Sunday, February 26, 2006

Is this thing on?

Testing a podcast kind of feed. You can listen to a short story when you click on it: The Fowler and the Viper. I'll let you know if it works. If it does, the first real Podcast will be the audio from our February 18 Borders event. the kidlings say.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Getting Around (to) the Border (review)

“Steve Otto doesn't belong here...”Or at least that is what I thought as Steve Otto (and his wife Virginia) appeared about 20 minutes before the January " @ Borders" event in Avondale AZ.

I realized, as I sit here now to get ready to do the February 18 " @ Borders," that I never wrote the list about last month's event.

What a great surprise. Our event is in Arizona. Steve lives far away in the midwest in Missouri, but there he was in Arizona. As I was getting ready with the troupe we assembled for that night, this face that I knew I knew but was in the wrong place came around the corner. I kind of did that "I know I know you" smile at him and said to myself, "That looks like Steve Otto." Then, thankfully, Steve said, "Hi Sean, I'm Steve Otto." Right away my brain said, "Steve Otto doesn't belong here. This is Arizona" It was a rather odd feeling. I then quickly realized- OH ANOTHER TELLER whose work I knew. Woo Hoo!

So, after the hellos and how-are-you's, I asked Steve if he wanted to tell as part of our line up that night. I think I had barely finished the sentence when he said "yes." Fantastic. I would not normally put a teller in cold, but Steve has been with us in the directory at for some time, I've met him in person before and he has a CD in our store at With all that, I knew he would be able to fit into our program- and I am happy to say he did a great job.

So our line up that night:

I started with the story of Eve and Adam- sort of a little warm up joke story.

Erin Benites then took over as the MC and welcomed everyone. She was followed by Zach Gallen, an 18 year old student I have been working with for a while who told the story of "The Button" which has a "Twilight Zone" feel to it. He did a nice job, especially considering that this was his first storytelling outing. Zach has worked in a variety of commercials and stage appearances, but was nervous about his fist official storytelling.

More announcements and "get your name (and address and Email) in the fishbowl" requests from Erin. Steve Otto then told a double set starting with "The Golden Arm" with a high-audience contact quotient. The "jump" of this jump story was very successful. He followed with his variant on "Lazy Jack" much to the delight of the audience.

More Erin and more announcements and commercials. Then I followed with a version of a biblical story called "Gold Foil Coins" that I had picked up from the Fountain Square Fools many years ago. Although the source is biblical, the telling of the story is not religious and is actually designed as a piece for corporate audiences. No audience can hate you when you pass chocolate out to them.

We then gave away a few CD's. Steve had several with him and we gave those out as well. He also had his infamous pens with him and I think he gave out about a dozen or so to anyone who came within 2 feet of his person, LOL.

After the CD give away, I finished up with a version of "Filling the House"- one I had adapted from an especially well put-together version from Granny Sue- with her permission to use the story of course.

It was a great set of telling and a fast hour. The surprise of Steve Otto showing up and telling was a real topper for the night. Thanks Steve!

Tonight we have myself, Harriet Cole and Kindra Gayle. Harriet is a student in the storytelling program at South Mountain Community College here in Phoenix and an experienced teller from all over the Western U. S. Kindra Gayle is a local teller who also happens to be the youngest NSN board member in the history of time immortal. So between the three of us- the audience should love at least those two. LOL.

I'll send you an update a bit later. I am planning on making a podcast of the Borders events...stand by for news.

By the way, this gig is at the Borders Store at 99Ave and McDowell Road in Avondale AZ. Third Saturday of every month, 7PM.

Friday, February 17, 2006

They dont want to hear us: Telling with Teens

I had a great day today working with kids in an elementary school- took a road trip across the state of Arizona on Wednesday. Covered the 3-5 grades first, that’s about 8-11 years of age. They were followed by the 6-8 grades, commonly called Junior High, which is around 11-14 years of age. Noted to myself that the middle grades ( the younger set) are more and more like the junior high kids used to be 10+ years ago. They’re much more media savvy than kids of the same age 10 years ago. Not sure if that’s good or bad, but I think it just “is.”

I truly enjoy the junior-high range. They come in so on the edge, many of them thinking that the “storyteller is for babies.” There’s kind of a “make me listen” thing going on. The night before at a class some people were asking about how to handle teens. I thought about that conversation and my school-show Wednesday. We started wild and by the time I had finished the final piece of “Iron John” they were deep in the storytelling trance, not even moving or making a sound.

...With adolescents, all adults have to earn the right to be heard by them. It takes time. And, for the most part, we the storytellers have to do that in the first minute or two.

...We need to grab their attention from the start, actually as they arrive in the room. Don’t hide behind the set pieces until you are introduced. As a matter of fact, skip the intro- they don’t care about our CV’s, our experience or our history...unless maybe we are going to tell them that our storytelling isn’t for babies. And at that, they probably won’t believe it.

We need to start strong with something a bit wild, maybe even a little edgy. Work down this funnel >: strong and noisy > interactive and maybe a bit calmer > something that they think would make their parents wonder if they can “handle” the type of story you’re telling > something deep that makes them drift into their own deep imaginations.

So, my program for these junior high kids looked like this:

1. A game I play with repeating sounds>
2. An interactive Prodigal Daughter
3. Creation Myth (playful and fun)
4. Two Farthings
5. Seven Ravens
6. Iron John

A great time was had by all...especially me.