Reviews and Memories
Jacqui Du Toit, mixing theatre, dance, and storytelling

I saw a notice on the Ottawa Storyteller's Facebook page about storytelling for children at the Happy Goat Coffee Company. So Ruth and I wandered down on a Saturday morning at 11am. The storyteller was Jacqui Du Toit, whose storytelling stage name is Aunty Leina. She told us a delightful story filled with phrases from her native land. In her telling she added movement and song. We later attended an Open Stage for theatre at the Pressed Café on Gladstone, near Bronson on the last Friday of the month. It is an Open Stage for theatre, but not limited to theatre. We watched storytelling, and improvisation theatre, and listened to music. This evening is organised by 8th Generation theatre. There was a nice audience. Mostly younger folks (under forty). Jacquie performed a story about Jackal outwitting a Lion. While she was barefooted, on stage, mixing movement, telling and song, a mother followed her 2 year old as she walked toward the stage, then plopped down on the floor to stare up at the teller.
To hear the interviews with Jacqui, about 8th generation, click here (4:49).

Jacqui is from Northern Cape, South Africa. There she studied theatre for four years. Worked for ten. Came to Canada as a member of Amakhosi, The Kings of Africa in June of 2008. Started up the 8th Generation Theatre Company a year ago. Jacqui started the Theatre nights which has occurred in a number of venues, but which has returned to Pressed a small café on Gladstone, just west of Bronson.
To hear about how Jacqui came to Canada Happy Goat Coffee Company
35 Laurel St
Aunty Leina and Zuku
Every Saturday at the Happy Goat Coffee, stories from far far away....with Aunty Leina and Zuku the mystical drummer! ...
Shows are 20 min each and starts at 11am and again at 2pm
$3-$5 sliding scale per child.To hear the interview click here (8:49).
photo of Jacqui du toit

Stories from the Northwest Territories
by Donna Stewart

On Tuesday April 30th the National Arts Centre in conjunction with the Ottawa Storytellers hosted an evening of storytelling with six northern tellers: Pat Braden, Ria Coleman, Moria Cameron, Anthony Foliot, Jim Green, and Steve McQueen. Ben Nind did the introductions, with a few words from the NAC's Northern Scene programmer, and the MP for the Northwest Territories.

photo of Ria Coleman The tellers came from Yellowknife, Fort Smith, and from south of Great Slave Lake. Most of the tellers were transplants to the North, having gone up with their families, or up to visit, and had never left. For one teller, the garage his father had worked in closed. Someone told his father that there was a job in a parts department up North. So he went up by himself, tried it for a few months, then brought up his wife and children. A few had been there for many generations. For example, Ria Coleman said that her grandmother’s people had lived in the Territories for ten thousand years.

Steve McQueen told stories about dog teams. His father has won the world champion dog sledding five times in a row. The prize for one race that his father won was a trip to Calgary, with all of their dogs. they stayed in a hotel. The dogs were boarded at a zoo right beside a cage in which lived a lion. His father's dogs were experienced chasing lynx. His dad encouraged it since it saved on bullets. Here in the zoo, to the dogs, the lion was just a giant lynx. His story included poignant moments, and humour.
Jim Green lives in a small village outside Fort Smith. he told of a friend of his that went out to the trap line. One evening while repairing a teacup with crazy glue his friend managed to glue his finger to his nose.
Ria Coleman told a story that used lots of native words and dancing about her grandmother, who fell in love with this one man, but ended up marrying the man's brother. It was a very successful marriage with lots of children. But not what she had originally planned.

Pat Braden told a story that was about the house he lived in.
Moira Cameron sang four ballads, and played the dulcimer.

We enjoyed the whole evening. The people sitting in front of us were an old couple who had travelled through the north. They were  there because it was Northern Stories. Most of the stories were funny, which the enthusiastic audience appreciated.

Besides the good telling, the room was sold out. And there were many people we recognised. Of course, there were a number of members of OST. And some of the tellers we had met before when Ruth and I were at a Yellowknife Storytelling Festival, and then a Whitehorse Conference. All in all, I was glad I had attended this Northern Scene concert.

A house concert, away from the Madding Crowd, with Moira Cameron
by Kathie Kompass  
A dulcimer and an auto harp sang out recently on Major street. My home actually! Moira Cameron a Yellowknife Balladeer who was sin Ottawa for the Northern Scene offered to present a House Concert so as there is no dust on us at OST I put up my hand.
OH, it was great fun. Moira played and sang and explained She told us of Balladeers that she admires so we now know where to look for more song/stories
  The listener, quickly became participant and learner as Moira  had us help with the choruses. She shared her knowledge of the instruments, how they are made and how they evolved as well as snippets of history about the ballads that she sang. And were the ballads true?  Based on actual happening?  You might ask. They must be! Especially the one Moira wrote and sang about Yellowknife’s Giant Mine.
photo of Moira Cameron

photo of Donna, Elaine, and Rick History Revealed at the Tea Party

As part of the ongoing Ottawa History project, three tellers took to the "stage" on Tuesday May 14th at the Tea Party. Kathie Kompass took us from Ottawa to the gold fields, through the States, up to Mattawa, and back to Ottawa. We went by horseback, boat, and camel. Donna Stewart led us into the life of a young girl in around 1860, and how she stopped J. R. Booth's lumber yard being set ablaze. Elaine O'Reilly told us the story of how a good Father of Lowertown helped those in need for over four decades.
Kathie Kompass and Mary Wiggin are the two organisers of the ongoing Tea Party series. They make sure each and every scheduled Tuesday has tellers ready and able to entertain the audiences that keep coming back for stories, be they tale, history, or fable.

