Le festival du conte finishes with a big hoopla and fanfare on Monday evening. Alas, I won't be here. I'd have liked to listen to the storytellers from the Belgian Federation of Professional Storytellers. I love that name--it sounds impressive, doesn't it?
Did I mention that at every performance, there have been cushions on the floor in front, then chairs behind with some on risers so everybody can see? Did I mention that the place has been packed every night, with about 100 listeners, mostly students, happy to soak in the stories? Did I mention the cash bar available before and after the evening shows? Did I mention that each evening, there has been a band after the stories? Maybe American storytelling festivals would begin to draw younger listeners if they were a bit more like this. Reminds me of Fringe festivals.
And of course the content must appeal to students...Last night Catherine Caillaud from France told love stories. Not sappy greeting card stories, but spicy, saucy stories for grownups. In the US the rating would be R or maybe NC-17 (and since younger kids often read my blog, I won't go into detail on the stories). The folktales were told with in a relaxed style with good humor and a lovely economy of movement. A few times, because of some back-and-forth with the audience and because of certain suggestive gestures, Catherine couldn't help but laugh. It didn't take us out of the story, as sometimes happens; instead, the connection with the audience grew stronger. She handled the distractions of a bottle dropping on the floor and a cell phone ringing easily, drawing a laugh each time.
I liked the form of the evening: Catherine created a frame story in which a young girl was told stories and proverbs of the intricacies and intimacy of love by her mother, sisters, aunts, great-aunts, grandmothers, that is, by all the wise women in her world. At one point early on, Catherine invited the students of Kap Contes, the storytelling cooperative running the festival, to come up on stage. She had each one read a traditional proverb on the subject, which she later wove into the stories.
It was a fun evening. I'd have liked to talk with the storyteller. I thought about staying afterwards, but I had an attack of timidity. I know that many people don't realize that some storytellers are quite shy at times, but we are.