I use my witch voice as my narrator voice for 30-minute to even 2 ½-hour sessions. To say that my voice is sore after such strenuous use would be an understatement. I could stop using my witch or goblin voice altogether, but I enjoy these characters too much. However, I have learned that longer gigs means I should let my sponsor know that I could not do my witch voice the whole time as more than 30 minutes could endanger my voice, the key tool for which I make a living as a storyteller.

While at an elementary school, I avoided using 30-minutes nonstop of my witch voice by telling one story as the character followed by a “magic potion” that changed my voice. I took a glass of water and added a red powder (Kool-aid, though it is more fun to say it is ground dragon’s tongue) that turned green when mixed. I fooled around with the audience by having one sip cause a ditsy girl voice, another sip cause an opera voice, and so on until I came to my normal voice. Finally, I completed the rest of the program without straining my voice.

Things to Do—

1. Drink a lot of water

Our bodies are at least 66% composed of water so it is only natural to keep hydrated and soothe the throat. The mouth, throat, vocal chords, and especially the lungs have much higher percentages of water compared to other places in the body. In case the sore throat has bacterial or viral issues, water can clear the germs and remove toxins. You may feel fatigue, dizziness, or fever with your sore throat though water relieves all these symptoms.

2. Warm-up voice

Most people stretch to run a marathon. Telling stories could be considered a marathon for the mouth. Before opening your mouth to talk, breath deep. The more oxygen to the body, the more the blood circulates and heals itself. My favorite is to purposely yawn loudly. If you do it right, you sound like a lion’s roar. Next, you can limber the mouth muscles through chants, tongue twisters, and songs. Even neck rolls and common exercise stretches like “touch your toes” can ultimately affect the voice.

Here are examples—

· Inhale for eight seconds through the nose and exhale for eight seconds out the mouth.

· Smile with exaggeration so that your teeth show. Say “eeeeeeeeeeeee”. Then stick out your lips and say “ooooooooooo”.

· Exaggerate jaw movement when you say, “thaw-daw-thaw-daw-thaw-daw-thaw-daw”.

· Exaggerate lips and jaw when you say, “hoo-hah-hee”.

· Say quickly three times with articulation, “A big black bug bit a big black bear.”

Things to Avoid—

1. Clearing your throat

Be aware of when you clear your throat in the first place. If you do, then you are slamming your vocal folds together in a harmful way. Instead of clearing your throat, take a sip of water or close your mouth and breathe an “h” sound as in “help” followed by a swallow.

2. Speaking in screams or whispers

Any extreme in volume will cause extra strain to your throat muscles. If you are in a loud environment like in an airplane or social gathering, it may be tempting to shout. Do not attempt to overpower the noise above. Perhaps you need to have a microphone or be three feet or closer to whomever you want to address. As for whispers, there are more muscles involved and the more muscles you can rest, the better.

3. Surrounding yourself with irritants

Some gigs may give no choice but to be around irritants such as smoke from a campfire. Attempt to stay away from the smoke’s path. Other high-risk conditions are night, dry, or cold air. Combine all three of those and prepare to feel the consequences. Other irritants could be dust, chemical fumes, or smoke from cigarettes—whether first or second-hand.

4. Talking for long periods of time

For any performance over an hour, discuss with your sponsor the possibilities of breaks for your voice. Five-minute breaks between sessions are better than nothing though 30-minute breaks are ideal. I learned the hard way that 2 ½ hours without breaks is suicide to the vocal chords. My voice was not the same for a week and a half.

After Performance
Things to Do—

1. Drink a lot of water

Especially when you wake up the next day from a performance, your throat will be dry partly because you did not swallow as often asleep than awake. This may seem great because swallowing could be painful with a sore throat, but this also means that you did not create as much saliva to send out more moisture throughout your body.

2. Rest voice and body

Certain healers in your body prefer to work at nighttime. Besides sleep, you may want to think about how often you have “quiet time”. If you like to sing in the shower or talk to yourself in the car (like me), then you may stop these habits until your voice is back to normal.

3. Humidify your room and body

Drinking water is not the only way to get moisture. A hot shower can build up steam for your lungs to enjoy. A humidifier can share the same results. You can even humidify your insides by having the classic chicken soup. If you throw in some garlic in the soup, then you have the added bonus on thinning mucus.

