Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Good Time for Storytelling!

Storytelling has been very good to me of late. Today, I had the pleasure of performing two shows at a beautiful art gallery, Artworks, in the historic city of New Bedford for Summerfest, an annual event with delicious food, including homemade ice cream, fabulous music and kiosks filled with handmade wares of every shape and size.

Artworks offered crafts for the children to make and take, a new installation of art for the adults and storytelling for everyone. The children were grand and we had lots of fun traveling the world with story.

This past Thursday I completed a two week program at our local Summer Cafe. Each year the school district offers, each in two week intervals, for children to take and of course, learn. They offer cooking, tennis, math, art, etc., and for the first time this year, storytelling. My group, ranging in ages from 7 - 10. met for eight days, two hours a day, to learn the art of storytelling, choose their stories, practice, practice and practice some more. Each day they clamored for a story so I got to practice as well. On Thursday they performed for two small groups of children who are taking other classes.

We went to the library early, where they would perform, to rehearse one more time, I did some relaxation breathing with them and then one of my boys, suggested we meditate. He is eight! Evidently, his mother's friend is a drummer and before he performs he mediates. I asked him to explain it and show how to do for the other children and he did! We all sat cross-legged on the floor, closed our eyes, turned our arms and hands out and he began, "Om..." I couldn't help peeking and all of the children were actually doing it!

It seemed to work! One young boy, the youngest of the group, was moving so much when he practiced he actually tripped himself a few times. He had a bit of trouble story each time he practiced and I wasn't sure what would happen in performance. I was so surprised when began to tell today. He was so at ease, so comfortable, having tons of fun, and with a gleam in his eye he told his Irish tale. He completely surprised me! I was overjoyed for him.

The other first time tellers were grand as well and were so very proud of
themselves. They all received their story stones and Applause Awards and asked me to start a story troupe at their middle school in September.

From local storytelling to the world wide web! Last month I was lucky enough to be a guest on Eric Wolf's program, The Art of Storytelling With Children. Every Tuesday Eric interviews storytellers and educators from around the country on a variety of issues pertaining to storytelling. You may call in and listen, then at the end ask questions, or visit his site later and listen in. Each guest also shares a blog post, offering more insight and information. My interview was posted on the web this week and if you have some time you can stop by for a listen. Just click and go: Karen Chace. If you are interested in the free resources I offer at the end of the podcast, I will be happy to share them with you as well. Contact me at and I will email them to you right away.

A good time for storytelling indeed!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Go West Young Man...or in this case "girl".

A few weeks ago I traveled to Washington State and Vancouver, British Columbia. One stop at the end of my vacation was a delightful Art Fair in Edmonds, WA. There were lots of kiosks with all types of wares: flowers, pottery, fresh honey, jewelry, gorgeous handmade quilts and art work of every shape in size.

One particularly creative artist I met was Judy Meddaugh, a botanical collage artist who fashions jewelry, cards, ceramics and pictures out of plants and flowers. You can view some of her amazing work by clicking on her name above I purchased two of her jewelry items for gifts and coveted much of her art work. Many pieces were reasonably priced, while some were out of my reach. However, since I was traveling, the thought of carrying a framed piece of work onto a plane didn't appeal to me. The next best thing was to buy some of her cards, which I will frame and display.

Of course, the storyteller in me had to buy one card that shared a story on the back. Here is the Native American legend from the Samish Tribe.

The Maiden of Deception Pass

Ko-kwal-alwoot was a beautiful Samish Indian girl living in a village in Deception Pass. She was gathering seafood one day when a young man from beneath the sea saw her and fell in love. But when the man of the sea asked her father for her hand in marriage, he refused, for fear she would drown.

The young man warned her father that the seafood would disappear unless she married him. When his warning proved to be true, her father granted permission for the marriage. The beautiful woman waded in to the sea to join her new husband. Once again the seafood returned and was plentiful.

Ko-kwal-awoot returned to her people once a year for four years. Barnacles had grown upon her hands and arms, and her long raven hair turned to kelp. Chill winds followed wherever she walked, and she seemed to be unhappy out of the sea. Seeing this, her people told her she did not need to return to them. Since that day, she has been the Samish Tribe's guiding spirit, and through her protection there has always been plenty of seafood and pure, sweet spring water.

I discovered a bit longer version of the tale on the Internet, which explains a little more about the statue itself. Carved out of red cedar it has two sides, one side depicts a beautiful maiden, the other tells the tale of her fate.

There are many more stories to share about my trip but that will have to wait for another day. The sunshine is calling!