Sunday, January 28, 2007

Catching up

It has been a busy month, busier than January usually is. No complaints! I like to work.

IPAY went well (see my last post). I'm glad I got a spotlight showcase, especially glad that it was an evening show. The organizers weren't sure that anybody would show up--there were about 130 people when I went on! I think the presenters (people who book artists, not the artists themselves) were hungry for more performances. There were some excellent showcases during the day, but for various reasons many would be a challenge for American presenters to book. Or maybe the audience came to the evening spotlights because there were free drinks. No matter, it was a great crowd, with some lovely juicy faces right in front.

I had a fine time telling stories at the Village Presbyterian Preschool just after IPAY. I did three shows. In the first, I had one of those tender souls who fell apart before one of the stories got resolved. I could see her start to go, her mouth open in that lima bean shape (thanks to Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo for that description), trembling slightly. "I don't like it!" she wailed. This was the story "Cheep and Cackle," which I tell to little tinies quite often. It had too much conflict for her. A teacher swept this child up and carried her out to be comforted. The other teachers reassured me that this was usual. When they came back, the little girl sat in the nest of the teacher's lap, watching me accusingly for the rest of the program. Ah, well. It reminded me of my friend Jayne's daughter, who got upset by the song "Poor little bug on the wall" because of the lines "No one to love him at all, no one to blow his nose, no one to tickle his toes." I do my best to shift the tone down when I see a child getting upset, but it doesn't always work.

The second show there was for two-year-olds, so was about 20 minutes long, just what they could manage. The third show was a group of intrepid four- and five-year-olds, ready for everything. I love it when something in my performance connects with a classroom experience--the kids in one of those classes had just played mancala that morning, so they were excited to hear about it in "Unanana and the Elephant".

Since I last wrote, I've also been back to Salina for some fun in the schools this past week. This is the second time I've done a writing day there. In the morning, I met with all of the fifth graders at Sunset School. I told them stories and introduced them to a few ideas about writing. Then I met with the three classes individually. We talked about writing, about backstory, about looking at the world like a writer, and we did some writing together. Fifth grade is perfect for this: they put their pencils on the paper and wrote their hearts out for the timed writings.

In Salina I also gave a workshop for teachers and librarians on using puppets and story stretches. Long day. The next morning, I told the entire story of "Tristan and Iseult" for 6th graders, starting at 7:40 a.m. Fortunately, the fire drill began AFTER I'd finished the story and was just doing a little extra with the students. Then I went on to another school to tell stories to 2nd graders, then 4th graders.

That was an intense two days. Good, though.

Now I'm home catching up on paperwork. I'm booking heavily for summer: I already have almost 40 performances in libraries set up for June and July. I promise to get the calendar on my website up to date soon!

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