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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Storytelling no matter what happens!?!

The U.S.Postal Service"s unofficial creed used to be "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."  The motto is even inscribed on New York's James Farley Post Office, but it has no official status.  I live on a rural dirt road and have noticed a more realistic attitude has been used lately.  The mail still gets through, but sometimes is delayed.

Similarly scheduled programs sometimes need evaluation.  Weather can mean rescheduling or even cancellation.  Audience safety and comfort come first.  Similarly health of the storyteller is a factor.  Can the scheduled program be up to the expectations of the venue?  Years ago I canceled programs to face cancer treatments.  Looking back I believe it was the right decision as my energy level was a major factor.  If the venue had preferred to pursue the contracted program, however, I would still have done it.  Such decisions need to be made mutually.

As "Hello Girl", Oldea Joure Christides
I am currently tapping out this blog one-armed while my arm is in a bright shocking pink cast for a broken wrist.  With historical storytelling programs and a role in a musical also set in a historical time when my shocking pink cast doesn't match I wondered: What to do?  First various sleeves were checked.  YES! My arm can squeeze in -- the 1917 lace dress used in my program as Liberetta Lerich Green was tight, while my World War I uniform sleeves are roomy, and a white cutoff sock helps look like an old-time cast onstage for the musical.  Both types of historical storytelling programs were also able to use a sling for audiences close to the teller, concealing it.  Then comes the question of energy.  I'm a high-energy performer.  Could the programs still work?  Thankfully almost everything else in my life could be set aside.  Audiences have also said YES!

Here are photos from last Saturday in Bay City at the 84th State Conference of the Michigan Society Children of the American Revolution showing how it went.

This is MSCAR president, Madden Brady, who has made World War I and restoration of Bay City "Doughboy" statue his focus.



A few more members of the audience
Ovelia Taylor













It was a great opportunity to spread the word about this too often overlooked part of our history as we near the centennial of the U.S entering the war.  Adults there also agreed this is an important story in Women's History as these women battled for 60 years to gain recognition as veterans.  It was a pleasure to bring the program to them.

Now to survive The Mystery of Edwin Drood -- February 17 with additional shows on February 18, 19, 24, 25 & 26, 2017 at Central United Methodist Church. Friday and Saturday shows start at 7:30 p.m. Sundays at 4 p.m. 
 
Drood Ensemble ...note that wrist

and, while I'm battling feeling overwhelmed, I confess I just couldn't resist an excellent script, a director with whom I have wonderful past theatre experience, and fellow actors I value.

The story of this storyteller continues, fortunately March 3 the cast on my arm is scheduled for removal.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Thorne-Thomsen - East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Facebook would call this a Status Update, but this week 2 storytelling programs and the start of a workshop series I sometimes lead + 2 rehearsals for the musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood (opening next week!) coupled with the energy drain from my broken wrist in a cast = me feeling definitely underpowered...to say nothing of the way it slows me up!  I used to put this sign behind my nameplate when working as a librarian: Please Lord...Grant Me Patience, BUT HURRY!

That little sign is so ME.

In the meantime I need to adjust plans and today's post is that adjustment.  Not only did the influential storyteller, Gudrun Thorne-Thomsen, make today's story the title of her great littl book, but it's the title of 3 others in my library:


Normally I'd insert the illustrations from those, but only the Nielsen ones are in Public Domain and frankly it's more than I am up to at present.  I do recommend looking up these and even more versions of the story.  Today let's see why this story has caught the imagination of so many illustrators -- check Amazon using both "o'" and "of" for its title and you'll see what I mean.  If you don't look back at the earlier article on today's author/translator, Thorne-Thomsen, know that the story opens with an illustration by Frederick Richardson, whose colorful work appears throughout the book.





