Things to Avoid—

1. Gargling mouthwash, alcohol, or other liquids

Alcohol is a drying agent that reverses the benefits of drinking water. Gargled liquids do not reach your vocal chord area. Rather, your vocal chords will slam together and increase swelling.

2. Drinking or eating caffeine

Besides alcohol, caffeine is a drying agent and takes away the needed moisture to heal. Coffee, some sodas, and chocolate fall in this category.

Home Remedies/Other Options—

1. Lemon Juice/Lemonade

One teaspoon of lemon juice (add little honey if desired) could be slowly sipped once every hour. This concoction takes away the itchiness often felt with sore throats as well as reduces fevers.

2. Honey and Warm Water

You may notice that several home remedies give the option to add honey to the mix. Otherwise, you can simply mix water with about two tablespoons of honey, which soothes the throat and takes the itchiness away. It also reduces fevers, boosts energy, and even fights depression.

3. Ginger

Peel the skin from a ginger root. Slice the root into thin coins and place the ginger in water. Use no more than one ounce of ginger per day. Boil the water and drink (add three tablespoons of honey if desired). This mixture reduces fever, dizziness, and headaches while also recovering your voice.

4. Pomegranate

Boil some pomegranate rinds in water and drink as the rinds have astringents that shrink mucus membranes and allow better breathing. It is bitter to the taste yet effective.

5. Cough Drops or Hard Candy

When you cough, your vocal flaps hit each other at over 70 mph so you can imagine the damage if you do not calm the coughing through medicine or cough drops. Sucking on the cough drops or hard candy creates more saliva, which in turn can thin out mucus and send bacteria-fighting germs throughout your system.

May your voice sound out across the stage.

Sore Throat Health Sources:

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

Monday, October 15, 2007

Scary Stories: Facing Fear When the Lights Go Out

Special thanks to Olympus Chapter members of the Utah Storytelling Guild (left) including quotes from Julie Barnson, Brian J. Fetzer, Suzanne Hudson, Jan C. Smith, and Helen Taylor.

Chilling the bones with scary stories can be a thrill . . .until it is time to go to bed and face the nightmares.

If there is too much fright within a story for certain age groups, a storyteller could confront angry sponsors, teachers or parents. Storyteller Julie Barnson shared, “You can tell scary stories to children as long as you create a safe place for them. Otherwise, you may get moms who call you up and yell, ‘What have you done?’ when their kids come home shaking with fear.” As a caution, storyteller Jan C. Smith said, “Make sure the stories you will share will be okay with whoever hired you.”

So what kind of fears do adults and children share?
Here are a few:

Loss of Control (could be thoughts, actions, urges, etc.)
Loss of Love (could be spouse, family, friends, etc.)
Loss of Health/Strength (could be accidents, illnesses, integrity, etc.)
Loss of Life (could be for yourself, family, friends, pets, etc.)
Loss of Structure (could be organizations, rules, traditions, etc.)

If you were to brainstorm your own fears, you could probably list them in one or more of the above categories. By knowing your own fears from the past to the present, you will already be on your way for telling age-appropriate stories.

Here are some questions to ask:

1. What were you afraid of when you were a kid? What fears do you have now? In what ways, if any, have your fears changed?

2. Why did you have certain fears? Why do you have certain fears now?

3. What kind(s) of nightmares do you have? What sort of embarrassing dreams do you have? What does it feel like to wake up from a nightmare or an embarrassing dream?

4. How do you attempt to forget your fears or nightmares?

After answering the questions, you may want to think about how your potential audience may respond to the types of stories you plan to tell. This may be the first time you have told stories to this group so then it would be guesswork. Think about what violent current events are happening and how your audience may be reacting to these threats such as terrorism, war, school shootings, etc. If it happens to be with a group you have told to before like family or friends, then you may already know that so-and-so is afraid of big dogs, another is afraid of the dark, and so on.

Though nightmares may come regardless of what the storyteller does to try to prevent them, here are some ways to offer comfort when telling scary stories:

1. Remind kids that they are not alone in their fears

2. Encourage kids to seek comfort through people and/or object(s)

3. Know the power of the 5 senses

4. Avoid getting too realistic in the stories unless sponsors want you to cause nightmares

5. End the story session with hope or strength

6. Ask kids what specifically scares them about the stories

Remind kids that they are not alone in their fears
At the beginning and at the end of the performance, you could have audience members look at each other so that they know they are not alone in hearing these scary stories. Perhaps you could have audience members send vibes of courage to each other before walking to their cars.

