Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"Tristan and Iseult" at the JDC

Yesterday I told "Tristan and Iseult" at a Juvenile Detention Center, the same facility where I did a writing workshop in March. None of the kids I met back then were in my audience yesterday.

The kids were attentive, after they settled in to the idea of listening to a story, after they realized that I wasn't going to treat them like babies. A few of them talked to me during the intermission and afterwards, though many were reserved. Kids in this sort of situation often take a little more time to gauge the situation and the adults around them.

The ideal season and time for this particular story would be a winter evening, with the audience sitting comfortably, possibly with a mug of hot cider or some other libation.

Yesterday I began at 9:00 a.m., in the JDC gym, a stark rectangular room with a cement floor. The kids sat on blue plastic chairs, girls in front and boys behind them. There were 11 girls and about 30 boys, down 30 kids from just last week, I heard. I had my microphone set up because of the echo-ey space and the occasional interruptions of walkie-talkies. Staff came in and out. A few kids had to go to other sessions (court? counseling? who knows?) in the middle of the story.

Every time I go to the JDC, I'm struck by how regular the kids seem. I don't know and I'm not allowed to ask why they're there. I do know that they listen in the same way that other kids do, and they ask the same kinds of questions at the end. While I hope the story has a good effect on them, I also know that I'm not in charge of what they get from it. I think it went well yesterday.

On Friday, I'll tell this story again, at a public library, as a Young Adult program. I bet the listeners will look just about the same, though not in JDC uniforms (white or blue tee shirt, blue sweatpants, white sneakers). Hope they like it.


Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I am glad to have found your website and blog. (I followed a link from someone else's website.) I would love to hear you tell in person sometime, but in the meantime am glad for the recordings on your site.

PriscillaHowe said...

Thanks! I'm hoping to be more diligent about putting calendar items on my website. Maybe sometime I'll be performing near where you are.