Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Storytelling this Week

Catching up on the past week's storytelling in today's post:

This week's storytelling was at home, mid-state and up north--West Virginia's northern panhandle, to be exact: Paden City, Middlebourne and Parkersburg (which isn't really in the Panhandle but it's north of my home so...).

I have had so much fun with this summer's programs. The theme for library summer reading programs this year is Be Creative! Now, what is not to like about that for a storyteller? Last week I outlined the program I planned to present this year and for the most part that program is what I am doing. Except for today. More about that later.

Since the theme is creativity, I wanted stories that reflected a range of arts as well as creative ways to tell a story. I developed a new flannelboard story and pulled out an older one to re-use, found a story about generosity and helping others that could be drawn as well as told, developed two new stories to tell with puppets and participation, and added a few songs. The result is a fast-moving, highly interactive program that has been a hit so far. I am loving it--not always does a program fall into place like this one has.

The program got its first run last Friday at my local libraries in Ripley and Ravenswood. The next day we were at Glenville for the Folk Festival and what I told there was a mix of folktales, tall tales, ballads and some of my poems. Completely different material from the summer programs.


Then on Monday it was back to the libraries. At Paden City, I recognized several children from past years and they knew just how to participate in the stories. I was sad to hear the librarian was retiring--she's become a friend over the years--but glad for her. We did not have time to explore Paden City's marble factory again but I am going to put that on my to-do list for this year. Paden City was at one time the source of many of the world's marbles and continues to produce them today.

On the way to Middlebourne we passed Gamble's Run, site of one of our state's many good ghost stories. Again, no time to stop! We had to get lunch somewhere before the next performance, so we drove on into town and to the little restaurant I'd eaten at previously. It was good food then and I was looking forward to being there again.

We were disappointed, however. Apparently the restaurant was short-handed; after ordering and waiting over half an hour, we had to leave without our lunch. I paid for the good coffee and cottage cheese and we headed on to the library.



Again, I recognized some of the children from past years. Some of them are getting as tall--or taller!--than I am. That is one of the joys of storytelling--getting to know people in many places.

We looked around Middlebourne a bit before leaving town and heading back down the beautiful Ohio River. This house begged to have its picture taken. Check out the dude on the upstair porch!

The little town boasts many beautiful homes and again I need more time to stay, talk, walk and discover.

We were really hungry by this time so we stopped in St. Mary's to find lunch/dinner. And that stop is a whole 'nother post! When you ask a friendly looking guy where to eat, sometimes you get much more than you bargained for!


This morning we headed to Parkersburg to tell ghost stories. Planning for this took a little time--I knew the audience would be mixed ages, basically 3 years old to adults, but mostly in the 5-12 year-old range. So how to select ghost stories for that mix? I ended up developing two program plans, one that could be used if the audience was younger and one if the majority was older. As it turned out, it was some of each, so that's what I told. About 100 people or more were crowded into the room that was appropriately decorated for spooky tales, complete with a smoke machine (that set off the fire alarm before I arrived--excitement!).

The group was charged up right away so I knew I needed something interactive and intriguing to get them started. I decided on a story with good audience participation, spooky but funny in the end. It worked and we were off. Tailypo, Wizard Clipp, Jack and the Ghost, The Ghost of Silver Run, Mothman and the Braxton County Monster, a story from Parkersburg and one from Jackson County, a couple songs and the time was gone before I knew it. It was a very good session. I left as the kids trooped excitedly into the Haunted House. They had more fun ahead--for me, it was a 70-mile drive to work the late shift, getting off work at 8:30pm. But worth it for the chance to be at this library!

Six events and three different programs in six days--storytelling is certainly never boring. The rest of this week is quiet, except for canning more beans, a huge project at work and preparing for a week of programs after July 4th--two writing workshops, one for children and one for teens, more of my summer reading programs, two puppet craft programs, a Celtic program and a ghost stories program. But I'll be on vacation from work that week, so it should be a piece of cake, right?

Geez, I love this stuff!

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