Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Long traditional stories

The conference seems so long ago now. I've been home for over a week, and have had six more performances (with five more to go this week and then I'm DONE for almost the rest of the summer!).

One of the high points was hearing Megan Wells do her showcase of "Helen's Troy." Last March, another storyteller told me, "You have to hearMegan tell that story!" She was right. Megan's telling is graceful, elegant, compelling. "Crystalline" comes to mind, though that sounds cold, and it wasn't. It's a long traditional piece, cut down for this venue to 90 minutes. Megan has been telling it in theaters, with lighting, costume and sound, since it's hard to find a storytelling venue for these long stories.

I'd known that she tells other long traditional stories, because a few years ago Drew Gibson put on Epic Fest in Vermont, and Megan was one of the tellers. I heard about it after the fact, alas. Even before hearing about it, I'd been talking with Liz Warren from Arizona about our own long traditional stories (she tells "The Grail," I tell "Tristan and Iseult"). In our discussions, we've focused on traditional stories, the ones that have been around for hundreds of years, not personal or literary stories.

One thing we have learned is that these stories are deeply satisfying for the teller and the listeners. We get a chance to live in the story for longer, to go into story trance and come out the other side. Wouldn't it be great if there were more venues for this kind of profoundly nourishing story?

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