Home, safe and sound after an amazing four days at the National Storytelling Network Conference As always, there were too many great sessions to choose from - Here were my choices and reviews.
Wednesday evening -
A moving concert from the Healing Story Alliance featuring Susan O'Halloran, Michael D. McCarty, Lilli Pang, Emily Lasana, and Lani Peterson...sharing stories of social justice and empowerment. The heartfelt tales were all crowd pleasers.
Storytelling in Organizations - SIG Preconference
Storytelling for Authentic Organizations: Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say, presented by the inimitable Elizabeth Ellis. A great workshop with Elizabeth's usual clarity and focus, and dealing with organizations in difficulty. Add in her "twisted" sense of humor and you have an informative and laugh-filled session.
Evening Welcome! Spotlight on Storytelling – Spotlight on You!
Connie Regan-Blake had the crowd moving, interacting and meeting old and new friends - and learning about them through their stories, of course!
Facing the Dark: The Devil in the Green Coat and the Berserker’s Daughter - Cooper Braun
Kudos to Cooper for a well-crafted and well-told fringe performance of these folk tales! A powerful telling that lead the audience to their feet at the end!
Opening General Session
gave the richest, most inclusive and inviting keynote. A mixture of Videos, images, and Rives' warm, welcoming references to Don Doyle and many other tellers who have influenced the world of storytelling. His message was that we are touched by, and highly influenced by the ripples of stories and tellers - and that we are one huge family was recognized with a standing ovation.
How to Catch the Big Commissions - A workshop with Maureen Korte. Some fascinating information on how to partner with local organizations and have them write grants to pay you for storytelling!
Story in Organizational Mission, Brand & Culture. Loren Niemi & Laura Packer lead the group in discussions to help participants clarify what types of organizations they liked, and whether their focus was internal or external customers. Small group interaction revealed creative ways to use story to deal with different problems in an organization.
Story Slam -
For the third year in a row, my name was pulled out of the hat for the slam. I told my Dance General story and got a great response from the audience. Did not place as one of the winners but I had a great time. Third place was Lili Pang who told funny story about her grandmother's advice to her regarding a young girl's crush and unrequited love. Lou Ann Homan took second place relating a hilarious story of how an innocent moment of foolishness turned into a full scale "gala" honoring her impersonation of Susan Sarandon! And First place went to Barb Schutzgruber with a touching story of her daughter's survival of cancer. All-in-all, a great evening of fun and stories!
Fringe Performance -
Transactors: A Gender Journey with Sean Buvala
The evening was rounded out with an incredible and powerful Fringe performance by Sean Buvala. Transactors is a mixture of folk tales and personal narrative; a moving and insightful piece revealing Sean's "inner journey" regarding his trans-gender child. It's a story that should be heard by ALL! There was hardly a dry eye in the house, and the appreciations and sharing afterwards revealed how stories can touch and influence audience members in many different ways. Bravo and kudos to Sean.
Fulbright Scholarships for Artists, Writers & Storytellers with Priscilla Howe
Priscilla shared her experience and knowledge regarding little-known facts about winning a Fulbright Scholarship that sent her to Bulgaria to research stories. Now the only choice is, "Where do I want to go?"
Story Showcase -
Featuring J.J. Reneaux Awardees: Robin Bady, Jessica Carleton, Sally Perkins, Cassie Cushing & Carolina Quiroga-Stultzirlines.
The Southwest Airlines computer crash that sent a shockwave through airports across the country stood in the way of Cassie Cushing attending the conference. She never actually made it in person, but through the miracle of technology and Skype, she was able to present another one of her twisted folktales, with requisite blood. Along with tales from other recipients of the J.J Reneaux Sholarships, it was a great concert!
NSN ORACLE Awards Celebration -
A wonderful evening and celebration of our own members who were recognized by their peers in the storytelling community. Presenters and recipients were all quite eloquent in their introductions and acceptance speeches!
Fringe Performance -
My Old Man: True Tales from My Dad’s Life with Julie Moss
With some photos and stories, Julie took us on a journey with her father and family. A rich recounting of his life as a child growing up, and an adult with his own family was warm and comforting.
Romanticism to Reinvention: How to Fix Your Stalled Career with Sean Buvala
Sean asked some powerful questions to get us focused on where our careers are right now, and what we need to do to revitalize them. Sean's passionate pleas made us zero in on the storyteller in the 21st century! A masterful workshop, that should have been twice as long, was insightful and helpful, even for some veteran tellers!
Closing Concert - Stories in Word & Song
Featuring: Geraldine Buckley • Rives Collins • Leeny Del Seamonds • Lyn Ford and Jim May
We were treated to some of the Best-of-the-Best who delighted us with both personal and folk tales. It was a magical way to close the weekend!
I was fortunate enough to also have some great conversations with many wonderful folks, including: Lani Peterson; Laura Packer; Loren Niemi; Robert Barrientos; Rives Collins; Loren & Nancy Russel; Nancy Wang and Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo of Eth-Noh-Tec; Bobby Norfolk; Leeny Del Seamans; Rona Leventhal; Joseph Sobal; Steven Henniger; Molly Catron, Charlotte Blake-Alston, and the laughing Michael D. McCarty - to name a few!
Sean and I traveled home on the same plane together, this time delayed for an hour and 45 minutes...and when we landed and got to the gate, they couldn't get the jetway working, so we had to wait another 20 minutes while they fiddled, then "towed" the plane to another gate!