Telling Times

June 2014


In this issue:

Note from the President

Reviews and Memories 2
Debut Publication & The Iliad 3
The Story I Want to Tell…. 4
News - Reviews (and gossip) 5
Photo of Dean
NAC Fourth Stage
Billings Estate
Story Swap
Tea Party TP
StoryTellers Support the Grandmothers 6
Dean Verger
Photo of Tom with guitar A Word from the (New) President
A listener who attended our recent 12-hour telling of Homer’s Iliad confided afterward, “I admired, but didn't like, the Iliad before, and I think it has something to do with it needing to be told to an audience (not read, and not privately). Live performance makes an unbelievable difference.”  For me, this comment gets to the heart of the mission of Ottawa StoryTellers.  We have often been told that human beings are hard-wired for narrative, and we can all become engrossed in a novel, a movie or a television show; but OST’s special corner of the vast empire of narrative is the living encounter between teller and listener. Such a simple truth, and yet we still have to work to communicate it to the wider world.

How many times have people asked you “and where do you read your stories?”  Ma’am, we have plenty of respect for reading aloud, but this is something quite different.  Storytellers do it from memory!  And we do it without a net.  Ask the eighteen Iliad tellers, who each had up to half an hour of Homeric story to deliver, faithfully, passionately, and with an eye to the larger arc of the story being created collectively by all. 

Whether we are telling a centuries-old epic, a literary story, an episode out of history or a personal anecdote, the heart of the experience is a living, fearful-trusting encounter between the teller and the listeners.  At the best of times we have just enough fear to focus the mind and lift the energy.  We have enough trust to venture out along a frail bridge of words spoken aloud; and by trusting, we win the trust of the listeners, which is ultimately the only thing that keeps that  gossamer bridge up in the air.

Starting out as the new President of Ottawa StoryTellers, I have felt both fear and trust.  Will I be able to understand and do all that is expected of me? Will I live up to the examples of presidents past?  OST is a much larger, busier and more complex organization than it was last time I served on the Board, many years ago.  There are many issues, challenges, opportunities and responsibilities that were hardly thought of back then.  But though I have felt some apprehension about my new role, I have also felt trust – and a deep appreciation– for the generosity, skills and energy of my fellow Board members, of all the volunteers, and of our brand-new Artistic Manager, Laurie Fyffe, who has joined us to carry on and develop further the tremendous contributions of our newly retired Managing Artistic Director, Caitlyn Paxson.  With so many good people contributing their energies to storytelling and the community of tellers and listeners, it is surely a good time to be President!

Keep telling!  Keep listening!

Tom Lips

From your newsletter editor

I am typing away as the cooling rain falls, as I prepare for the upcoming Iliad performance at the Fourth Stage of the National Arts Centre here in Ottawa. Each of the individuals involved have been writing, telling, blogging about this show to the network of friends and acquaintances. We have been talking with each other, supporting, critiquing, and lending a helping hand to prepare for the twelve hour event. One would think there was no provincial election, no World Cup, no Stanley Cup. And so was the attitude of the tellers before they closed upon the stage.

In the last few months storytelling in Ottawa has continued along its merry way. Individual projects, tellings in schools, the retirement of Caitlyn Paxson, and the welcoming of Laurie Fyffe as Artistic Director. The Un(told) series in its initial months is a success, with the small room at The Daily Grind on Somerset already bursting at the seams with attendees and participants. A lovely addition to the Swap. Brass and story have also paired for more public concerts, along the Rideau Canal.

Once again, thanks go out to the many voices that contribute to this newsletter. Words from Nicole, a freshly published author. Murray, who trumpets a touring success. Peggy, a new member who writes about a grandmother to grandmother fundraiser. Janet, who brought back her experiences from the Toronto Storytelling Festival. Pat, who shared his photographs. Laurie, who intrigues us with her introduction. And Kathie, who reached out to Peterborough's tellers, and brought them to the Tea Party to make our community all the richer in experiences.

I have added a downloadable pdf file of the OST newsletter. It does not include the links. But it does include most of the articles.
If you wish to open the file, or download it, please click here.


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