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

Monday, June 26, 2006

Ahoy Mateys!

Ahoy Matey! One of our favorite venues and amusement parks LEGOLAND CA ( ) had a sneak preview of a new attraction mid-June. Pirate Shores, a series of fun, water rides and activities is now open to the public. The Patchwork Players joined a number of our favorite entertainers, plus some new friends in introducing this new attraction. We donned our pirate garb and headed out for two rollicking days of telling pirate tales, getting our photos taken, getting squirted by riders on pirate ships and telling and hearing some hilarious pirate jokes. Where did the peg legged pirate go for breakfast? …..I-hop! Why can’t kids go see the scariest pirate movies? Because they are rated AARRRRRR. We especially enjoyed meeting members of a local pirate guild The HMS Stranglehold crew ( ). They, in addition to being “real pirates” also have members who dress up as Klingons. Oh, we love the world of entertainers. We hope you get a chance to get over to LEGOLAND sometime soon and play with the pirates. It was a great time.

Patti then joined the Girl Scouts of Yorba Linda in Orange County CA for Around the World in Five Days at their day camp. Nearly 450 girls from Kindergarten through grade 6 were there making crafts, earning badges, and hearing Patti tell stories from Asian. Each day the camp featured guest artists and performers from around the region. They were enthusiastic volunteers and pretty good actors, too. They especially enjoyed helping to bring to life Lon Po Po, the Chinese Little Red Riddinghood story. Patti was a Girl Scout in Minnesota all throughout her school years, and so has a special warm spot in her heart for this terrific young development program.

Over the next five weeks, summer reading programs in the public libraries start with a vengeance. Start tuned for news on Animal Tales: Let’s Act It Out.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


The Patchwork Players blew out the barn doors this first weekend of June ‘06

Patti is a part of a team of creative folks that bring arts to the schools under the SUAVE program. Now we come to the end of the school year, and so on Thursday, Patti bid a fond farewell to two of the primary school classes she has been working with all spring. James was able to go along and help to tell a tale or two. It was very touching to see how much the kids had connected with Patti. She spoke to their creative, intuitive and analytical brains. This was very evident in the ‘thank you’ and ‘farewell’ notes they wrote for her. They also loved having James come in to add a bit of his own special energy point of view. After the presentations, kids lined up to get James’ autograph. Storytellers are like Rock Stars to these kids.

Friday was a GO-Go day. We started at our regular Friday gig telling stories and doing magic for kids in the hospital. Well, not just the kids, we are there for family members and care-givers too. It is so rewarding to be able to make a difference in the lives of folks who are in crisis situations. You may have noticed we do stories and magic. Both have their place. Especially for some of the older kids; When they hear “do you want to hear a story?” they think Little Kid Stuff. But if we say “want to see a magic trick?” their ears perk up. That gives us entrée. Or as our storytelling friend, Harlynne Geisler, puts it “establishing your street cred”. Once they have seen a trick or two, they know we are cool, and may be ready for a story or two.

Straight after that we jetted up to Hacienda Heights, some 120 miles from our morning gig and 85 miles from home. We were invited to tell Renaissance Style Tales at “A Knight Of Reading”… A kind of a school ‘camp out’ in the multi-purpose room at the school. We followed a pair demonstrating the gentlemanly art of swordsmanship. They were so cool with all their great rapiers, epees and sabers. All we had was a foam LEGOLAND sword. However, we soldiered on. We told Too Much Noise set in a castle, The Jesters Challenge, Rapunzel and The Three Wishes. The kids loved it. After we did a Q & A and those 4th & 5th grade kids had some great questions.

Saturday, Patti taught a workshop at the 16th annual READ/San Diego Tutor Conference. She had the chance to encourage and offer some “Tried and True” methods for using storytelling and audience participation with children, families and adult literacy learners. Much of the material also works well with ESOL (English for Speakers of other languages) students.

Then in the evening it was back up to Orange County for The Wild, Wild West; A story concert presented by the South Coast Storytellers Guild. The evening was superbly put together by Mary Ann Newtion. James was the Emcee for the evening and was pleased to introduce the first tale called “The Moisture Accelerator” by none other than The Patchwork Players! This story is based on a real life rainmaker named Charles Hatfield who brought rain to San Diego. We weren’t the only ones to tell stories from history that evening. Adrienne told the tale of a ‘different’ kind of pioneer woman, Ah Toy, an entrepreneur who lived in the gold rush days. Doris Hand told a moving tale called Follow the Bugle. She crafted her story from the diary of army wives stationed in the Wild West, where their husbands had been sent to protect the railroad. And Mary Ann Newton told The Best Whip in the West.

Now as Mary Ann will tell you, a Whip is what Stagecoach drivers were called, and she told the tale off the most famous Whip of them all; Charlie Pankhurst; A tale of adventure, intrigue and a surprise or two. Keep a look out, you never know when history will be made right before your eyes.

Dave Whiting and Diana Spirithawk both shared wonderful Native American stories. David and Diana are some-time storytelling partners, and full time life partners. They both have a deep respect for, and connection with the Native American world, and they brought stories they have told at Pow-Wow’s. Diana told a moving tale called La Loba, and David told a funny and powerful story called Coyote and Spiderwoman. Thanks to you two for helping us stay in touch with that part of our heritage.

When it comes to not so true tales, we can always count on “Uncle Larry”, Larry Goldberg. As usual, Uncle Larry set the audience up with a bit of poetry, just to sucker us in we suspect, then he hit us with Once Upon A Swine In The West. A disturbingly funny tall tale of rugged frontiersmen and their quest for romance.

We were also treated to the wry and witty telling of Dave Chittenden. His story was not about the Gold Rush, but about the Black Gold Rush…Oil that is, Texas Tea. Dave told Hydrocarbon Man Makes An Offer…get it? Oil. Hydrocarbon…well Dave is an engineer by training. Now, we would like to categorize Dave’s story. Was it True Tale, Myth or Legend? As with most of his stories, it’s hard to figure. What we do know for sure is that Dave is always a pleasure to hear tell.

Now James modestly didn’t mention much about his highly skilled MC work. He spent a huge amount of time gathering some short stories, jokes, songs and other connectors that assisted the audience in smooth sailing transitions between these often VERY different types of stories and moods. One person remarked “You are the best MC in the whole world.” Perhaps a slight stretch, but he did a darned good job!

Sunday was soirée day! Patti and James joined other artists, school personnel, and supporters of the arts at a reception for Center ARTES at the Museum of Music Making in Carlsbad CA…just down the road from our house. Did you know that CA is current 50th in terms of spending per student on the arts in the schools? Scandalous…and the folks gathered are part of a groundswell movement working to change this. Stay tuned to hear about new initiatives, plus, we are all crossing our fingers that the state budget will put back some of the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been lost on the arts in schools.

So were we tired? You bet….and getting ready to head up to Utah for a much needed vacation. Then, it’s back for SUMMER READING PROGRAMS in the libraries…oh the fun never stops!