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March 04, 2006

Story-telling Festival

Attended the first evening of the 19th annual storytelling festival at Ann Arbor's The Ark this evening. I had forgotten how enjoyable a good story can be and that stories are not just for children. Susan Strauss used her body and her voice to tell stories about creation and about a coyote who believed that it was more powerful than the surrounding grasses. With regard to complaints that she has on occasion received about the 'farting coyote' story and how children might respond to it she commented that "If you dam the river the waters get muddied."

Alice McGill closed the evening by reminding the audience that the human voice is the most powerful instrument. On a few occasions during the evening she got the audience to sing reminding us of proverbs from Zimbabwe that claim that if you can talk you can sing and if you can walk you can dance. She opened her presentation by telling us that her story was herself and convinced us of that by telling lively and engaging stories of her homesickness in college and her becoming a teacher and about Brer Rabbit's attempt to marry the king's daughter.

The evening reminded me of what a powerful medium storytelling can be for educating and how knowledge of generations have been passed on by generations (such as McGill's story of how Africans used to be able to fly - lore which could not, in the past, be shared with bakras). The underlying human element of storytelling was highlighted by Alice McGill when early in her session she asked for the house lights to be put up because when she tells stories she likes to be able to see the whites of her listeners' eyes

Posted by sdelaney at March 4, 2006 12:28 AM


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