Encourage kids to seek comfort through people and/or object(s)
Before you delve into the scariness of your stories, let the kids be aware of people, objects, and rituals to calm them. Storyteller Julie Barnson laughingly said, “Before the storytelling starts, the kids are tough. They are not scared. When they still have the courage, I always give them pointers of what they can do to keep away the ghosts and the evil things.”

Most likely, the kids will turn to their parents for comfort after hearing the scary stories. Parents seem to have greater power that could defeat any evil monsters. When parents are not available (or if they refuse for their kids to sleep with them), then kids can find power in objects or talismans like a blankie or a toy. These objects often represent feelings of when they were held or comforted in the past.

Storytellers Julie Barnson and Suzanne Hudson mentioned that they have learned certain tricks to lessen the nightmares through national storytellers like J.J. Reneaux and Kathryn Windham.

The late Reneaux told audiences that evil things are vain to such degree that you must place a mirror outside your bedroom door. The monster will stop to look at itself in the mirror until morning. By this time, the monster will need to hide from the sun’s rays. She also revealed that evil things couldn’t count past 12 so it is best to leave 13 of something outside of your door. The monster will have to count the items, get stuck on what comes after 12, re-count, and get stuck again until morning.

Reneaux and Windham found great power within shoes. You could place your shoes either toe-to-toe or heel-to-heel at the end of your bed. This sets up a perimeter around the bed that is impenetrable as the shoes’ placement discombobulates evilness of all kinds.

Know the power of the 5 senses
A parent giving hugs to a child is one way when there is a connection to the safe/real world and disconnection with the imaginary world. Within a hug combines sight, smell, touch, and sometimes sound (if squeezed hard enough).

Perhaps with the senses in mind, there is a new product called “No Fear Spray”. Some parents already use this idea through a spray bottle filled with water and labeled “Monster Spray”. A storyteller could do the same thing and offer to spray any audience members who may need the extra courage when returning home. Recipients could see, feel, hear and possibly taste their protection.

Avoid getting too realistic in the stories unless sponsors want you to cause nightmares
Adding monsters, ghosts, or witches to a story may actually reduce scariness for some listeners due to the lack of realism. Storyteller and librarian Helen Taylor warned, “The more realistic the scene in the story, the scarier it is for the kids.” Taylor added that you might not know which of the kids have been allowed to watch Freddy Krueger and which ones are new to any gruesomeness. She noted that the presence of a ghost or an alien might not be what is scary. It may be that later on in the story the father gets mad and throws something out the window. The true shivers may come from whatever is more possible to occur.

End the story session with hope or strength
Every story does not have to end happily. Storyteller Brian J. Fetzer could point out how many of the fairy tale Grimm tales actually end in frightful ways. However, if the storyteller has a 30-minute session, then the last story should provide some sort of feeling of peace. Julie Barnson urges storytellers to look at the ending of stories. There may be scary themes within the story, but the ending may suggest that justice has been served for the villains.

Some storytellers prefer to downplay some of the scenes within the story. Jan C. Smith has seen national storyteller Bobby Norfolk perform another version of Hansel and Gretel where there is a scene where the witch kills her own kids in their beds. Norfolk took that scene and, instead of having the kids killed, had pumpkins stabbed under the covers of the beds. This still kept the story dramatic yet took away the heavy-duty emotions behind it. Fetzer added, “You can still get the same point across but not be so violent.”

Humor through jump stories or joke Halloween stories are tools that storyteller Julie Barnson likes best for a mixed-age audience. Regardless of how she pieces her programs she recommended, “You don’t want to end with serious dread.”

Ask kids what specifically scares them about the stories
As an adult, you may find one thing scary in the story that the kids did not even acknowledge. Only when you have a more clear view of what is actually scaring the child can you give some comfort.

As a storyteller, you can linger beyond the story time so to listen to any fears the kids may have. Encourage parents to do the same thing. You might ask questions so to help kids verbalize their fears. Julie Barnson repeatedly said, “Listen to what the kids tell themselves.” She continued to share that when she was three years old, there was a picture of a witch that her mom hung up around Halloween time. Whenever she walked by it, she was scared. If only her mother had know of this fear.

