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, April 30, 2006

After Tax Time

Last Tuesday found The Patchwork Players working very locally. The Cole Branch of the Carlsbad Library. We here in San Diego County pay more for gas then just about anywhere in the country, we are glad to get gigs close to home whenever we can. It was like old home day for James who has been going to this library for more than twenty years. We had a few dozen kids and their parents, and the Children’s Librarian in attendance. We told some classic Library stories like Caps for Sale, and some of our all time favorites for just about anywhere; Too Much Noise and Baby Coyote. The kids were engaged and had a good time. The Parents told us they liked the show, and the Librarian told us she will tell her colleagues how pleased she is with the Patchwork Players.

On Friday, Patti was joined by our storytelling buddy, Panchita Acevedo, to tell stories to celebrate the Mexican holiday Dia de los Niños, the day of the children. They were at an area school, San Pasqual-a little one school district out by the Wild Animal Park in Escondido CA. The two told a variety of traditional Mexican folktales bilingually in English and Spanish. This elementary school has 140 children who are Spanish speaking out of a school body of 600 children. Panchita is so fun to work with because she doesn’t just “translate” the story into Spanish; she is a master storyteller in her own right and tells the story as she thinks it should be told in Spanish. This includes using lots of famous sayings, slang, and referring to things that Spanish speaking people would recognize. Because we kept the language chunks quite brief, and because Panchita is so brilliantly expressive, even though most of the audience does not speak Spanish, they were able to follow the story in both languages. As one teacher said, this is a good experience for our English only students to see what it is like to hear something that you don’t understand the words and have to listen and watch carefully to try to see what is going on. All in all it was an excellent day. Well worth the effort of coordinating telling in two languages.

Then on Saturday, Patti joined Panchita gain to tell one of the most famous scary Mexican tales, La Llorona, the Waling/crying woman. This was at a Cinco de Mayo (5th of May) special event at a local park. This audience was largely Spanish speaking folks from a nearby neighborhood. Here Panchita took the lead, but again, it was joy to work together bringing this traditional story alive. (Many tell us that it isn’t a legend, but rather truly happened.) James was able to come along both to hear how Patti and Panchita worked together and to also take some photos. We hope in the future to work out some programming where the three of us can tell stories together.

In the meantime, happy May, happy Cinco de Mayo, happy spring, and happy storytelling!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Southern CA Story Swap

On Saturday April 22, 2006 Patti & James joined with 45 other storytellers and story enthusiasts’ from throughout the region for a day of story sharing and networking. This was the 23rd annual event, this one hosted by the southern Coast Storytellers guild. People drove down from areas north of Los Angeles, as far up as San Diego and over from the desert communities of Palm Springs and Palm Desert. We met at the Santa Ana Zoo (a story in itself…what do 45 storytellers do at a zoo? Tell a lot of tails…or tales?)

One of the teller’s likened this to a family reunion with the old uncles and aunts and new cousins’ alls getting together. Patti has been to 7 of these, with James attending 4. We were also glad to see a number of folks not only attending their first swap, but their first storytelling event ever. What a joy to join together with storytelling friends, gathering in small groups to share stories-in our group, people got telling stories of being a child and caught in a lie, as well as adventures and misadventures with brothers and sisters.

Then there was a concert with one representative form each of the storytelling guilds, groups or clubs in the area. This number is always a bit fluid, with some groups such as the Southern Coast Guild having a Guild house and non-profit status, to groups that may or may not be regularly meeting. All were welcome and filled with joy of stories. After lunch there was time for a “Got a Minute, Hear a Story” concerts, filled with heart-warming tales and real groaners to jokes. There was even a wee teller, a girl no more than eight who had a minute story of her own to share. James broke out a classic Ole and Lena Norwegian story, while Patti managed a version of a frog trying to get a bank loan from an employee Ms. Patricia Wack, using a statuette for collateral. The punch line “It’s a knickknack Pattywack, give the frog a loan. Ha ha.

Later, there was time to hear “the news” about what was happening in each group, what concerts and festivals are coming up and how to get more involved in storytelling. Many people encouraged the website for the National Storytellers Network Anyway, next year’s family reunion will be hosted by Community Storytellers up in LA. You are invited. Watch this space for information on upcoming events. Or drop us and email and ask to be put on our email list for our periodic updates

Monday, April 03, 2006

Renaissance Players

It has been a busy and a bit funny storytelling week for Patti and James. The Children's Hospital storytelling on Fridays continues to be a HUGE blessing to us and to the children, families and staff. We can't believe how lucky we are that we get paid to hang out and listen and tell stories to these people during this very difficult time in their lives. WOW! And this week we realized that we are not getting lost as much. The hospital is like a labyrinth, and at last we are finding our way around

On Friday evening we were part of a gala event at a world class health spa, listed as one of the top-ten. The owner of the spa was celebrating his 50th birthday by flying in 45 of his best friends from around the country. James and Patti became the greeters, hosts and emcees for a French Renaissance dinner in a recently moved and reconstructed 17th century French chapel now located at the spa. We had to purchase upper class Renaissance costume (we're trying to get photos) and then greet and mingle with the crowd. Our characters were that of a noble Lord and Lady, hosting the event. A makeup artist on staff, who studied under the likes of Rick Baker, did our makeup and then a stylist put Patti in a below the shoulder blond wig. The evening was a great example of Interactive, Improvisational Story Theatre. What a wild trip!

We were so successful that they invited James to come back the next evening too, in a rented tiger costume, play the Louisiana Sate University Tiger mascot, Mike, and lead ten members of a high school band in playing the LSU fight song, as well as other marching band songs after LSU lost their semifinal game in the NCAA basketball tournament. (Most of the guest had graduated form LSU). They lost, so James directed the band to play a riff of Taps. He was wildly, and well received, and we hope that there will be other, less theatrical, storytelling jobs there in the future. Just another day or two, in the lives of professional storytellers.