Jun. 29th, 2017

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I went to the storytelling. I timed my walk right and got there at the start time, but it was so hot, even at 7 p.m., that I opted to go inside to buy a drink, and miss the start. And so did a lot of other people, so I missed the whole first storyteller.

It was a good turnout:cut for pic )There were more people sitting on a low wall behind me, and people standing at the side.

The second storyteller talked about encounters with coffee-snob baristas, and a visit to a coffee farm in Colombia. You could see that she had had some training, in storytelling or some other theater, when she described the landscape. She showed us how lovely it looked from far away, and then how it felt to walk down a cliff-face to pick the coffee cherries.

The third talked about her relationship with food: how her family encouraged her to be miserly with money and with calories; how boyfriends and their families encouraged her to take pleasure in eating and other indulgences; how food makes memories vivid, and memories of particular meals anchor her important friendships now. When she was describing her disordered eating, I thought, "This needs a trigger warning." Then, when she was describing food really sensually, I thought more generally about what we warn for, and what we should warn for. The point of storytelling is to use our words and our physicalities to put images in your mind.

The fourth talked about how growing up on a farm had made her familiar with birth and death, and affected her understanding of her own inevitable death. She described two corpses very vividly. A beloved horse, who had done "what horses do: lived a long, happy life, and then walked himself to the very back pasture, across a couple of irrigation ditches, and buckled his knees under the buckle of the mountain, and died." Unfortunately, on the other side of that fence was the kitchen window of a brand-new million-dollar home, built by a new neighbor who was not a farmer, who needed the corpse moved. The storyteller's mother explained that she could not get a rendering truck or a backhoe across those irrigation ditches, and she was going to let it rot, though the neighbor was welcome to move it if they could figure out how. The storyteller's mother hadn't liked that neighbor anyway. Those irrigation ditches had flooded, in the storyteller's childhood, severely enough to undermine the century-old tombstones in Bingham Hill Cemetery, which brings us to the second corpse. The storyteller's mother didn't mean to graverob, she just didn't want him to wash away.

This was a very good story.

The fifth talked about being a public radio journalist on the farm beat.

The sixth was a theater guy. He talked about being a city kid and going to his father's cousin's farm on holidays.

I learned something useful from the last storyteller, whose story didn't really have a structure: at the end, he said, "That's my story, thank you!" and everyone applauded. My stories tend to be small and oddly shaped, and leave my audience saying, "Wait, that's the story? You're done?" so I think I will try this tactic.

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August 2017

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