Sad news indeed. Last week, we lost another great storyteller, Syd Lieberman. I have spoken often about Syd. I show some of his videos in my classes to demonstrate different principles. I was fortunate enough to know him for just a few years. I was honored to be able to call him a colleague and if only for a limited time, a friend.
The first time I saw a video of Syd was in Doug Bland's Art of Storytelling Class at SMCC. He was much younger and a little taller I think. He told the story of The Debate in Sign Language. It is an old Yiddish folk tale, but I had heard it many times told as a "joke". Syd took the story out of the joke realm and gave it "life" through story. It was a moment that I remember as something that gave me more understanding of storytelling, and the feeling that, perhaps I could eventually do this.
Then I saw Syd perform at Jonesborough. He was much older now, and even sat while telling stories, as his health was up and down. Yet his energy was always up. The sparkle was always in his eyes!
At the NSN Conference in Los Angeles in 2010, Syd was gracious enough to allow me to take a short video of him for the Experts section of my website. Talk about the sparkle on his eyes, it lights up the video! I show this short clip every semester to my students. He talks about how "he" knows the story and the "anticipation" he feels as he reveals it to the audience. It is 49 seconds of pure delight.
Then, at the 2012 Conference in Ohio, something happened that shocked me and made me so appreciative. Syd gave me a gift, a moment to treasure.
The night of the "slam" my name was pulled out of the hat. I told a sentimental story about being five years old, when my mother bought me two kites, as she knew I would break or loose the first one. It was, by all accounts, a terrible telling. I stood in front of 350 of my colleagues and idols, and I blew it. I was nervous, my voice was cracking, and I came dangerously close (I think I even crossed the line) to tears near the end.
The next day, Syd approached me and said, "I really loved the way you ended your story last night."
I thanked him and hugged him, and told him how much it meant for me to hear him say that.
I was in awe that one of my favorite tellers, one whom I cherished, adored and held in high esteem, gave me the best appreciation I ever received. It is a moment etched in my memory.
If you have never experienced Syd, or even if you have, please go to his website www.sydlieberman.com/recordings to see many of his videos and/or listen to audio recordings of his stories. There are great lessons there to be learned. Some of my favorites are: The Call of Story; Aunt Helen; The Day the Nazi's Came to Town; and I'm Sean Connery.
Farewell Syd. Thank you for all that you have given us, and given to me. You will be missed. It was an honor and a privilege to know you!
Monday - May 18th
Phoenix Theatre - Hormel Black Box, Phoenix, AZ
You are invited to celebrate the 125th anniversary of The Arizona Republic with a night of "Stories About Stories," as Republic and azcentral.com staffers share tales from lives lived in the newsroom, and on the beat.
On this night, we'll bring you the news behind the news - from reporters, photographers, editors, online producers, copy editors and columnists.
As journalists, it is our privilege to reflect and serve the Valley every day, and on this night, we'll come together to celebrate 125 years of telling some of this community's most important stories.
Reporter Bob Ortega
Arizona Coyotes beat reporter Sarah McLellan
Photojournalist Michael Chow
Reporter Dennis Wagner
Columnist EJ Montini
Features reporter Dianna Nanez
Reporter Daniel Gonzalez
Reporter Megan Finnerty
Sign Language Interpretation Services Available!
If you require ASL Interpretation services for this event or a future Storytellers event you plan to attend, please contact Melissa Farley at Melissa.Farley@ArizonaRepublic.com with your request.
Out Of The Box Storytelling Women Storytellers
Saturday, May 30th - 10am - Noon (doors open at 9:30 am)
Anne McDowell has organized another event: Out of the Box Storytelling - Women Storytellers.
A place for Christian women to get together to hear and tell of the wonders that God has done in their lives or (with permission) in the lives of others. This is a fun, exciting new way to hear six 8-10 minute personal, uplifting, faith-promoting stories about the wonders of God, and enjoy a delicious brunch! They offer fun, laughter, and a chance to win door prizes!
It's at Dobson’s Restaurant at Dobson Ranch Golf Course in Mesa from 10am - 12 Noon.
Odyssey Storytellers Needed! Thursday, June 4th
This curated Storytelling event in Tucson is in its 13th year! Six people are invited to tell ten minute, personal stories on a theme in front of an audience. The stories are not read or memorized, they are told from the life experiences and creativity of the teller
Storytellers still needed for the June 4th Odyssey Storytelling show, TABOO. We know that one of you out there has a story about something that NO ONE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT! Sex. Religion. Death. Money. Politics. If you have a story to tell, contact Penelope@odysseystorytelling.com or Adam@odysseystorytelling.com
Sea-Glass Storytelling Workshop Saturday - June 6th
9:30 am - 1:00 pm (registration required)
Seaglass Storytelling is a new workshop from long-time Valley teller/coach Sean Buvala.
A workshop on using the unique light of a folktale to improve our personal stories.
The workshop explores the "Three Refractions" and the shadow sides of personal tales. There will be time to work on one's own tale in a small group. Like rare sea glass, the best personal stories are intentionally constructed stories that have the long-term impact of the world tale.
When we first hear or read a story, we naturally focus on the characters that are presented. Regardless of the genre, we are presented with characters that are most integral to the specific story. Even in a personal story, we may leave out the role of someone who was there, but was not so deeply involved, so we "edit" the story and do not include them. There is an alternate road to take.
When I was a therapist, I would attend "patient staffings". These were gatherings of all the essential therapists, nurses, doctors and other staff who had, or would have contact with the client. The purpose was to understand the "history" of the patient, what brought them into the hospital, and what the best plan of treatment might be. Even then, I would listen to the "story" of how the client came to be in treatment.
As an example, the patient might be an adolescent girl who had run away, or tried to commit suicide. Her mother might have been a single mother, who was alcoholic. There was a long history of the young girl acting out and power struggles between the daughter and mother.
Everyone in the room would start to offer suggestions as to the level of treatment. I would stop and think about the story I just heard, and wonder, "Who is absent from this picture? Who is not there in the story? Where is the Father?" This piece had been seemingly left out of the explanation of the "current" situation. To me, It was essential to ask the question, and understand the connection.
I believe storytellers can benefit from the same type of questioning: "Who is not there? Who is left out? Who 'might' be there?" And even more... "If inanimate objects could talk about this, what would they say?"
Example: Goldilocks and The Three Bears
Where are Goldilocks' Mother and Father? Why is she wandering in the woods alone? What happened just before she went into to the woods? Has she been like this before, mischievous, destructive, and broken into other houses?
How long have the Bears lived in this house? How did they build it, or buy it? What if the chairs and beds and walls could talk? What would they say about this family?
These are just a few. Perhaps they will help us develop a "back story" so we may have greater understanding of the story and characters' motivations.
But they also may lead to a new story; one that includes the "other" characters. What would happen to the story if we added Mr. and Mrs. Goldilocks?
One of the presenters at the Hilton Head Conference I was at last week was Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic. Zander has traveled all over the world and delivered leadership lessons through the interpretation of music. He has unlimited energy and a few simple lessons. He has written a book, The Art of Possibility, which is quite insightful. I invite you to watch this short video which is but a small example of Zander's joyful expressions.
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