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

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

One Crazy Summer

When we last met we told of Patti’s journey back to Minnesota. As always there is more to the story, both before and after her trip.

Since we were at Legoland’s Pirate Shores, the Patchwork Players have been all over the map. Here’s are quick travelogue:

Huntington Beach Library, Festival of Folk Tales…a fabulous gathering of over a thousand kids and parents, all about the joy of reading.

The Patchwork Players told Patriotic stories at a summer program in Brea for the 4th of July…red white and blue and actors form the audience!

Private 70th Birthday It was a surprise party, and she was delighted, as were friends and family young and old

Mystic Gyfte Street Festival in Vista, California. There were a host of fine musical acts including Highland Way and, one of James’ all time favorite bands; Strange Woods (James has been a fan for 25 years). James went as a patron, to relax after an earlier gig. Then the folks of Strange Woods realized it was taking too long to set up their equipment, so they handed James a mic and asked for a story. The Patchwork Players and Strange Woods shared a stage some five year ago, so they knew our work. So James regaled the crowd with a story called “Middle Woman”. And when he was done the band was ready to go. Once again: storytellers to the rescue

American Cancer Society Camp for kids. We told stories at a day camp for children dealing with cancer age 4-10.

Patti told at two Girl Scout Camps: up in Yorba Linda—around the world in five days, and at Balboa Park—Fairytale Camp. As a long time Girl Scout, Patti always loves the chance to support the scouts.

Patti was at a Family Literacy Night in Escondido at the Public Library there. She was part of their learning about science summer program, where she share the “story answers” to some scientific questions like why do we have tides and how come the sun hurts out eyes when we look directly at it.

We were also back again for the San Diego Museum of Art Family Fun Festival. Always a wonderful event, designed to get families to see the museum as a fun place to go. In the past we had been asked to gear our stories to match the current, featured exhibit. On this day that exhibit was Andy Warhol’s works. There was some question as to how accessible Warhol is to a family audience. So they asked us to spread the stories different galleries. We told in the American Classics, Asian and European Masters Galleries. We managed to tailor our stories to each exhibit. We even came up with good story for the Warhol gallery; Stone Soup, which we told in front of his Campbell’s Soup Cans. We also share some of the story behind why Andy decided to paint Campbell’s cans. A good story to be sure! And everywhere we go our fans are popping up. One mother, with a 11 year old boy in tow, entered the museum and spotted James. She turned to her boy and said reassuringly “See, I told you it would be him”. Further conversation reveled that they had seen us at LEGOLAND and were hoping to see us again. There were also a bunch of other folks who were proud to announce that they had seen us before. Afterward, a kindly pair of septuagenarian ladies said that our show “was wonderful to behold”.

The Patchwork Players were invited back for the fifth time to tell at the San Diego Renaissance Faire. Renaissance Fairs take us back in time. Not just to the renaissance, but to our past as well. The very first time we performed as The Patchwork Players was at a Renaissance Faire. We have tried to make it to at least one a year since then. Going to Faire can be like going home. Those who frequent faires, or Faire Folk, are like a big family. Vendors and performers bring their kids along, and they camp on site. We saw many old friends, their sprouting children. And some great acts: Marlowe’s Shadowe, Sound and Fury, A Fool and His Lady, among others. We also had had very appreciative audiences. You see, at Renaissance Faires, the talent, that’s us, is allowed to pass the hat after each performance. You can tell right away from the tips whether they like you or not.
Then The Patchwork Players traveled from long past Renaissance era all the way to a futuristic Spaceport at...
WorldCon 64 , a gathering of 10,000 Science Fiction Fans from around the world met in Anaheim. If you saw the season closer episode of Psych, or the movie GalaxyQuest, you have seen a loving parody of what a real Science Fiction Convention looks like. Patti has been to a few over the years and James has been to about 100 in the last thirty years. James has wanted some stage time at a major Science Fiction Convention for almost as long. So we were very pleased when we landed a slot on the main entertainment stage in the Spaceport Lounge. During the five days of the convention that stage hosted everything from dramatic readings, singers, harpists, pianists, magicians, TechnoPopFusion bands, The Prancing Pony Players, to The Patchwork Players Story Theatre. We came on right after The Prancing Pony Players. Good news for us, we had been hearing about them from both the Science Fiction and Renaissance Faire communities. This troop of Hobbit costumed, young ladies perform a musical parody of Lord of the Rings. We really enjoyed their show. Another added benefit was the hanging out with stage manager Nick Smith. He is a well known Los Angeles area storyteller, and long time buddy of ours.
At last, Nick gave us a glowing intro and we took the stage. For the next fifty minutes we performed some our favorite tales and capped the show off with the story “Middle Woman” by Orson Scott Card, which we tell with his permission. We ended the show with that piece because Orson Scott Card is much beloved by science fiction fans, so we knew the telling would be appreciated in that crowd. After, Nick let us know that we had done an excellent job.

Poinsettia Kinder Care—a fun time with the little ones. What is more fun than a whole batch of 3-5 year olds pretending to be sneaky monkeys?

And libraries, libraries, libraries! God bless the summer reading programs which take a theme and libraries around the region all use the same theme over the summer. This year’s them focused on animals “Claws, paws, tails and scales”…which gave us a lot to work with. We were able to do performances from as far south as Point Loma Library, to up in Los Angeles and over in Riverside County. The animal tales were a great hit. We especially appreciate a young 10 year old fan who yelled to us in the parking lot “You guys rock!”

Things calm down now for a bit as schools get rolling back into their rhythms, and we start to get ready for Halloween and “Do you know any SCARY stories?” Yes we do. Stay tuned for a report on the scary and not too scary stories in store for October.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Patti & Kids

Last month I got to spend a week in Minnesota and Wisconsin being Aunt Patti, the storytelling aunt. I brought with me my new toy: a small digital recorder where you can record and then upload to your computer and burn a cd from that. I thought it might be fun to try recording some stories with my nieces and nephews (6 of them ages 1 year to 8 years old.) I was confident that the school-agers would like this: especially my sister's kids get to tell and read ad LOT of books and stories. What I was surprised was that the 3 year old (and a half!) boy was among the best storytellers there. He loved helping me tell the Gingerbread Man ("first you take a knife and you cut it, then you put on sprinkles for the cheeks. Then red sprinkles for the hat. No, green sprinkles!" ) On story after familiar story, we was so happy to say his parts "And I'll huff and I'll Puff" Somebody's been eating my porridge" "Run, run as fast and you can, you can't catch me I'm the gingerbread man".) He has been read to and told these stories, mostly by his grandpa, since he was a baby. He was very happy to "correct" if I said it wrong. "No not the little old woman and the little old man. The BIG woman and the BIG man." At the end of each story he delighted in saying "Now play it" and we listened back to the story to his (as well as all the kid's delight.)

The other amazing recording experience I had was when the 7 year old suggested we should make up a story about a Elephant with the hiccoughs, I started in and then made a loud hiccough sounds. My 13 month old niece immediately copied the sound. I thought oh that was just a coincidence, so I said it again with the same results. We told this story 3 times. It finally occurred to me I should try to record her doing it and she did it on cue for the recorder. This little tike was sooooo there for the telling of this story and doing her part. After every one had a chance to record over several days (classic stories, literary tales, and a bunch we made up ourselves) I told them that I would go home and burn a cd with these stories on them. The 6 year old asked "Then will you sell us a copy, Aunt Patti?" Yes, I think I will. I would sooooo recommend this process. It was gold, and will make such a great keepsake for them all to have of their sweet little voices telling stories.