Adventures in Storytelling

The adventures of The Patchwork Players, Patti Christensen and James Nelson-Lucas, as they travel the dimensions of time and space, telling their tales

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Chinese New Year

Another busy weekend for The Patchwork Players. Yesterday we told tales at a very special birthday party. It was Kyler’s fifth birthday, and he loves camping. Well, his folks set up a camp out themed party, complete with a faux campfire. We have some experience in the world of camping, we were happy to come and share campfire tales. We came set for bear, with walking sticks, hiking boots, back packs and a passel of stories. We told some true-life stuff, as well as some classic and neo-classic “not too scary stories”. We had a great time. The kids were wonderful, and really enjoyed the show. The folks were very hospitable and were generous with both food and conversation. This was about as good as a private kids party gets. We sometimes hesitate to tell at birthday shows too often as it is not unusual that the Storytellers are treated as second class baby-sitters. If every family was like Kyler’s, we would do a bunch more private birthdays.

Today, we were back at the San Diego Museum of Art for the Asian Empires Family Fun Festival, celebrating the Chinese New Year. We love doing San Diego Museum of Art festivals. There was a great mix of people there, families with a long history with museums, and people who have never been in a museum before. We told four sets. Each show and each audience had a flavor all their own. See for more information.

In our first set our main story was the Chinese story “The Laziest Boy in the World”. A story about the changes that can happen when you challenge pre-conceived notions about yourself.

Next, we told a Northern Indian tale we call “All Is as It Should Be”. A story of wisdom and adventure. At that show there was a young girl who has seen The Patchwork Players before. As a matter of fact, she had seen us tell “All Is as It Should Be” before. Still, she was rapt in a story trance. Afterwards, she gave James two hugs and a kiss on the forehead. Storytellers are the new Rock Stars...well maybe for some. Anyway, that kind of feedback is worth more than any kind of money. (However, our landlord likes cash, so we will still need to charge for our services)

During the break, we met Mona, a docent in the Asian gallery. She had some great stories to share with the visitors, about the art. It was a pleasure to hear her tell her tales. She also recognized our storytelling style is much like the theatre style of Comidia Del Artes (see ). Wow, Mona knows a lot about history, art AND theatre. We were glad that she recognized our interpretation of this classic form of storytelling.

In our last two shows we told some classic Japanese stories. The Peach Boy and The Boy Who Drew Cats.

After The Peach Boy, we chatted with a mother from Japan. She was very familiar with this classic tale, and really appreciated The Patchwork Players version. In the next show there were some who knew the story of The Boy Who Drew Cats. They liked our version too. This was the last show of the day and it was probably the largest, and most engaged audience of the day.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

History & Healing

Last Sunday, January 15th, 2006, we told our “Hero’s Journey” tale at the J. Paul Getty Museum. This is one of our favorite, original stories. As much fun as we had during our four tellings, it was a melancholy day. This was our last day for our current Getty booking. At the end of the day we had told the story to 32 different audiences in the gallery, over the course of two years. To our delight another of our biggest, little fans, Samantha (in the front row), and her family, came to see us. We had some very special connections with the audiences that day. One little girl came back to us to tell us she found stories in other galleries too! An important part of our mission when working in museums is to get folks engaged with the art. So her appreciation really warmed our hearts.

We were also pleased that among our audiences were a reporter and photographer from the Los Angeles Daily News. The reporter; Valerie.Kuklenski, was working on a piece about storytelling throughout the southland. Her article was the front page feature of the “U” section of the LA Daily News this week. The “U” section is that weekly, magazine section that features entertainment and cultural events. The Patchwork Players were not the only folks interviewed for the article. But our picture dominated the first page of the story. See a smaller version of that photo here in the Blog. (John McCoy / Staff Photographer)
That’s us telling stories at the Getty. For the next week, you can see the web-version of the article at: .

So Sunday at the Getty, Thursday we awoke to find our picture in the paper. Then on Friday, we were off to San Diego Children’s Hospital. Intrepid readers of our blog, may remember that the Children’s Hospital called us to interview for a storytelling job. We were recommended by our storytelling friend Linda Sue Whiteside. We were and are, very honored. Linda has been telling at the Children’s Hospital for about three years. Well the program is expanding and they need more tellers! So off we were to see Bob Davis, head of the Healing Arts Department. We had a wonderful interview. We were only half way through when Bob offered us the job. We will come on as part time employees, with real employee badges, going through new employee orientation; they take out taxes and Social Security, the whole ball of wax! We will start within the month, after the background checks, etc. We expect to be on site for eight hours, just about every Friday as long ad the funds hold out. Since a good portion of the funds are coming from , Audrey Giessel, Mrs. Doctor Seuss, we hope to be there for a long while. Both Patti and James need to do some juggling to make this happen. But it will be worth it! Remember, even though there is Seuss money involved, they are always in need of support. See for more information. We feel like there is a whole new world of storytelling in the healing arts ahead of us.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Welcome to Dreamshapers . They are an organization of Storytellers, Musicians, Magicians, Animal Acts and goodness knows what else. Late last year we were asked to be a part of Dreamshapers, joining some very fine performers here in the southland. So this is a picture of us at our first Dreamshapers event, a Los Angeles County Library Showcase. What is a Showcase, you ask? Well, a bunch of us performers (see above performer types) gather the ‘strut our stuff’ before a bunch of library folks. You see, these library folks are always looking for some live talent programming to bring to their libraries. Especially, for their Summer Reading Program. This year’s theme is all about Animals. So these folks are exposed to a good number of acts that they can book for their libraries.