For more inspiration, read “Listening to Fear, Helping Kids Cope, from Nightmares to the Nightly News” by Steven Marans, Ph.D. When immersing into the television or the Internet, the images seen and heard provide enough of a repertoire for scary stories. Marans said, “. . .I wished the world were not so ready to prove that the worst of our children’s nightmares can in fact come true” (p. 2).

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

Monday, October 01, 2007

Storytelling Games: Never too old to Play

Adults seem to shy away from playing storytelling games to improve their skills as storytellers. Yet, a youth storytelling club would suffer if games were not played. (Some games listed at the end.)

During my days at Brigham Young University, our storytelling club meetings almost always included some sort of game. Games are not reserved for the young.

How Games Help Adults/Kids:
1. Spark imaginations
2. Strengthen improvisation skills
3. Gain insight for in-process stories
4. Build leadership and speaking skills
5. Create a chance to laugh

Spark imaginations
How each person interprets the game will be different. With two or more people playing the games, you may experience reactions not guessed on your own.

For example, you may play the game “Carry On” and a person passes an imaginary lizard to you. Your choice could be to pretend to pet it while another person may pretend to eat it. This could trigger thoughts like “what if someone ate a lizard?” or “who would enjoy eating a lizard?” or “what could convince someone to eat a lizard that they would otherwise not ingest?” The questions could be endless. Any ideas triggered by playing a game would be important to store in some way whether by writing it down, recording the idea on a mp3, etc.

Strengthen improvisation skills
Most storytelling games require some sort of improvisation such as adding the next line of the story, acting out images or emotions that other people may throw into the story, reacting to another person’s actions and so on.

When I was in high school, I competed in storytelling through Forensics (public-speaking contests). There was a certain story that I told almost every week. Then, without warning, my mind went blank. I was not about to let the judge know that the plot and ending had escaped me. To this day, I do not remember how I saved the story. Yet, I finished the story with a different ending and received high marks from the judge. Warming up with storytelling games before the performance built my impromptu skills.

National storyteller Ed Stivender is one of the cleverest ones to use spontaneity to his benefit. First, he asks the audience for a well-known fairy tale like Cinderella or Snow White. Then, he asks for a different setting, a bad habit that a main character has, objects, and anything else that makes the story sound crazy. Finally, on the spot, he creates the story. Audience members are able to walk away from the performance knowing that they co-created a humorous masterpiece.

As for national storyteller Olga Loya, she starts a story, pauses, and calls on someone to shout out anything that comes to their mind for the next adventure in the plot. She continues for a moment and then encourages another audience member to add an object or thought. Somehow she is always able to wrap up the story—no matter how silly it is—and bring out a heartwarming lesson.

Storytelling games can be part of the performance itself with amazing results.

Gain insight for in-process stories
Sometimes you get stuck on a story. Maybe you have an idea for the beginning. Maybe you have an idea for a character. Whatever the case, you are stuck and it seems like the story will never come to full fruition.

If this is so, then call up some people to play some storytelling games. Connecting with the local storytelling guild may be best. Otherwise, round up some of the neighborhood kids. You could choose a game that happens to involve the setting, the characters, or the plot of your in-process story. See how the others respond to the situation. You may have 27 different versions by the time you are done playing the game, but at least you have options.

As a writer can get writer’s block by staring at a blank page, so can a storyteller get storyteller’s block by working on a story with an empty mind.

Build leadership and speaking skills
Once you know some storytelling games, then next you need to explain the directions to the participants in clear and expressive ways.

There has been several times when I thought I was clear in explaining the rules of a game. Afterwards, I would see scrunched faces of confusion or sometimes hear the occasional “Huh?” or “What?” Another sign of miscommunication is when no one does anything after announcing, “Go” or “Begin.” Quickly, I have learned that demonstrating a part of the game improves the understanding of how to play for everyone.

Create a chance to laugh
Above all, play storytelling games for amusement. Technically, there are no “mistakes” that can be made during games—only fun, healthy moments.

I say “healthy” for good reason. You have heard, “laughter is the best medicine?” Whenever you think something is funny or when you laugh, there is certain saliva formed in your mouth. Inside this saliva are bacteria-fighting specimens. As you swallow this saliva, you are able to combat illness and reduce stress.

