October 24, 2010

How do you imagine a storyteller spends her or his time in the week before a new show meets its first audiences? The days have turned gently warm, the nights are cool and my breath fogs the morning air. Leaves are reddening the myrtle trees and crisping on the ground. Neighbors mount bicycles or load cars with picnic items for daylong excursions to the Eno River or the Raleigh fairgrounds. It’s a perfect time for playing out of doors before all the leaves fall and the mantle of winter settles over our city.

This storyteller, however, is content to open the windows, enjoying the Indian summer and the harvest moon from indoors, while outlining story plots on giant pieces of newsprint and hanging them all over the house, singing songs until my cat and dog can sing along with the chorus and experimenting with character voices, rhythms, feelings. Late at night I fall asleep with stories running through my mind like dreams, implanting structures and images in my long-term brain cells, not the part of the brain that learns individual words but the part that connects meaning and relationship. This is where the story nestles. And only after telling the story to an audience will it come fully alive and take flight.

So, all this week, as Baltimore Orioles pause in the bushes on their way to warmer climes, I’ll be indoors (except for teaching acting classes and walking with Pippin through the autumn leaves) mining story ideas for rich, exciting telling. Over and over again until the stories seep into my bones and muscles and storage cells, ready to fly.

Next Saturday afternoon (3:00 pm) and evening (8:00 pm) the stories will meet their first audiences. It’s like an unveiling, introducing audiences and stories to each other and at the same time – in the flight – a new story emerges through how the audience responds to the what the teller reveals after long days of individual exploration. We bring each other to life and the story is both our medium and our creation.

I hope you’ll join me for the excitement and the discovery next Saturday, October 30th. And bring all your friends. Having lived with these stories for a while now, I believe we’ll have two satisfying Durham Family Theatre productions.

(Get tickets early by clicking DFT Shows, or get them at the show on October 30th.)

Warmly, Jenny

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