Sunday, March 1, 2009

Storytelling at the Ariel Theatre

The interior of the beautiful Ariel Theatre in Gallipolis, Ohio. Situated in the old-town area of the city, the Ariel is a testament to the love of one man for his community. According to the storytellers from the area, the theatre was restored through the funding and efforts of one man. Imagine that.

Hannah checks out the stage

Saturday night was storytelling at The Ariel Ann Theatre in Gallipolis, Ohio .The theatre has been beautifully restored and I was excited about being on stage there. The event was organized by Bob Hood, Gallia County's convention and visitors bureau executive director, and he was the evening's first teller--his first time as a storyteller.

Hannah backstage at the Ariel

Granddaughter Hannah went with us and she explored every inch of the theatre, talked to everyone and pretty much made herself at home. I wish I had photos of her listening to the tellers--her face told it all. She was totally into the stories, a compliment to the tellers who easily held the attention of 11-year-old Hannah.
Do you think she's practicing to be a storyteller?
Storytellers for the night were Donna Wilson, Jim Flanagan, Lyn Ford, Glenn Ray, Bob Hood and myself. Each teller had 10 minutes to tell--and if you're a storyteller you know it can be difficult to find a story to fit in such a short space. I have been working on a story that is new to me, and yet I've known it a good while, and actually told it once about 8 years ago. (To read the story, go to Orkney Jar. You will find not only the story I told but so many interesting things to read about the customs, standing stones, and life in these remote islands.) With the addition of an old lullaby and a little story background, it fit the time allotted perfectly.

I was happy to see the turnout. Last year was the first storytelling event at the theatre and the hope was to improve the attendance this year. Last year, I was told, 55 people showed up to listen; this year there were over 75, and all were paid admissions. This is admittedly a small audience by most standards, but when an event is new, growth like this is encouraging and a good sign for the future, especially in the current economic climate.
My next storytelling event is a couple weeks away at Ripley Middle School, telling to the 8th grade. It's good to have had this event to get me ready for them, since storytelling over the winter months has been pretty quiet. I don't pursue work in the winter because I need a break and the weather isn't trustworthy for commitments like contracts and possible travel.
But it is nice to be slowly getting back into the swing of it. There's nothing quite like sharing a story with a group of willing listeners.


Marilyn said...

Congratulations on a successful event! Beautiful site, great tellers. Wish I could have been there. I'm curious. What story did you tell from Orkney Jar?

BTW, I have a Victorian loveseat much like the one your granddaughter was lounging on. Fun to see.

City Mouse said...

Glad you saw a good turnout, and visited such wonderful places! So cool! Of course, I have a thing for old theatres.

Granny Sue said...

I told Sworn on the Odin Stone, Marilyn. I contacted the Orkney Jar site to ask permission several years ago; turns out the site is run by the son of the story's author, who was delighted to give permission. I was thrilled because I had read the story in 1996 or so and loved it. The story stayed with me and was one I wanted very much to tell.

Mouse, I bet you do love old theatres. It's awesome to seel so many being restored now. There are at least six within a few hours drive of my home. And in one little town (West Union, WV) the library is actually housed in the old opera house.

Marilyn said...

Haunting story. Many of the stories from this site are nice little scraps of folklore, but not full stories. This one is good. Wish I could have heard you tell it.

Granny Sue said...

The story isn't an old folktale, Marilyn. It was written by W Towrie Cutt in a folktale way, using the lore of the Odin Stone as its base, and the local place names. But the story itself is an original work. I added the lullaby Can Ye Sew Cushions to the story. I also added some of the story of the Odin Stone and a bit about the islands to set the place.

I would love to visit there one day. My mother's family was of Norse heritage, so maybe that's why I like reading abuot the place and its folklore so much.

Samantha Winter said...

Hi Granny Sue
Sounds great - we don't really have much story telling over here. They do it in the schools but then once your grown up it's just theatre or music. Perhaps we should learn from you.
The theatre looks lovely

Granny Sue said...

There is some storytelling in England, Sam; I'm not sure of locations but I do know you have some amazing tellers because I've met them at conferences or emailed with them. I've also met a few from Ireland --Billy Teare is absolutely hilarious.

Storytelling here is fairly small, but there are more and more venues for adults to hear stories--coffee houses, small theatres like this one, small festivals, combination music and storytelling festivals. The mecca, of course, is the annual National Storytelling Festival in Tennessee. I don't get to it very often because it is beyond my pocketbook, but it's a fine event. And about 15,000 people attend it annually.

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