Can't you just picture that circle of stone trolls?!  My third book bearing this title doesn't name the translator, in fact the Kay Nielsen book doesn't say if he translated his either, but he was Danish, so it's probable.  What the third book, part of the Macmillan Classics series, offers beyond Tom Vroman's illustrations is an afterword by Clifton Fadiman who notes the way folktales travel, so that you may notice its similarity to other tales -- this one manages to put together several, doesn't it? -- yet the tale has a flavor all its own.  Fadiman points to that white bear and those trolls in talking about the stories collected by Asbjornsen and Moe and their Norwegian flavor.

 Thorne-Thomsen does an excellent job of making the story tellable.  About the only change for today's audiences would be her frequent use of the word "thither",  but then again that may be a bit of flavoring you may enjoy.  It's all rather like seasoning some cooking isn't it?
*********
Here's my closing for days when I have a story in Keeping the Public in Public Domain
***************** 

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  


At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it. 

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend -
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!



Saturday, February 4, 2017

Energy...Cutting Back?

Bad memory?  Doing too much?

Dunno, but this is same wrist broken a year ago & am exhausted!  Last year taught sign language class left-handed...great mental exercise switching from dominant hand.  Feel more beaten up than a few years ago in chemo!  At least my hair stays, but needs help.

Am typing strictly left-handed in case my overly-sensitive nerves under cast need rest.  I know it affects my sleep.

Being a high-energy person this is maddening.  Can force enough out to do storytelling gigs without it hindering performance, but beyond that?  I'm also 2 weeks from an admittedly minor, but fun, role in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  Have looked forward to all the improvisation the show involves.  It's a musical supposedly performed by a ragtag group called the Music Hall Royale in 1895.  The show within the show, after improvising with the audience and an opening song, begins with this explanation:
 and there's other opportunities throughout the show for the performers to let their other selves pop out...complete with dialects.  For my part I have chosen to be the only Scot among all those Brits. . .

Scotland Forever! At Waterloo 200 website find this explanation about the painting:

This wonderful painting depicts the 2nd (Royal North British) Regiment of Dragoons, a British cavalry regiment later known as the ‘Scots Greys’, at full charge during the Battle of Waterloo. It was not only painted by a woman, which was rare enough among battlefield artists of the 19th century, but by a woman who had never witnessed a battle.

Lois:  There's more, so I hope you visit the Waterloo site and also Wikipedia's article about Scotland_Forever!

This important painting of the Waterloo battle was made in 1881, so this Scottish rallying cry seems apt for my character.   The topic of being a British Subject, but not English, is also cause for song in the show.  

Can you tell I really want to do this?  I even have a story ready about how my arm got in a cast.

What to do?

I once looked back at those months while in chemo and decided I was right to cancel gigs because my energy level was definitely NOT my normal.  Unfortunately -- or maybe fortunately for my own craving activity -- February has storytelling gigs, some other work, and the show is the final 2 weekends in February.  It's not possible to cancel or find replacements this close to their dates.  I am going to rest this arm.  Having my fingers outside the cast has let me try to do too much.  Hopefully I only have to wear it for 1 week further in March and not until mid-March.

It's a matter of prioritizing.  Singers often must rest their voices.  Theatre origins and training long ago taught me: Your body is your instrument, so take care of it.  

I'm trying, but as my family knows, the reply to that is: Yes, you're very trying!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Summer Reading to Build a Better World

Who is as frustrated as the proverbial "one-armed paper hanger"?  A puppeteer with her arm in a cast!  Yes, I'm talking about myself.  O.k I can still tell stories and have several programs this month and next even while a shocking pink cast protects my broken wrist.  Since all are historical programs where I wear long sleeves, I worried and checked.  What a great relief to find they all fit, especially my World War I "Hello Girls" uniforms!  Also a friend pointed out it would be appropriate using a sling to cover up that non-historical, but hysterical pink.
(No, this isn't a picture of me with a broken wrist)

After so many years as a children's librarian, I can't help it, January and winter weather always gets me thinking about Summer Reading Programs.  I'm so glad I won't have to wait until summer for my cast to come off!  My summer program last year had me and Priscilla Gorilla cheer reading, and we will again, although this year with stories supporting the 2017 “Build a Better World” multi-state summer reading program theme.  The program's title is "Cheering You On to Build a Better World with Stories from Many Lands."  The stories deal with the important ideas of cooperation, friendship, and stopping bullying.  Many include audience participation to help young readers make the stories their own and easily carry the ideas away with them.  As for the use of puppet sidekicks, such as Priscilla Gorilla, it lets an audience join in more intimate fun than is possible in a large assembly program.

