Sunday, February 27, 2005

Root Vegetables

My storytelling gig went well yesterday. In fact, it went better than I expected. The last time I was at a gig, I was in a large room with tall ceilings and no carpets. I was the featured performer for a social group's Valentine's Day pancake breakfast. As soon as I saw the layout of the room, I doubted anyone would be able to hear me beyond the second row. About half-way through the gig, the facilitators finally got me a microphone. Afterward, they were remorseful and said that next time they would make sure there was a separate room. They gave me a cheque for more money than I had asked, which I appreciated.

Yesterday's set-up at the bookstore was more comfortable. I was in the children's area of the bookstore, and the booksellers closed the ever-popular play-house before I began. I started out with "Too Much Talk," which was the first time I had told the story in a professional gathering. I'd wanted it for my own ever since I heard a colleague tell it with her full, rolling, Brooklyn accent. When I told it, though, it just wasn't funny. As I worked on it for this gig, it still wasn't coming together. How can I make this work? I thought. Then, I made the farmer a woman instead of a man. (Those kinds of tinkerings are allowed with folk-tales. I'd never mess with a literary tale, though, and the few times I tell Eleanor Farjeon's The Seventh Princess I make sure it's dead-on accurate.)

Once the farmer became female, the story was funny. I'm not quite sure why, except that maybe it's because most of the gardeners in my family are female.

My second story, "One Gift Deserves Another," followed the theme of root vegetables, and was about a giant turnip. During this story, the king went to dinner at the house of the rich, selfish brother. The king eats his way through 12 courses. I asked the children what they thought the foods were. They volunteered various fruits, such as apples, pears, bananas, and peaches. My, what a healthy bunch, I thought. Then one child said, "They had pizza!" Well, of course they did-- what kind of a banquet would it be otherwise? Another child added, "A really large cake!" That, I replied, was the 12th course. We all paused with glassy looks upon our faces. For a brief moment, we were "The Lotus Eaters."

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