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Noa Baum: Peace-making Through Storytelling

February 6, 2018

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She started her presentation, of course, with a story – about a park here in the US where she met a young woman with a baby – the same age as her son. The young woman was a Palestinian; storyteller Noa Baum is, as she said, “a proud Israeli Jew”. Over a period of seven years, they became friends… they never talked about their former homes – “mostly Mom stuff”, said Noa, smiling.

Then, one day, Noa was putting together a story about her childhood during the Six Days War in Jerusalem. Her friend, Jumana, had lived in Jerusalem, too… and she wondered what HER experience had been like.

Thus began a process – sometimes painful but also powerful – whereby Noa examined her own world view by carefully listening to another radically different view – through story. And through this process, she realized that storytelling could be a tool for peace-making – not just between Israeli and Palestinian, but in any situation in which people have diametrically opposed views and beliefs.

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She talked about the need we all have for affirmation; the need to feel that we are good people. She acknowledged the strong impulse in everyone to stick with their own tribe, the difficulties of being with those who are ‘different’, and our inclination to stereotype them; shut them out.

But – what if we could approach those others by simply sharing stories together – just as she and Jumana did. Recent scientific studies have concluded that when two humans sit down together, face to face, and share life experiences – something happens. First, there is an emotional connection; then a shift in cognitive thinking – because story allows us to “imagine” what it would be like to be that person – without surrendering our own beliefs. And eventually this process (and here, the process is more important than the story) can – if we stick with it – lead to compassion and an increased ability to deal with paradox; to accept the real complexities of the world all around us.

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As I listened to Noa’s words, I thought about similar experiences in my own storytelling: bringing elders and young people together as “Story Buddies”; helping families bring two and three generations together at reunions through story; and using story to help teens and parents see one another in a new way. But the challenges in our highly polarized world are so great. Could I somehow use story as a tool in this terribly difficult environment? I honestly don’t know…but it’s something worth thinking about.

Note: The full text of this presentation can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vsg7VTUjYLI&t=5s.

I guarantee – an absorbing and thought-provoking experience.

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It was grand…

December 17, 2017

 

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*To the forty people listed on the program of “Peter and the Star Catcher” – lighting and stage designers and crew, costume designers, special effects designers, stage managers and crews, fellow actors, and director – thank you.

*To the WICA Board of Directors and Staff – thank you.

*To the entire page of donors (too many to count) and another page of show sponsors: all of whom support WICA – thank you.

*To our audiences who sat in the seats between December 1 – 16th – thank you.

Because of you (who now number in the hundreds) I got a chance to play on the WICA stage once again… to re-new old friendships and revive old skills…to work hard with people who are talented and gifted and fun…and to watch new talent emerge in the process.

Together we grappled with the task of play-making: building characters and sets and lights which twinkled on cue and mermaid costumes and dances and music and sound effects… all to illuminate the STORY of a boy who never grew up.

At the bash after the final performance, the director and I were reminiscing. It was eleven years ago- exactly – the 2006 holiday show, “Little Women”. The lights were out in Langley: a community angel rigged up a transformer to run one flood light and we put candles on the stage. We didn’t know if they would, but the audience came: in coats and mittens and hats and scarves. “You know, Jill, we had over 200 light cues in that show,” she said. “But that night, I realized they really didn’t matter… it was the story that mattered.” I couldn’t agree more.

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“Second to the right, and straight on till morning”

December 1, 2017

I was 12. Mom announced excitedly that we were going into the city to see a live performance of “Peter Pan”. I was not thrilled; I didn’t want to see some little kids’ play. The theater was huge, one of those wonderful old buildings with lots of gold paint and chandeliers. But we were in the back row of the third tier; “you can’t see anything!” I wailed. Mom was not pleased.

I suffered through the first act. At intermission, Mom refused to buy me one of those neat show souvenirs. Then, in the second act, came the moment when Tinker Bell’s light is going out…. Peter comes to the front of the stage and speaks directly to the audience. “Tink’s dying…but you can save her…all you have to do is stand up and say you believe in fairies…please, stand up…save Tink!!!”