Laughter is also a good form of exercise. Ten minutes of rigorous laughter equals ten minutes of rowing. After playing 30 minutes or so of games, you may have reached a total of ten minutes of laughter so to qualify for your daily workout.

Some Games to Try:

Carry On
Form a circle, ideally with everyone standing up. One person decides on an imaginary object to pass to the person next to them. This “object” is passed from person to person in the circle. Some examples are a stinky sock, a fragile lamp, a bowling ball, and a lizard. When the “object” is passed back to the leader, then choose a different item.

***Variations: Try this same game with or without sounds. Have the leader rotate so several or all people have a chance to suggest something to pass around the circle.

A Big Yarn
Form a circle. Take a ball of yarn and have it wrapped around each person in the circle one time. Everyone will be connected in this way. The person with the end of the yarn becomes the leader and starts the story. While telling the story, the leader takes the yarn and rewraps the yarn until it is passed to the next person. Then the next person picks up the story from where the other one ended. Continue the story until the yarn is all rolled up.

***To help the leader, ask for suggestions of a setting and some characters from everyone. You may also determine certain code words that trigger a response from everyone in the circle. For example, if ever someone telling a story says “food”, all could respond with “mmmmmmmmm, food!” or whatever reaction tickles your fancy.

Set up four chairs with two chairs behind the other two. These chairs represent a car. All four chairs are filled with “passengers”. Determine who is the driver. Everyone in the car talks to each other to reflect a certain emotion already picked out. A fifth person is the hitchhiker. When the hitchhiker sticks out his thumb, the “driver” slams on the brakes (sound effects are encouraged). The driver is bumped out of the car, everybody rotates a chair, and the hitchhiker occupies the remaining open chair. The hitchhiker puts on a different attitude than the other passengers. As the hitchhiker continues the conversation, the other passengers reflect their speech of whatever emotion the hitchhiker is doing. Eventually, another hitchhiker comes along and sticks out his thumb. The rotation continues.

***Some emotions that may be fun to do: surprise, grumpiness, exuberance, sorrow, etc. This could also be a chance to improve vocabulary. An extra rule may be to add certain words that must be used during the conversation though said in such a way to flow with what the other passengers are saying. These words could change per rotation.

Form a circle, ideally with everyone standing up. Have two people in the center of the circle with each of them in a different position such as being down on one knee, having both arms in the air, hands on hips, etc. The audience suggests a setting. The two people unfreeze from their positions though, at the same time, gaining inspiration of their mood and emotions from each other. The two people act out a scene together until anyone from the audience shouts, “Freeze!” When called, the two people freeze in whatever positions they are in at the moment. Then the caller takes one of the two frozen positions, thus having one person return within the circle of the audience. A new setting is called out. Another scene is acted out and continues until someone else shouts, “Freeze!”

***Some people prefer to have a list of 20 or more ready-made positions. A person could choose a number that would relate to a position.

The Typewriter (or The Computer?)
Someone pretends to type on a typewriter. The typewriter starts the story. For each character or object the typewriter mentions, a person from the audience jumps out and plays the character or object. The characters/objects members listen to the writer’s story and act it out, but the writer must also listen to the characters/objects when they add their own dialogue.

***If you have people who are shy to jump in as a character/object, then have everyone but the writer line up. You could serve as the facilitator and silently point someone on the stage with the writer when you hear a character/object mentioned.

First and Last
Gather 20+ children’s books at the library. Write down the first sentence of each of the books on individual slips of paper. Each slip is placed in hat. Then write down the last sentence of each of the books on individual slips of paper and place in second hat. Have one person draw one “first sentence” and one “last sentence” from each of the hats. Give no more than 10 seconds for the person to tell the impromptu story. Watch them attempt to connect the first and last sentence in a comprehensive story. Be prepared for many laughs!

***You may choose for everyone to know what sentences the person drew or it could be kept a secret.

If you enjoyed this blog, you may also want to find more games in my entries "Ancient Civilizations: Story Standards from Then to Now" as well as "Imagination: 2 Ways to Zap Creativity into Kids".