You can already find some of those cheers, the ones related to reading and libraries, here on this blog. That program from last year is always a great program for reading and fits both schools and summer reading.  Some will still be used because they're about reading..  With one hand unavailable for puppetry, now is the perfect time to create some additional cheers about cooperation, friendship, and stopping bullying as we work to Build a Better World.  Since even typing is currently slowed down I used a lot here from my website about summer reading programs because my hand is still quite sore.  Since my handwriting now is even worse than my typing, I'd love to have my readers send me their own cheers on cooperation, friendship, stopping bullying and any other ways for young summer readers to Build a Better World.  I'll gladly credit you for your creations.  This blog doesn't tend to provoke controversy, it's not my style, so comments here are fairly rare, although, because I also announce it on Facebook and Twitter, comments tend to come there and in my email.  However they may reach me, I think these ideas are truly needed.  Building a Better World is something to cheer. 
My webpage I mentioned tends to be more of a sales page and I notice something there which probably also should be mentioned here: I qualify for Michigan grant funding as I'm in the Arts & Humanities Touring Directory (on page 52).  Beyond that I'm still very much a librarian and I understand library budget limitations.  Aside from thinking very creatively about ways to finance a program, if there is any way I can work with a library's budget, I promise to do so.

Fortunately I already put together a list of stories and two books I highly recommend to help you in your own storytelling to Build a Better World: 

Ladies First



Tippingee 



A Strange Friendship  (Marlu & Willie Wagtail)



The VIBs 



Tops & Bottoms 



Brementown Musicians  



Cat & Mouse Who Shared a House 



The Elephant & the Dog (Jataka) 



Old Joe & the Carpenter 



Bird in the Hand 



Difference Between Heaven & Hell



Test of Friendship  (Syria)



Filling the House


All the stories in Margaret Read MacDonald’s book, Peace Tales, also helpful is Bobby and Sherry Norfolk’s book, The Moral of the Story; Folktales for Character Development, especially their bibliographies.  When I worked regularly with teachers I often recommended them for problem classrooms.  Their topics: Peace, living in harmony with one another; courtesy, kindness, and compassion; honesty; work ethic; teamwork and cooperation; humanity; responsibility; respect.

I look forward to your cheers, casting off my one-armed status, and the eagerly awaited return of summer!

UPDATE   UPDATE   UPDATE  UPDATE   UPDATE   UPDATE   UPDATE   UPDATE  
Michigan Humanities Council publishes an e-newsletter and this is from their February newsletter:

2017 Arts & Humanities Touring Grants
Apply today - take a look at our Touring Directory and select a performer for your community event! 
 The 2017 Quick Grant cycle will open Monday, February 13, 2017.Please allow up to four (4) weeks for your application to be processed.
Quick Grants provide up to $500 to Michigan-based nonprofit organizations in support of public humanities programs.
Visit our website for more information.

Yes,  I'm in the Touring Directory and qualify for those grants.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Thorne-Thomsen - The Princess on the Glass Hill - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

I confess it freely, I HATE WINTER!  On Facebook I found this from "U.P. Michigan"
I don't just "Like" that, I flat out Love it.

It's a reminder of that story starter: It Could Be Worse.  In fact today's story proved prophetic.  More on that in a bit.

Frankly we haven't had anything near that much in snow as pictured, but we've had snow.  I'm originally from St. Louis, MO (didn't even know there was a St. Louis, MI 'til I moved here) and they're usually about 10 degrees warmer, or more.  I miss it, what I don't miss is their ice.  I vividly recall a scary drive up and down on the Kingshighway Bridge.  YIKES!  Such memories are usually stirred up here around New Year's when it often hits, but as I started writing this earlier this week I felt like the Princess in today's story.  Our bunny slope of a hill was glass.  The dirt road at the foot of it was glass.  Climbing it last Monday, after finding my car couldn't make it over the crest of the hill, I was just looking forward to being safe in the house.