Kathie and Mary pull together their schedule each year, sending out suggestions for themes to the tellers amongst the OST members, and to the newly graduated tellers who have completed the Introduction to Storytelling courses given twice a year.
photo of mary and kathie speaking with bob

photo of d'bi young June 15 Master Class with d'bi young: Process, Performance, and Pedagogy of Dub Theatre
by Jennifer Vincent

Locate your breath, find yourself within it, and direct it towards the hard-working parts of your physical being which require a little more attention as you prepare to share your story. The centring exercise with which D’bi Young began her June 15 master class was meditation for storytellers, and it set the stage for a highly engaging morning which would spark creativity by emphasizing the fundamental importance of play. Using our bodies as our interpretive medium, we, the participants, worked together in groups to represent memories of joy and watershed moments, and then performed each member’s story for the rest of the class.       

The afternoon session was all about introspection, as participants sat beneath the ‘tree of me’, a representation of the grounding parts of self - past, present and future - which can be tapped into as we compose and tell stories which are meaningful to us. D’bi also took us through the method styled “S.O.R.P.L.U.S.I.”: Self-knowledge, Orality, Rhythm, Political content & context, Language of communication, Urgency, Sacredness, and Integrity*. Participants reflected on how these “considerations,” many of which lend themselves to self-directed questions like, “What stimulates/ moves me?” and “What stories are bubbling in my body?”, can nourish the storytelling process.

For me, the class was nothing short of enlightening. D’bi Young not only offers a singular and rousing experience for her storytelling audience, she is also a gifted educator who has inspired me through her fervour, talent, and love.

*For more information, click on this Youtube link.

Jubilee 1927, a tent show at the Billings Estate National Historic Site, May 31
Reviewed by Lynda Joyce

It is a week after Dominion Day 1927. Ottawans have been invited to the home of Charles Murray Billings’ to mark the enormous success of the 60th anniversary celebration of Confederation. We are in the heart of the roaring twenties where the clash of Victorian propriety with the new flappers, flying machines and jazz is very evident.  And we will all have to sign THE PLEDGE before the evening is through.
photo of two flappers
Written by Patrick Holloway and directed by Gail Anglin, this show gave the audience a sampling of the issues, history and events of 1927 in a very entertaining way. Hosted by Mrs. Ezra Henderson (Ruthannne Edward), resplendent in a deep blue creation, we are introduced to various speakers.

First is our elegant host, the gracious Mr. Charles Murray Billings (Bob Woods) followed by local department store owner Mr. A.J. Freiman (Daniel Kletke) who eloquently compares the new department stores with the Canadian federation (it’s a bit of a stretch!!). We then met a rather garrulous lady,  Mrs. Hattie Badgly (Anne Nagy), who enthusiastically reports on the day’s events, although she is somewhat constrained by a list of topics which she Must Not Mention, including one tragic event – the crash of a plane accompanying guest of honour, Charles Lindbergh –which is reported solemnly by Mr. Quincy Sunderland (Mike Enns) of the Ottawa Evening Citizen.


photo of Rodney Norman in a turn of the century bathing suit
We are introduced to Mr. Reginald Conklin (Kerry Max) of Keith’s Vaudeville, an entertainment palace featuring the likes of Mr. Jeremiah Pickersgill (Rodney Norman) who treats us to a series of painful one-liners. The true crux of the times becomes evident to us as we hear the entreaties of Miss Bessie Thorburton (Kim Kilpatrick) of the WCTU(Women’s Christian Temperance Union) to desist from drinking alcohol by means of signing the pledge, followed  “flapper talk” from the “bee’s knees” young Miss Zelda McIntyre (Amanda Parker) and by glamorous jazz aficionada, Miss Isobel McCorkindale, (Lana Hummel) with her long cigarette holder.

photo of barber shop orchestra
This cast was completed by a gentleman’s chorus, Papa’s Friends who sang several rousing songs in close harmony.

As I munched my free bag of popcorn, watched the slide show and listened to the various characters speak, I was transported to a time of simpler concerns and a mix of frivolity and repression. 

poster of the Jubilee 1927 event at Billings Estate

photo of val swinton and friends
The struggle to transition to modern times was evident as well as the wonder at the invention of the flying machine which we now all take for granted, and the hero worship of Charles Lindbergh. Our dear storytellers and friends of storytellers all acquitted themselves well on stage and provided a believable storyline. The slides were sometimes supportive of the show on stage and at other times were a distraction.

photo of Ruthanne in a mystic guise
The experience of listening to “flapper talk” was certainly amusing and the portrayal of the two 'modern' women by Amanda Parker and Lana Hummel was hilarious when contrasted with the more traditional characters. 

photo of the director, Gail Anglin
The show was a reminder of one of the many gifts Ottawa StoryTellers provides to Ottawa – creative interpretations of our local history. The assortment of colourful vignettes represented were informative, memorable and thoroughly entertaining.  

photo of turn of the century reporter
I hope this show will be enjoyed again and again.

Thank you to Patrick and Gail and all the actors for an entertaining and enlightening show which will be repeated at the July conference of Storytellers of Canada / Conteurs du Canada.

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