May life be one grand game for you.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Balancing Act: Old & New Storytelling Traditions

Finding balance on views of how to expand the art of storytelling amongst the elders versus the next generation of tellers of 18-30-year olds is not impossible as some may think in the storytelling community.

Perhaps it is fairer to keep age out and name the two views as traditionalists and innovators. Most people will probably see themselves as mixtures of both. This may already show that we as individuals and as a community must decide our stance.

Let us see how these two groups may fare in three categories:
1. Technology
2. Discovery
3. Coming Together as a People

Traditionalist: Tends to resist mixing the art with other mediums, especially for radio programs, television broadcasts, podcasts, blogs, etc. Narrower definitions of storytelling are common to exclude performers who do not normally call themselves storytellers such as radio personalities, stand-up comedians, filmmakers, etc. Though microphones may be used to perform or recordings may be made on CDs or DVDs to sell as merchandise, this is usually the extent of technology considered acceptable.

Innovator: Promotes the use of technology including downloadable stories on ipods, podcasts, blogs, MySpace, digital stories, or anything that advances the visibility of storytelling to the general public. Theatrical elements such as lights and sounds are more open to use though not always incorporated. There is more acceptance of using other words to describe storytelling such as spoken word, performing art, and narrative theatre in advertising materials.

Traditionalist: Honors stories from all times and cultures and seeks to show respect from which the roots of the stories take place. Any act of irreverence is looked down upon. There is recognition that each storyteller brings something unique in the telling. Often the teller searches for how to build bridges of understanding, peace, memories and information for the audience.

Innovator: Encourages the exploration of the art form in most, if not in all, ways. Respect for the roots of the story are acknowledged though not always respected through use of humor, shock-value or other dramatic tools. Sometimes this leads to riskier or sensitive subjects, which could shake the typical “G” or “PG” material produced for most storytelling audiences. Fringe festivals, story slams, and coffeehouses that support the spoken word are venues for this kind of teller. Tends to invite all as storytellers despite backgrounds.

Coming Together as a People—
Traditionalist: Supports storytelling as a way to strengthen families, communities, and nations through informal gatherings such as front porch tellings (also known as kitchen table tellings), neighborhood block parties, or other spontaneous functions. Other forums such as storytelling festivals, story swaps, and conferences are welcomed. Sometimes seeks others within the art through membership of a guild or with the National Storytelling Network. At the same time, if the organization should disappear, the teller comforts self that the art would continue as it has from the beginning of time.

Innovator: Outreaches through service or action-based projects, as these activities are popular on campuses across the nation. Whenever there is a natural disaster, medical need, or call for peace, several of these college-aged people rush to make a difference. The storytellers of this age group have often put together benefit concerts, like what was done for Hurricane Katrina, without any direction from organizations.

If you are both traditionalist and innovator, then you are not alone.
In many respects, one could say that there is already a balance of tradition and innovation within the American Storytelling Movement. The general mixture of the storytelling community is not split 50/50. My guess is that we are seeing more of a 70/30 with 70% leaning towards traditionalism. As the current 18-30-year-olds age, however, we will see a shift more to the innovation side. There is not a right or wrong percentage for the split to occur. Whatever the balance needs to be at the moment, that is what we will see.

Rather than define the “proper balance” of the American Storytelling Movement and the direction of storytelling, here is what an ideal balance would feel like:

Trust would be placed upon both traditionalists and innovators that decisions are in the best interest of respecting the art of storytelling

Value as a member of the storytelling community would be felt even with the differing views

Recognition would be given to those who uphold the traditions as well as those who evolve the art

Leadership of the art would evoke experience from traditionalists and from innovators

Here are shifts towards the innovator side through some actions by the National Storytelling Network:
1. Desires to have an 18-30-year-old on the Board of Directors
My proposed next step: As every state has a state liaison to represent the area, so could there eventually be a second state liaison from the 18-30-year-old range.

2. Reserves space in Storytelling Magazine for New Voices column
My proposed next step: This column could be offered to colleges across the nation for part of their campus newspapers. This would not be the first time that newspapers glean from other sources. Think of the Associated Press and the relationship with worldwide newspapers. Campus newspapers are no different.

