More than just a story

Tellers of tales gear up for World Storytelling Day

Peg Hasted

Peg Hasted

Everyone has a story to tell and this Sunday, it’s time to hear the masters.

The Victoria Storytellers’ Guild is celebrating World Storytelling Day with a rare public performance. It will kick off a new series of storytelling events for adults and a new direction for the two-decade-old club.

“We’re coming out of our cocoon, going more public with our group,” said Lee Porteous, VSG vice-president, who joined the guild six years ago.

The group meets monthly at the Religious Society of Friends in Fernwood to perform and listen to each other’s stories. But members had few outside opportunities to recite their tales for groups, other than squirming youngsters in libraries.

“Telling stories is a natural human impulse and the more we can repeat a story, the more it evolves,” Porteous said, giving an example of a story you might tell about a horrible trip to the dentist.

“The first person you tell it to in a day, it’s just a quick comment, but every person you tell gets a bit more detail and by the time you get home and tell your husband it’s grown into a real piece.”

Performance storytelling follows the same principal. Tales are passed freely between storytellers who adapt them as they please and encourage others to also use them and change them freely.

“We’re quite a shameless bunch. We borrow from everything,” Porteous said.

The theme internationally for this year’s storytelling day is water. The Storytelling Guild is hosting two events, one for children and the other for adults.

Shoshana Litman, ordained Maggidah (Jewish storyteller, teacher and inspirational speaker), will perform at both. Her children’s story is called “Monkeys in Rain” and includes hand motions and the audience echoing her words.

Adults should also expect audience interaction at the evening event, where Litman will tell a story called “Soap, Soap, Soap” which involves chanting a shopping list.

Since Litman started public storytelling 18 years ago, she has continued to practise her oral story skills in an effort to better polish and better engage her audiences.

“The way I tell is very enthusiastic, so I get people involved through singing and movement,” said Litman, who tells personal narratives, folk tales, and historical stories.

For budding storytellers, Litman suggests that heightening everyday stories into art is a skill like any other that can be honed – and can yield invaluable results.

Two storytelling sessions are slated for Sunday, March 20 at Intrepid Theatre, 1609 Blanshard St. An afternoon concert for  families runs 2-3 p.m, with admission by donation; and an evening concert for youth and adults is set for 7-9 p.m., with $10 admission for adults or $5 for youth.

– with files from Sam Van Schie

Storytelling events

• Tall Tales Books at 795 Fort St. hosts extra storytime sessions this month, led by Shoshana Litman March 18, 23, 25 and 30 at 11 a.m.

• The third Monday of the month, learn the craft of storytelling with the Victoria Storytellers’ Guild at 1831 Fern St. Doors, 7:15 p.m. Admission $5; students $3.

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