Who stood up, ran down to the third tier balcony, leaned over the edge and screamed, I DO! I DO! I BELIEVE IN FAIRIES!!!?” Yup, you guessed it.

Neverland is back… at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts… in a production of “Peter and the Starcatcher.”

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They’re all there: the pirates…

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the mermaids…

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the mollusks…

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and, of course, Peter – before he was Pan – or even Peter, just a Boy in a miserable orphanage in Victorian England. And Molly, Wendy’s mother, the first to be enchanted by the boy who would never grow up.

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Captain Hook is Black Stache, a poetical pirate… and the Lost Boys, Prentiss and Teddy… and the world of Neverland re-created by music and a dazzling display of theatrical and technical wizardry.

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Peter Pan” was created in 1903 and became a children’s classic. Now… 114 years later, the magic is still there. Come and see us!

 

 

“Tellabration 2!” ™

November 3, 2017

From…        Muskegon, Michigan  and  Mt. Airy, North Carolina

Texas – Waco, Houston, and Austin

New York – Schenectady, Shrub Oak, Rochester, and New York City

California – San Diego, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto 

Pennsylvania – Bethlehem and Philadelphia

and Kaysville (Utah), Bradenton (Florida), Washington DC, Belleville (Illinois), Columbus (Ohio), Arden (Delaware), Chicago, Delta (Alabama), and Sharpsburg (Maryland)…

PLUS our own Pacific Northwest region: Seattle, Olympia, and Tacoma, Washington and Portland, Oregon…

comes our annual celebration of storytelling: around the country and around the world- “TELLABRATION!” ™. An activity sponsored by the National Storytelling Network, our national storytelling organization

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brings together storytellers and story listeners all across the globe.

Come to Seattle and share music and story with us on this very special occasion!!

“Tellabration!” (tm)  2017    November 18  7 – 9 PM
The Seattle Storytellers Guild Presents
An Evening of Tales and Music With Pint and Dale

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William Pint and Felicia Dale travel throughout the US and abroad with their unique blend of traditional and modern maritime music.

The Baltuck-Garrard Family Storytellers

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A family of world travelers and storytellers, Naomi Baltuck, her husband, Thom, and their children, Bea and Eli, have collected tales and experiences to share with us.

University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Avenue NE in Seattle.

Suggested Donation $15, $10 for SSG Members – No one turned away for lack of funds!

“TELLABRATION!”(tm)

October 3, 2017

Twenty eight years ago, a storyteller named J.G. (Paw Paw) Pinkerton thought it would be a good idea to have a designated day when storytellers gathered folks they knew around them and introduced them to the art. The Connecticut Storytelling Center agreed – and, that year, they created six events throughout the state. “Tellabration!” became a trademarked activity of the National Storytelling Network (NSN) and, now, every year in November, there are “Tellabration!” events on every continent – except Antarctica.

This year, the Seattle Storytelling Guild will hold it’s “Tellabration!” event at a new venue. The concert, on November 18th from 7 – 9 PM (a social hour will precede it at 6:30), will be held at the Nathan Johnson Hall at University Unitarian Church at 6556 35th Avenue NE in Seattle (206-454-7710) and will feature two groups of seasoned performers.

PintnDale (or William Pint and Felicia Dale) are nationally known singers and musicians who specialize in traditional and modern maritime music. They have performed all over the US and abroad: “They deliver dynamic vocals and instrumental fireworks…heart-wrenching to downright silly, with powerful harmonies and dramatic instrumental work on guitar, hurdy-gurdy, octave mandolin, penny whistle, and fiddle” Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival  – UK

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The Baltuck-Garrard Family – Naomi, Thom, Bea, and Eli – are a well known and much  beloved storytelling family here in the Pacific Northwest. This seasoned troupe (Bea and Eli have been performing with their parents since they were little) has performed in festivals, libraries, and concert halls throughout the area. Naomi is also an author of award-winning books: fiction and books on storytelling. She has received the Parent Choice Gold Award, three Storytelling World Awards, and an Anne Izard Storyteller Choice Award.

