It was so good to be with storytelling friends again to talk about stories, listen to stories, and think about new stories to tell or ways to tell the old ones. Suzi Whaples and I rode together to the OOPS Storytelling Conference in Mount Vernon, Ohio and discovered a shared delight in visiting junk shops! We talked ourselves blue all the way to the conference.
Since we had a little free time early in the afternoon, Cathy Jo Smith, Suzi, Bizzie, Donna Wilson and I ventured downtown to the old town shopping area. Cathy and I stopped by this beautiful monument in downtown Mount Vernon, Ohio on our way to explore antique shops.
After the evening story swap on Friday, tellers gathered for more sharing. From top and clockwise: Bizzie, Sandy Messerly, Suzi Whaples, Donna Wilson, Rich Knoblich, Judy Sima (mostly hidden from view), Melanie Pratt. and Cristie Merke (I'm not sure of the spelling so if you know better please correct me!).
Saturday started with an olio performance (meaning a "miscellaneous mixture") by the workshop leaders. Suzi snapped this one of me during my story about Larry sliding down the coal chute. There was a nice turnout for the conference; like many events, attendance is down, probably due to the uncertain economy and the swine flu scare.
Later I offered my workshop on ballads for storytellers. What I enjoyed most was the give and take with the attendees, as they asked questions and shared their knowledge during the informal session. I discussed ballad history, how to learn ballads, sources, variations and other topics. As always, I learn as I teach and it was inspiring to see the interest displayed by those in attendance. Ballads are stories in song, so they are right at home at a storytelling conference.
Suzi Whaples presented workshop on telling stories from family history, but was so engrossed that I didn't take any pictures. Suzi reminded us to capture and tell those stories before they're lost with the ones who know them. It was an excellent presentation; I liked the hands-on segment where she had each participant select an object from the table and tell a family story they were reminded of by the item. I've used this technique myself in workshops and find it very effective in drawing people into remembering stories from their past.
I selected a bell, and told about how my mother always had a bell by her bed; if she rang it we children knew to come running to see what she needed. This bell was in use a good bit during her pregnancies, and later on she went high tech when Dad installed a doorbell buzzer by her bed that rang into the kitchen below! Mom was often sick when I was young and the bell was in frequent use.
Judy Sima of Michigan taught a session on using audience participation in children's storytelling. Much of what she said affirmed techniques I already use, but as always I found new inspiration in listening and thinking about the ideas presented. Judy included a group exercise that was good fun.
In the evening a storytelling concert was held in the church sanctuary. It feels like a strange place for storytelling, but perhaps not, because after all Jesus used stories to teach lessons. The stained glass windows were glowing richly in the evening sun and I was just entranced by them. We listened to the swap preceding the concert and stayed for the first teller, Omope Daboiku from Cincinnati before leaving. I was sorry not to hear all the featured tellers but we still had to get our things from the motel and had more than 3 hours drive time ahead of us.
It was a good conference, energizing and inspiring. I have some new ideas to try, and best of all, some new friends in the Ohio storytelling world.
Today I'm preparing for next weekend: storytelling and two craft sessions for up to 100 children. We're off to Wal-Mart now (yuck) so I can finish buying the supplies I need, and to get ready for Derek's birthday party tonight. I'm glad it's raining again because I don't need to feel guilty about not getting into the gardens this weekend!