Little did I know that Thursday I would fall and break my wrist on yet another "glass hill."  Fortunately most of this was written already.

  
You'll not catch me rhapsodizing about snow and winter, but maybe I can pass along a story to warm up with by a fire . . . or whatever heater warms you through this weather.  I've seen some collections list this among Swedish tales, but it's definitely claimed by the Norwegians from the time Asbjornsen and Moe published Norwegian Folktales (Norwegian: Norske Folkeeventyr) throughout the 1840s.  It probably first appeared in English when Sir George Webbe Dasent in 1859 translated their work in Popular Tales from the Norse (there are copies all over the internet, that link is to the Project Gutenberg edition).  There are tons of translations in Public Domain, but I chose the one by Gudrun Thorne-Thomsen from her landmark book East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon. The title page continues "with Other Norwegian Folk Tales", it also says it's "retold", so why use her version?  Because she's Norwegian through and through, born along the fjord in Trondheim, but turned dedicated Chicagoan at age 15, eventually teaching at the University of Chicago and as a pioneer storyteller in the Chicago Public Library branches.  That 1912 book and her work eventually moved her into doing still more in education and storytelling nationally, including two more books and recording her storytelling for both the Library of Congress and (later RCA) Victor records.  Before her death in 1956 the American Library Association honored her work pioneering library storytelling with a day-long storytelling festival at their annual conference.

Today's story is long enough I can imagine some saying it should start at the dividing mark 1/3 of the way into the tale.  It's possible to do that giving a brief summary, but beyond the princess or the slippery hill the story is as much about the CinderLad, Boots, if not more so.  Some versions, in fact, just call him the CinderLad, but then again the name of Boots is popular in Scandanavian stories.  Keeping his earlier part, whatever we call him, of the story presents a splendid example throughout the tale of the traditional folklore use of threes.  Many versions of the story are in Public Domain, including illustrations.  I'll insert some beyond the only one in Thorne-Thomsen's version.  So put your feet up and warm up a bit with a story that's been a classic for a long, long time.

from Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book illustrated by H.J.Ford or G.P.Jacomb Hood, 1889
Illustrated by Frederick Richardson in Gudrun Thorne-Thomsen's East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon, 1912
illustrated by Kay Nielsen in his East of the Sun and West of the Moon, 1914
illustrated by Elizabeth MacKinstry in The Fairy Ring edited by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith, 1906

from Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book illustrated by H.J.Ford or G.P.Jacomb Hood, 1889
illustrated by Kay Nielsen in his East of the Sun and West of the Moon, 1914
from Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book illustrated by H.J.Ford or G.P.Jacomb Hood, 1889
Don't you love that ending?  So much better than the unrealistic "they all lived happily ever after."  I notice they still couldn't manage that glass hill.  Neither can I!  I'll do my best to keep this coming on schedule, just as I have performance commitments also coming up throughout January and February.  Much of today's information about Thorne-Thomsen came from Storytelling: Art and Technique by Ellin Greene in the second chapter, "Storytelling to Children in Libraries."  Google Books offers the third edition online, but I asked friend and colleague, Dr. Janice Del Negro, who co-authored the fourth edition, if that chapter remained in the fourth edition and she assured me it does as it dates back to the original edition by Augusta Baker, who knew Thorne-Thomsen.  Janice is going to try and get additional information about Thorne-Thomsen and I hope to include it -- broken wrist and all -- with a very brief tale also in Thorne-Thomsen's East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon because it helps solve an important archeological mystery.

Hope that whets your curiosity and you keep coming back!

Here's my closing for days when I have a story in Keeping the Public in Public Domain
***************** 

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  


At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it. 

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend -
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!