thanks Karen! More here: http://www.storybug.net/publications.html
and a great article on the whole art of storytelling featuring Karen Chace, massmouth member, storyteller and educator extraordinaire. For original post click on link below.
|Storytelling: A Way to Reconnect|
|Karen Chace was one of more than 30 regional tellers invited to perform at the first Granite State Storytelling Festival on October 17.|
On October 17, New London Area Center for the Arts hosted the first Granite State Storytelling Festival, bringing New Hampshire into a growing network of states that honor this ages-old art form.
More than 30 tellers from throughout New England shared tales on four stages—all within easy walking distance of Ausbon Sargent Town Common.
More than half of the tellers make their homes in New Hampshire, including headliner Odds Bodkin from Bradford, who stayed to conduct a Master Class in “The Human Instrument” on October 18.
Among the many tellers from neighboring New England states was Karen Chace, who makes her home in East Freetown, MA.
Karen’s is a familiar name to members of the National Storytelling Network (NSN): she writes a monthly column, “Stor E Telling,” for the organization’s Storytelling Magazine, helping storytellers find helpful resources on the World Wide Web.
“One of my early inspirations in storytelling was Leanne Johnson, whom I met in 1999 on the STORYTELL listserv, an internet-based message board for storytellers around the world,” shares Karen. “Leanne became a very good friend of mine, and she and Mel Davenport, another STORYTELL participant, became my storytelling mentors, answering my beginner’s questions and sharing their advice. They were wonderful role models, well before I began to ‘tell out.’
“I really started storytelling in the community in 2001,” says Karen, “and serendipity brought me to an old friend who was then working for the New Bedford Art Museum. We set up an appointment to talk about a children’s program, but then I was asked if I did any ‘healing’ stories.
“The museum was working with a well known artist in the city, John Magnan,” Karen explains. “John’s wife, Mary, had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer two years earlier, and John had created a multi-media exhibit as a tribute to the life-and-death struggle his wife and other women faced every day. The museum wanted a storytelling presentation to complement the exhibit.
“I told them, ‘Oh, sure. I can do that!’ and quickly turned to the members of STORYTELL for help in finding the right stories for this project.”
Karen put together a program of stories about illness and how illness affects families and caretakers.
It was a watershed experience for Karen, who developed a greater understanding of the importance of stories in helping people cope with devastating events.
Here’s what she wrote about the experience in the newsletter of the Healing Story Alliance:
“During my telling of ‘Nadia the Willful’ I witnessed the power of story. A very dear man was in the audience, the father of my childhood friend. His wife had died very suddenly about eight months earlier. As I was telling the story I looked over at him and saw that his head was bent down. I realized how hard this story was for him to hear.”
Later, says Karen, she received a note from the man’s daughter, telling her it was exactly what he needed to help him come to grips with his loss.
“That really drove home to me just how much power a story has.”
“It’s more important now than ever before to be able to have people share tales,” Karen opines. “I see a disconnect going on in the world. We are isolated in so many ways. Years ago, for instance, people walked to the store and talked with neighbors along the way. Now we’re in our cars, in our own little cubicles, and we drive everywhere. It makes it difficult to connect with people on an individual level.”
The easy communication made possible by e-mail and cell phones hasn’t improved things, in Karen’s view. “We have so many ways to connect virtually through computers and other electronics that we have forgotten how to connect on a personal, one-to-one level,” she says.
“Stories give that back to us.”
Stories are a one-on-one experience, she adds, even when the storyteller is performing before a large audience. Even when it’s a festival-sized audience.
“Each person who listens to a story hears something different, takes something different from it,” Karen explains. “It might not be a healing message, but it might be something fun, or something that causes them to begin a discussion with someone else about the story. That’s what stories give us—a way to start.”
Storytellers use stories in many ways, she says: “Storytelling is not just entertainment, although stories are certainly entertaining. Stories take us back to a time when we weren’t always on our guard. When I went to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tennessee, I was amazed at the magic that fell over the town during that weekend. Thousands of people who didn’t know each other smiled at one another. They were kind, and gentle, and patient, and no one was rushing around on business. There was a whole different feel to the world.”
Karen has brought stories to schoolchildren in Massachusetts, showing educators how the power of stories can be harnessed to support educational goals. “I’ve seen stories work miracles in the classroom,” she assures.
“I’ve seen a student with autism get up in front of 150 people and tell his story. It was a miracle at work to reach him at that level. And students who struggle with reading find a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment when they can stand up and tell a story. They find something inside themselves that will translate into greater successes later in life. Many parents have come up to me after their children have participated in my story presentation lessons to say, You have no idea what that experience did for my child.”
Karen recalls fellow storyteller Dan Keding ending one of his stories with, “You can’t hate someone if you know their story.”
“That’s so true,” supports Karen. “When you meet someone who is a little surly and stand-offish, you may not like them. But if you know they’re going through a divorce or a job loss or health issues, it helps you be more understanding.”
Karen knows of one storyteller, Noa Baum, who is using her stories to peacefully connect Israelis and Palestinians. “Noa is on a different level of storytelling, in the sense that she is dealing with things on a cultural level between countries,” says Karen, “but it’s the same idea, just on a larger scale.”
Other storytelling friends recently met at the United Nations to talk about creating the Story Bowl project to raise $1-million to help feed the hungry around the world.
“People are using storytelling to do amazing things on a broad scope,” relates Karen.
“’Story’ is the thread that connects us all, person to person, culture to culture. Storytellers like to say that the right story at the right time can save the world.
“Every one of us who tells a story is doing his or her part.”