So there we were, with such wonderful folks as Ina Buckner-Barnett, Barbara Wong, Flights of Fancy (another Story Theatre Duo), Linda King & Bob Pruitt, Wendy Hersh, Michael McCarty, and oh so many special performers. It was great to see them, walk around and look at people’s promotional materials, and catch up on what friends have been up to. The hard part of being independent artists is we don’t that often get a chance to see one another. Often we hear, “Oh Linda was just here last week.” We love being part of this vibrant community of southern Californian artists.

As we had only seven minutes to present ourselves to the throng, we had to cut it close. We teased “Caps For Sale”, then told a quick version of one of our favorite, and most popular tales, “The Baby Coyote”. In that story we open with James wearing a coyote tail and running on all fours through the audience. We think that set us apart from the other acts for sure! Then we ended the story with the whole audience howling!

We got a couple of immediate “bites” for bookings, and hope to hear form some other the other librarians as they put together their year’s schedules. Both of us love libraries and the free access it gives people to books and learning. It was a good day.

Then, on the way home, we got a call from the good people at The San Diego Children’s Hospital. It looks like we are in line for an interview for telling stories to the kids in hospital. So we ask ourselves…why just Children’s Hospital? Storytellers should be in every hospital everywhere! If you know someone in the hospital game, tell them they need storytellers.

Warning: January 15th may be our last telling of “A Hero’s Journey” at the J Paul Getty Museum. Well, at least the last telling we are scheduled to tell…
Check out their website at and come on in to see this tale. It is one of our favorites.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone. We hope you all had a safe, sane and fun night last night. The Patchwork Players spent the evening at one of our favorite events: First Night Escondido. Much of the event, and indeed, the Storytelling Stage, was outdoors. Last night it rained. Last year we had a few scattered showers. But this year it RAINED. Luckily our stage was nicely covered with a canopy, and had plenty of dry seats for the audience. We were glad to see many hearty folks brave the elements to be a part of the First Night Celebration. We did two shows, to packed audiences! That’s a lot of folks to show up in the pouring rain. We even saw that about a half-a-dozen kids caught both shows! Thanks kids, for not spoiling “The Baby Coyote” story in the second show.

Also on The Storytelling stage were our friends Mindy Donner and Eduardo Garcia, AKA, The Spinning Wheel Players. It was great to catch an Eduardo and Mindy’s show as they mix music and story to create a wonderful show. They are both so talented and had they audience in the palms of their hands.

While not on stage as The Patchwork Players, Patti & James wandered around and took in some of the other great acts there. We saw Brad French, a fine juggler and friend of ours from our LEGOLAND stints. And look what got us on the front page of the 2nd largest newspaper in San Diego, the North County Times, this morning...

We danced to the gospel rhythms of Theophonic and the Christian Rock of The Ridgeview Church band. For a bit of time, we were “the crowd”. And why let a little rain keep you from dancing? I guess that’s why we ended up on the front page. Later we enjoyed The Moon Dawgs and their great mix of 50’s 60’s and Surf hits. At that show, there was this little girl, maybe four years old at most. She loved The Moon Dawgs and danced, danced, and danced. She was too cute. Everywhere you turn at First Night there is music, food, fun and entertainment. Bouncin’ Dan, The Dragon Knights, drummers, dancers and magicians and more. We Love First Night! There should be a First Night event every weekend! (Okay, it would be hard for every weekend to really be the first night of the new year, but today is the first day of the rest of your life….)

In keeping with our New Year’s tradition, we got some great pizza at Fillippi’s Pizza Grotto. James has been eating Fillippi’s Pizza nearly all his life. They are a San Diego area institution. The last few years The Patchwork Players have enjoyed their New Years Eve feast at Fillippi’s. Last year it was Lasagne, this year, The Works Pizza. YUM!!!

And speaking of food…today we will continue our New Year’s tradition with a fine morning meal of Dim Sum. Okay, you have heard of eating black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s day (haven’t you?). Well, having Dim Sum on New Year’s day is a long those same lines. Dim Sum? Delicious Chinese finger food. If you have not had Dim Sum, find some soon. Dim Sum rocks!

Speaking of the New Year…Patti and James are very excited about this year. There are so many great projects and events in the works. 2006 is going to be a great year for The Patchwork Players. Watch this space and for more information.