3. Supports New Voices Discussion Group (18-30-year-old tellers and allies)
My proposed next step: With the monthly conference calls that are made for this group, there is small attendance. When goals are established and at least 30 members maintained, then the Discussion Group could transform into a Special Interest Group. Interestingly, membership to a group is not as important to this age group as to action. If the National Storytelling Network desires to see more of 18-30-year-olds, then "make-a-difference" programs need to be in place. Benefit concerts structured on a national level could be one such program.

4. Promotes Fringe at National Storytelling Conference
My proposed next step: Embrace a story slam as part of the National Storytelling Conference. Ever since the Fringe was introduced a couple years ago, the draw increased for 18-30-year-olds as well as for performers who may not label themselves as storytellers. Even so, only 10-15 of this age group attended versus over 250 of mainly 50+-year-olds. Varying the types of events/activities available at the conference serves as an invitation; sometimes all one needs is an invitation and feeling welcome in the storytelling community.

Balance is easier to accomplish if we remember that, regardless of age or views, that we are lured to storytelling for similar reasons.

Scott Russell Sanders lists ten main reasons:

1. Stories entertain us
2. Stories create community
3. Help us to see through the eyes of other people
4. Show us the consequences of our actions
5. Stories educate our desires
6. Stories help us to dwell in place
7. Stories help us to dwell in time
8. Stories help us to deal with suffering, loss, and death
9. Stories teach us how to be human
10. Stories acknowledge the wonder and mystery of Creation

***Sanders, S.R. (1997, Spring). “The Power of Stories.” The Georgia Review, 51(1), 113-126.

Within these reasons, is there room for traditional as well as newfangled ideas?

You know my answer.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Tandem Telling: 3 Paradoxes, 2 Mouths, 1 Voice

Thank you to Carol Esterreicher for the collage pictures of Rachel Hedman (left) and Holly Robison (right) during "The Mirror."

Being a mind reader is helpful though not required when you want to tell stories with a partner. Many well-known tandem tellers are husband/wife teams, who tend to be able to finish each other’s sentences in the stories with ease. Beyond tandem storytellers by marriage, several friendship pairs exist. (See bottom for examples)

While discussing tandem telling, you will discover two voices in this blog: Rachel Hedman and Holly Robison.

Three Paradoxes of Tandem Telling:
1. Shared and Unique Experiences
2. Trust and Mystery
3. Scripts and Spontaneity

Shared and Unique Experiences
Rachel: Being human beings, we already have several things in common. Immersing into folklore uncovers certain themes that we all share, which is one of the reasons there are thousands of Cinderella stories around the world.

At first glance, you may notice that our age and hair color are similar. Each of us is married to supportive husbands who understand how much we enjoy telling stories. We live within 40 minutes from each other in Utah so it is possible to practice pieces.

Holly: Important, we also share similar passions of singing and expressing ourselves on stage.

Rachel: One of the major differences between us is that Holly has three kids while I do not have any kids. Holly is able to look at certain stories from a mother’s point-of-view where I lack that experience.

Holly: Hopefully I don't try to "Mother" Rachel.

Rachel: We also grew up in different parts of the country.

Despite our different styles in the telling of tales, the more differences we have, the more shared experiences discovered.

Trust and Mystery
Rachel: When finding a partner for tandem telling, I had to have enough trust. There is more than one kind of trust. I may trust that someone is high on skills but I may not trust in their ability to complete projects in a timely manner or vice versa. An excellent resource on trust is “Speed to Trust” by Stephen MR Covey.

Holly: We spent our time together talking about more than the topic of storytelling and even doing activities beyond storytelling. We have to know each other as more than storytellers.

Rachel: As for Holly, she had been involved in storytelling long enough to be high in skills. I knew her for over three years and in that time I knew she had strong commitment to whatever she promised to do.

Holly: As for Rachel, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to tell with one of my favorite tellers. Anyone who knows Rachel can tell you Rachel does nothing half way.

I think we started with a good foundation of trust and luckily our experience only strengthened that trust.

Rachel: Three years or even a lifetime could never discover all the mysteries of myself or of Holly. . .

Holly: . . .like the mystery of Rachel's love for her car as a member of the family. The engine broke down and she had to say goodbye to that car and have her husband find another car to replace the void.

Rachel: Along the way of developing a tandem story, you may find out issues or struggles of your partner’s experience that could determine how you approach the piece. Perhaps if there was a story about a car that dies. . . or anything else that is emotional at the moment.