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The concert will also feature exhibits, recording and book sales, door prizes and refreshments. The church has ample parking,  is close to three different bus routes, and is handicap- accessible. Come – and share this exciting and dynamic program with us! For more information, please call 360-221-0326 or email at: story@whidbey.com.

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“Tellabration!” is a trademark of the National Storytelling Network (NSN)

Grand-daughter

August 7, 2017

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What does it mean to have a thirteen year old in the house? Such a kaleidoscope of feelings and emotions…. pulling me back to being a parent… an adolescent…pushing me forward into the new world young people now inhabit.

It means doing morning exercises at volume 25 with Lady Gaga. WOW! Does that get you going !! What fun to dance around the room while your grand-daughter looks on with a horrified look on her face…. The music was raucous, but well orchestrated, and the album title- “The Fame Monster”- so apt. I’ll bet that lady with the outlandish costumes knows a thing or two about fame and it’s price….

It means remembering that young teenagers never finish ANY task. There is always one sock left on the floor, or the garage door left open, or the kitchen towel scrunched in a heap on the counter.  None of this is done with malice or forethought – just that
vacant look that lets you know… they were thinking of something else.

It means being exasperated at their wooly-headedness one minute – and astounded at their skill and acuity the next. I remember watching, stunned, as she manoeuvred her way through a training session as my assistant with poise and enthusiasm. She took non-verbal cues from me and adjusted to time changes like a pro!

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It means being plunged back into the angst of the age. As I assisted with a humanities essay, feelings surfaced about a relationship with a classmate. As hurt and anger came bubbling to the surface, I flashed back to my thirteen year old self – full of anxiety and fear – and, at the same time, felt the compassion and worry of the parent I had once been. We so easily forget the intensity of these experiences – until we once again come face to face with them.

It means listening to a saxophone rehearsal (as she whips through two or three different “Star Wars” tunes) and remembering – a year and a half ago – “Hot Cross Buns” with lots of hesitations and squeaks and sighs.

It means trying to adjust to a new conservatism in food choices; no, she won’t eat kale or chard, but a little broccoli is OK. But we both LOVE fresh peaches… with the juice dribbling down our fingers.

It means that shopping for clothes is a test of adult patience. Her range of dislikes – is almost unlimited. In one way, I approve; she has rejected the fashion band-wagon, the slavish following of trends. But her range of likes is so narrow… now I know why her mother has given up trying!

It means such contentment as we munch popcorn and watch a movie that we both love.

It means wondering if she will like an outing you have planned and worrying about her occasional silences and trying to remember how I felt when I was with my grand-mother all those years ago.

It means being extraordinarily proud as she successfully completes her first adult interview and spends afternoons shadowing at a vet clinic. What a source of satisfaction to be able to give this child – who has wanted to be a vet since she was six – her first exposure to the career.

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“Rebecca” – a repeat performance

June 8, 2017

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The story of “Rebecca” began as many stories do – by accident. I was rummaging around the Island County Historical Museum Library when I stumbled upon a pioneer diary. It was written by Rebecca Ebey, wife of well known Washington pioneer, Isaac Ebey. (Note: the photograph above is not Rebecca…merely my image of her….)The Ebeys were part of the first group of homesteaders on Whidbey Island, my home.  In my research, I have read many frontier diaries. But this one was special….  I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Five years later, in 2012, “Rebecca: the story of Rebecca Ebey” premiered at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley. Since then, the show has received national recognition and been performed all over Washington State – and in other states as well. This month, “Rebecca” is coming back to Whidbey Island… to the Day Use Area at Camp Casey State Park in Coupeville on June 23rd at 7:00 pm. The story traces Rebecca’s journey from Missouri to the Oregon Territory in 1851; in the second part of the show,   the diary is brought back to life as Rebecca describes the joys and sorrows of being a homesteader. The performance, sponsored  by the Sound Water Stewarts and the Park, is free.

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