Scripts and Spontaneity
Rachel: Since we needed to understand the cues of when to jump in for our part of the story, we did use scripts. Not all tandem tellers use scripts, or at least do not share the stories word-for-word. Solo storytellers may shake their heads to scripts as this increases the chance to be frozen to words so that the stories stay stagnant. However one feels about scripts, this is a decision that every tandem team needs to make.

Holly: Just as many stories told begin on the page of a book before they are molded by a teller; our scripts were our jumping-off point.

Rachel: I believe that the more Holly and I tell as a tandem, the more spontaneous our stories will be.

Holly: I noticed that the more we told our stories and became more comfortable with them, the more we made the stories our own in words and actions.

--Script Excerpt--

"The Mirror", Korean tale adapted for tandem telling by Rachel Hedman
P1=Partner One (mainly farmer, grandmother, grandfather)—Rachel Hedman
P2=Partner Two (mainly wife, shopkeeper, boy)—Holly Robison
Both = Both Partners

P1: The farmer gathered everything in his cart to sell at market and before he left, his wife called,

Both: “Will you get something for me?”

P1: The farmer nodded. “As you will be caring for your parents and my son while I am away, it is only fair that I buy you something.”

P2: The wife smiled and yet she worried. She knew her husband was great at caring for the farm but he was a little . . .absent-minded.

Both: “Look at the moon.”

P2: “You see how it is in crescent shape? It looks like a comb that I would like you to get for me at the marketplace. So to help you remember what I want. . .

Both: “Look at the moon.”

--End of Script Excerpt--

Rachel: I have always enjoyed the power that can happen from a chant given by two people, especially for emphasis for a key part of the story.

Now compare to Holly’s style of scripting--

Holly: In "The Burro's Load", a Mexican tale, I played Pedro and Rachel played the Burro. Below is the ending.

--Script Excerpt--

Burro: The next day we went to a seashore market and I found that I liked carrying sponges even more than I liked carrying feathers. I could even run along the path with the lightness of the sponges. When we got to the stream I went down, down down.

Pedro: I expected this. Burrow did not expect what happened next though. When he stood up the load was heavy.

Burro: Heavy! Heavy is an understatement. I staggered out of the stream under the weight of … of whatever magic was on my back.

Pedro: Burro carried those water-filled sponges all the way home with the water dripping down his legs and behind, but that was the heaviest load he ever had to carry. For he never laid down in the water with packs on again.

Burro: You got that right!

--End of Script Excerpt--

Rachel: Though both example stories are scripted, you may notice that Holly’s style of writing allows more spontaneity in the telling. She focused on two characters of the story and had the piece told in the 1st person from two point-of-views rather than the 3rd person style for “The Mirror.”

Even though one person would be in charge of each story, we always left it open for our partner to add a little of their own personality to whatever part(s) that were needed to be filled. Holly may have had a certain pictures of Burro, though I had my own ways of interpreting Burro’s personality.

Holly: That is where most of the trust comes in. In trusting each other we could allow the partner to add themselves to the characters and we could talk about what we thought the story needed.

Rachel: Now that you have heard about three paradoxes. . .

Holly: of tandem telling, this is Holly and Rachel saying. . .

Both: . . .tell something together!

Sampling of Tandem Tellers (no particular order):

The Storycrafters with Jeri Burns and Barry Marshall (wife/husband)

Eth-Noh-Tec with Robert Kikuchi-yngojo and Nancy Wang (husband/wife)

Omar and Lori Hansen (husband/wife)

The Folktellers with Barbara Freeman and Connie Regan-Blake (cousins)
***Though they market now as solo tellers, if they are at the same event, they will sometimes share some tandem tales.

Story Quilters with Cynthia Restivo and B.Z. Smith (friends)

WonderWeavers with Tina Rohde and Colleen Shaskin (friends)

The Beauty and the Beast Storytellers with Mitch Weiss and Martha Hamilton (husband/wife)

***The National Youth Storytelling Showcase has a tandem category beyond the three age categories of elementary, middle, and high school-aged tellers. One year there was a group of three girls who told together. Elizabeth Rose, the NYSS Director, coined the term “tridem” for trio telling.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman and Holly Robison
Professional Storytellers
Rachel--info@rachelhedman.com, http://www.rachelhedman.com/